§ 17. Mr. Hugh Jenkins
asked the Postmaster-General if he will introduce legislation to enable him to require the Independent Television Authority to withdraw the licence of any programme company whose control is materially changed by acquisition or merger.
§ Mr. Jenkins
Will my right hon. Friend reconsider this matter and at least amplify his brief but inadequate Answer? Is it not a fact that the award of a licence can represent an award to print money? Is it not desirable that this award should be given to a company only if the nature of the company remains the same? Will he look at the matter again?
§ Mr. Mason
I do not think that it is necessary to look at the matter again. My hon. Friend is, I think, really concerned with something developing 1568 from a merger and I suggest, therefore, that as he is probably thinking in terms of a monopoly position being established, he should direct his remarks to the President of the Board of Trade.
§ Dr. Winstanley
In this connection, would my right hon. Friend require the Authority to publish the bids of the successful contracting companies so that when they commence transmitting in July their performance can be measured against their previous promises?
§ Mr. Whitaker
Why should not the enormous profits of the independent television companies be used to finance the B.S.C. so that old people, pensioners and the public alike are not called upon to pay the licence fee?
§ Mr. John Lee
Is my right hon. Friend aware of the principle that is involved here—that the whole object of the Independent Television Act was to ensure that the distribution and control of programme companies is widely spread? Does not every merger that takes place go some way towards defeating the purpose of the Act?