HC Deb 18 February 1982 vol 18 cc390-1
7. Mr. Michael Marshall

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Arundel of 21 January, Official Report, column 191, what response he has had to the Home Office study on direct broadcasting by satellite; and if he is now able to make a statement.

Mr. Whitelaw

Some 70 organisations and a number of individuals submitted comments on the Home Office study. Most were in favour of going ahead with direct broadcasting by satellite. In my foreword to the study I made it clear that the Government were prepared to give serious consideration to an early start with satellite broadcasting, and I hope to make a further announcement very shortly.

Mr. Marshall

Does my right hon. Friend agree that since the Home Office report was published in May there has been some slippage? Will he seek to expedite the matter, given the strong competition to which he referred in the foreword to that report? Will he ensure that if cable television becomes relevant in the expansion of satellite broadcasting, he will give every consideration to that matter also?

Mr. Whitelaw

Certainly. Cable and direct broadcasting by satellite are inextricably linked. I intend to make a statement on cable broadcasting. I do not believe that there has been a slippage. It is important to move ahead with the technological aspect, but we must also accept that such changes have considerable repercussions on our standards of broadcasting. Those standards must be preserved.

Mr. Whitehead

Will the Secretary of State give an undertaking that the same degree of regulation will obtain, in the national interest, in any form of satellite broadcasting linked through ground stations to cable broadcasting as obtains for the existing service?

Mr. Whitelaw

We must hold a number of discussions, both outside and within the House, before giving a specific undertaking. I wish to record my belief that it is important to preserve our broadcasting standards.