HC Deb 27 July 1998 vol 317 c4
3. Mr. Chris Mullin (Sunderland, South)

If he will introduce measures to bring satellite television within the same regulatory regime as the rest of commercial television; and if he will make a statement. [50769]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Chris Smith)

The Government have no early plans for changes to the current framework of broadcasting legislation, but we shall consider further the full range of issues in the light of responses to our recent Green Paper on the regulation of broadcasting and communications.

Mr. Mullin

Is my right hon. Friend aware that Sky Television has so far invested little or nothing in original production, preferring instead to purchase bland off-the-record—rather, off-the-peg—American movies, and that that is dragging down the whole of commercial television? Is it not time that we created a level playing field, and brought satellite television within the same regulatory framework that applies to the rest of commercial television?

Mr. Smith

I can give my hon. Friend an entirely on-the-record response. Sky Television—indeed, any satellite broadcaster based in Britain—is subject to exactly the same European Union provisions as domestic terrestrial broadcasters in relation to original programming, particularly programming of European origin. Sky is making good progress towards meeting those European provisions. We monitor it very carefully—as my hon. Friend may have seen in recent press reports—and progress is undoubtedly being made. I confidently expect that the 50 per cent. target will be met very shortly.