HC Deb 07 June 1972 vol 838 cc436-7
14. Mr. Ashton

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications whether he will seek powers to enable him to restrict the amount of display advertising which is permitted in outside broadcasts.

Sir J. Eden

No, Sir. This is a matter for the BBC and the ITA which tell me that they are co-operating to try and ensure that sporting events do not carry an undue element of incidental advertising.

Mr. Ashton

Is the Minister satisfied with that reply? Is it not a disgrace that in sponsoring sports organisations firms such as Watneys, Texaco, Ladbrooke, Gillette and Benson and Hedges, and many more like them, are obtaining hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of free advertising at a time when the licence fee for pensioners in particular is being continually increased? Will the Minister allow the BBC to charge for this advertising and at least let viewers get some benefit from it?

Sir J. Eden

I thought my reply was rather good. As the hon. Gentleman will recognise, there is nothing to prevent the BBC or the other television authorities, the programme companies or whoever it is, coming to terms with the promoters of the event which they are proposing to televise.

Mr. McCrindle

Does not the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) have a point in putting the Question? Is it not possible for all the advertising available around a football ground to be taken over, for example, by a tobacco company, thereby gaining for about 90 minutes free advertising of a product for which advertising is otherwise prohibited?

Sir J. Eden

I think that is going a bit far and that we should try—[Interruption.] Section 7(7)(c) of the Television Act, 1964, specificaly allows the broadcasting of items consisting of factual portrayals of doings, happenings…proper for inclusion by reason of their intrinisic interest…and do not comprise an undue element of advertisement. I know that the authorities are perfectly capable of making up their minds.

Mr. Gregor Mackenzie

In his answer the right hon. Gentleman spoke of "incidental" advertising. Is he aware that it is no longer incidental but is a well organised scheme of advertising used, as my hon. Friend said, by tobacco companies, drink manufacturers and so on, and that all these people are getting cheap advertising by the BBC and others?

Sir J. Eden

I have no doubt that, in so far as advertising helps to bring about these sporting events—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It certainly does. This is a separate matter from the decision of the broadcasting authority about whether to televise. It is for the authority to judge whether the degree of advertising is undue.