HC Deb 01 December 1983 vol 49 c975
4. Mr. Dykes

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to announce the successful applicants for the 12 pilot cable television licences.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Douglas Hurd)

My right hon. and learned Friend did so on 25 November, in reply to my hon. Friend's earlier question. We intend to issue pilot project licences to 11 applicants, subject to the satisfactory conclusion of further discussions with them on some specific points in their applications.

Mr. Dykes

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Were the successful applicants judged just on the intrinsic merits of their applications and financial strengths, or were there further implications in the choices made? Does my right hon. Friend foresee that the further implications might be useful for additional applicants when the first round of applications begins after the introduction of the legislation next year?

Mr. Hurd

The applications for the pilot project were of a high quality. Above all, we were looking for systems which showed a positive contribution to applying advanced technology, of providing a comprehensive range of programme services and having the capability for interactive services.

Mr. Ashton

As it is now standard practice for companies which gain Independent Broadcasting Authority franchises flagrantly to break their promises in every instance and disregard everything that they said to obtain the franchises, what assurances can the Minister give that that will not happen with cable television?

Mr. Hurd

We have today published the Cable and Broadcasting Bill. If the hon. Gentleman reads it, he will realise that the Government are proposing, if Parliament agrees, to set up a cable authority to provide safeguards to deal with precisely such matters.