HC Deb 24 June 1980 vol 987 cc422-3
Mr. D. E. Thomas

I beg to move amendment No. 106, in page 15, line 26, leave out 'not'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may discuss amendment No. 107, in page 15, line 26, leave out from second 'Authority' to end of line 35.

Mr. Thomas

The purpose of the amendment is to get a clearer statement from the Government about the framework of the teletext service and to establish whether the Government foresee that a television contractor is to become a teletext contractor.

I endorse the recommendations made in the minority Annan committee's report. The hon. Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead) signed the note of dissent. He and others argued that a publishing service of data transmission was a broadcast. Broadcasting on a television network should not classify teletext transmissions as programmes. It is inappropriate that television programme contractors should be the major distributors of the teletext service.

Hon. Members who are interested in educational technology and distance learning do not wish the system to be developed as a subsidiary of the present broadcasting system for television programmes but as a separate publishing system. That is put in jeopardy by the Bill.

What is the Government's view? Do they agree that such developments could be limited and inhibited by linking the distribution system too closely with television programmes?

Mr. Brittan

I realise that the hon. Gentleman is seeking a wider policy explanation than in his amendments, but I hope that I shall be forgiven for saying a word about the amendments.

The amendments provide that the IBA should provide the material for the transmissions in the case of teletext. We do not think that that is an appropriate role for the authority, and the explanation of the Government's policy in relation to the matter is simple. The arrangement for the teletext service provided under the aegis of the IBA should, in general, match those of existing broadcasting services. The material for inclusion in those services should be provided not by the IBA but by contractors. Those contractors could be either the television contractors or specialist teletext contractors, or a combination of both.

There is no reason why there should be any limitation on the IBA if it chooses to appoint contractors in the normal way from one or other of the categories or from a combination of both. The IBA is not a programme-making organisation. It is a regulatory and supervisory body. We do not think it right that it should become a teletext contractor.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Brittan

I beg to move amendment No. 83, in page 15, line 41, after 'III', insert and sections (Training of persons employed by programme contractors) and (Information as to television programme contracts and applications for such contracts)'. This amendment applies to teletext contracts and contractors the provisions of the two new clauses introduced by the Government on Report dealing with the training of persons employed by programme contractors and with the supply of information as to television programmes contracts and application for such contracts.

Amendment agreed to.

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