HC Deb 16 October 1969 vol 788 cc575-7
5. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications if he will now state the result of his discussions on 5th July and since with the British Broadcasting Corporation on the future of the British Broadcasting Corporation's orchestras on the lines of the British Broadcasting Corporation's plan entitled, Broadcasting in the Seventies, including the future of the Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Stonehouse

Subject to certain negotiations with the Musicians Union and the Arts Councils the B.B.C. has undertaken not to reduce the employment in orchestras.

Mr. Hughes

Does the Minister realise that orchestral music, of which the Scottish Symphony Orchestra is a distinguished exponent, is being sadly prejudiced by the present plans of the B.B.C.? Therefore, in the interests of musical culture, will he take steps to avoid this?

Mr. Stonehouse

I am very glad that, following the discussions between my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, myself and the Chairman of the B.B.C., the Corporation undertook to look again at certain aspects of its proposals and made a change in this respect.

Mr. Bryan

As according to the Director-General of the B.B.C. the increase in the licence fee will be sufficient only to pay for the local radio stations, will the right hon. Gentleman say where the money is coming from to pay for the orchestras?

Mr. Stonehouse

There is another Question down on that point. It might be more satisfactory to deal with it when the Question is reached.

11. Mr. Bryan

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications what progress he has made in his talks with the British Broadcasting Corporation on the implications of their plans for broadcasting in the seventies.

Mr. Stonehouse

I refer the hon. Member to my announcement on 14th August, of which I have placed a copy in the library.

Mr. Bryan

Is not the right hon. Gentleman concerned that a group of people as distinguished and respected, and indeed as well informed, as those behind the campaign for better broadcasting should feel sufficiently strongly that the B.B.C. is abdicating its responsibility for serious music and serious programmes that they feel driven to starting a campaign of this sort?

Mr. Stonehouse

I am sure, having had very long discussions with the B.B.C. myself about all its proposals and being satisfied with the great degree of care which the B.B.C. takes to ensure that it is doing what is in the public interest, it will take note of the various points made to it in casting its programmes within its financial responsibilities.

Mr. Shinwell

On the question of future broadcasting, can my right hon. Friend say whether he is in any way responsible for political broadcasting? If so, will he bring this farce to an end? Is he aware that the public no longer regard it as either entertainment or useful propaganda? Is there any purpose in absorbing television time any longer on this nonsense?

Mr. Stonehouse

The House is always very interested to hear my right hon. Friend's views, but I must disclaim responsibility for policital broadcasts.

Dr. Winstanley

In connection with "Broadcasting in the Seventies", can the right hon. Gentleman say when he will commence the long, cool look at the whole system of broadcasting in this country which the Postmaster-General three Postmaster-Generals ago announced would commence in the spring of 1969?

Mr. Stonehouse

I have already commenced a long, cool look, and I should be grateful if any hon. Members with ideas about the way in which we should deal with this very important problem, which will affect the structure and quality of broadcasting for at least 20 years from 1976, would write to me about their ideas.

Mr. Dudley Smith

Is the Minister aware that many people are very appreciative of the B.B.C.'s good sense in deciding to bow to public opinion and retain the Music Programme after all?

Mr. Stonehouse

I think that the B.B.C. also took note of the observations made in the debate in the House on 22nd July.

Mr. Mawby

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the statement made by the Chairman of the B.B.C. that he wanted more medium wave reinforcement for local radio? As this is contrary to all the answers which I have received from the Post Office over the past few months, will the right hon. Gentleman give this matter serious consideration?

Mr. Stonehouse

It is not in any way contrary to the advice that I have given the House on this subject. We have been concerned to ensure that the scarce number of medium wave frequencies available to us are used in the best way.

Duplicated Services BBC-2 Stations
BBC-1 ITV Opening Date
1969 1969
Crystal Palace Crystal Palace Bilsdale West Moor
Sutton Coldfield Sutton Coldfield Mendip
Winter Hill Winter Hill
Emley Moor Emley Moor
Black Hill Black Hill
1970 1970
Rowridge (In service) Hampshire
Dover (In service) Heathfield
Waltham Waltham Limavady
Wenvoe Wenvoe Blaen Plwyf
Mendip Mendip Rosemarkie
Oxford Oxford Redruth
Pontop Pike Pontop Pike
Divis Divis
Tacolneston Tacolneston
Bilsdale Sudbury
Sandy Heath
Caradon Hill