HC Deb 16 February 1970 vol 796 cc22-3
34. Mr. Bryan

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications in what respects circumstances have changed since 7th March, 1968, so as to enable him to authorise the use of medium-wave frequencies for local radio, in view of the Ministerial conclusion reached at that time that such use was impracticable.

Mr. Stonehouse

The B.B.C. is to stop broadcasting the English Regional versions on Radio 4. Frequencies now used for this purpose can then be redeployed to provide a supporting service for local radio stations.

Mr. Bryan

Is the right hon. Gentleman first of all saying that, therefore, the statement by his predecessor on 7th March, 1968, when he said that the use of medium wavelengths …is not On"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th March, 1968; Vol. 760, c. 641.] was incorrect? Secondly, is he saying that his own speech on 15th March last was wrong, when he must have had some idea of what the programme was to be with the B.B.C. but he poured scorn on the use of medium-waves? Was he wrong then?

Mr. Stonehouse

I think the statement by my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short), and mine of last year, were quite correct. The position is that the number of medium frequencies required by the B.B.C. for its regional programmes has been reduced, and it is these medium frequencies it is now going to use in the extension of its service. There is no question of the original statements being incorrect.

Captain Orr

Would the Minister say to what extent this redeployment of medium-wave frequencies requires the consent of the European Telecommunications Convention or whatever it calls itself? In making representations to that body will he consult the Frequency Advisory Committee first?

Mr. Stonehouse

We do not have to invite approval as these frequencies are already assigned for United Kingdom use.

46. Mr. Mawby

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications if, in the light of his approval of the use of medium wave for British Broadcasting Corporation local broadcasting, there is any technical reason for refusing other broadcasting stations on medium wave.

Mr. Stonehouse

The use of medium frequencies at the B.B.C.'s local radio stations does not preclude the use of medium frequencies at other broadcasting stations. I am considering how the B.B.C. can best employ them.

Mr. Mawby

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that all the Answers which he has given me only result in confusion about the use of medium-wave bands? Is he aware that there are already 12 stations broadcasting different programmes on 202 metres, yet apparently one station does not interfere with another? This does not seem to be consistent with his replies to me earlier that we cannot operate more than one station on a particular wave-band.

Mr. Stonehouse

I did not say that. What I said was that if we continued to use medium-wave frequencies during the hours of darkness there would be severe interference not only with our own stations but also with those elsewhere in Europe.