HC Deb 07 February 1973 vol 850 cc436-7
4. Mr. Kaufman

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications if he will use his powers under the BBC Charter to prevent the BBC from transmitting commercially sponsored broadcasts.

Sir J. Eden

No. Clause 12 of the BBC's Licence and Agreement forbids sponsored programmes.

Mr. Kaufman

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the current BBC 2 television series "Web of Life" is based on an idea put forward by British Petroleum, was made under contract with British Petroleum, had half its production costs paid by British Petroleum, which also paid the salaries of the BBC staff involved, and was hawked around the country by British Petroleum as a public relations exercise months before it was shown on BBC television?

As this is a direct and scandalous breach of the BBC's Licence and Agreement, on which the Minister himself has power to impose sanctions, what will he do about it?

Sir J. Eden

Since that programme was made the BBC has itself fully taken into account the concern which has been expressed on a previous occasion in the House and has changed its rules for co-production contracts.

Mr. Gorst

Within the context of the BBC's natural desire to save money, has my right hon. Friend noted the report of the Director-General's speech in which he declared that by 1975 the BBC will be £15 million in deficit? Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that viewers will not be further hammered by an increase in licence fees, within the life of the present Parliament at least, or, alternatively, will he say whether he will consider ways in which he can curtail the over-extension of the BBC's existing activities?

Sir J. Eden

The matter of the report of the speech is another question.