HC Deb 28 June 1972 vol 839 cc1417-8
6. Mr. Ashton

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications whether he will introduce legislation to amend the Television Act, 1964, to allow the British Broadcasting Corporation to show programmes sponsored by advertisers.

Sir J. Eden

No, Sir. I am not prepared to allow sponsored programmes on either BBC or ITV.

Mr. Ashton

Is the Minister aware that sponsored programmes are already taking place? What is the difference? Gillette, John Player, Bass Charrington and firms such as these are sponsoring tournaments which are then shown at almost full length by the BBC. Surely all that is needed is a short announcement at the end saying "This programme was brought to you by courtesy of the sponsors." Could not the BBC raise funds in that way?

Sir J. Eden

The programmes to which the hon. Gentleman has referred were no doubt selected for presentation over the media by the broadcasting authorities because of the general interest that it was felt the public would have in seeing those activities. Sponsorship places the advertiser in the position of being able to influence the programme content. That is not so in the way in which the hon. Gentleman has indicated.

Mr. Kaufman

In this context will the Minister draw the attention of the BBC to the fact that hon. Members on all sides of the House would strongly deplore the possibility of further BBC co-operation with Time-Life, which is rumoured, in view of the disgraceful way in which Time-Life has had influence in the content of programmes as well as getting splashes on the BBC?

Sir J. Eden

That is slightly another question, which has been dealt with previously in the House. My predecessor examined that matter very closely and concluded that the BBC was not in breach of its charter or agreement.

Mr. James Hill

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some of us deplore this constant sniping at the BBC? Sponsorship of sporting events is the modern trend. If there was no sponsorship there would be no such events.

Sir J. Eden

What is being sponsored is the activity, performance, the sport or whatever it may happen to be. It is not in any way influencing the choice of programme, or content of the programme, by the broadcasting authority.