§ 2.57 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I beg leave to ask Her Majesty's Government the Question of which I have given private notice—namely, whether they can now make a statement on the Report of the Television Advisory Committee.
§ THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (EARL DE LA WARR)
My Lords, first of all, I should like to thank all the members of the Television Advisory Committee for the admirable Report that has just been published, and especially their 266 energetic and resourceful Chairman, Admiral Sir Charles Daniel, who has done so much to ensure its early presentation. We owe a great to him and his colleagues, including the two members from the radio industry. I have arranged for copies of the Report to be placed in the Printed Paper Office of this House and the Vote Office of another place.
The Report deals wilt highly technical matters, but in brief it states that television broadcasting in this country will develop in future in three separate ranges or bands of very high and ultra high frequencies, in addition to that now in use. Techniques for the two ultra high bands are not yet fully developed in this country, and it is only for the lowest of the three bands, namely, that referred to in the Report as Band III, that new receiving sets, or adaptors for current sets, and the necessary transmitting equipment, can be produced reasonably quickly. In this band, however, only two channels are at present available for broadcasting, and the questions about the ultimate use of the whole band, which in any case provides only a limited number of channels, are therefore hypothetical at present. It is certainly desirable for the full development of television in this country that at least some of them should be ultimately cleared; but other interests, some of them of great importance, are involved, and this would in any event take some time. The Government accept the Television Advisory Committee's recommendation that the permanent use of these limited channels, including both those now available and those that may later be freed, should be mainly for stations covering large areas. It might, however, be possible to consider their use by short-range stations on a temporary basis, with an undertaking from the user to transfer to a higher frequency, if required to do so, when technical developments make such a change possible.
To those in the radio industry who wish to design and develop adaptors and new sets in readiness for any possible alternative programmes, I would therefore say that Band III is the only hand likely to be used during the next few years. I take this opportunity also to reassure intending purchasers of television sets. I have spoken of new programmes and new frequencies. I am 267 satisfied that there will be no difficulty in fitting the adaptors I have mentioned on current sets, and in some cases on older sets. I emphasise this so that the public should know that they will be able to receive alternative programmes on current types of television sets if they are fitted with suitable adaptors and aerials.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, may I thank the noble Earl for his statement, and ask him how soon he will be likely to be in a position to decide about the allocation of frequencies within Band III?
§ EARL DE LA WARR
I think that is a point I shall have to deal with as one of the many points arising out of the discussion on the White Paper on television to be issued in the autumn.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, may I ask whether this technical Committee went into the question of how soon it will be possible to televise to this country from overseas? The question is of some importance, as if it were possible to do this it might dispose of the current controversy.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
My Lords, this Committee will continue to sit for some time, and the matter referred to by the noble Earl in his question is one which will doubtless be dealt with by them at some later stage.