§ 4.1 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, I rise to move that this Bill be read a second time. The provisions of this rather cumbrously named Bill fall into two classes, both roughly in the copyright field. I am afraid that here I must tell your Lordships that copyright is not the simplest branch of the law: connoisseurs of complexity generally put it as a little better than town and country planning and a little worse than rating and valuation. But I warn your Lordships that one of the best-known copyright cases of recent years, in which I had a small professional interest and which found its way to your Lordships' House, turned almost entirely on the point as to whether an 30 "i" was dotted or not. You will, therefore, realise that it is possible to become embroiled in a good deal of detail. That I will do my best to avoid, but, since the Bill has not yet been to another place, I feel in duty bound to try to explain it to your Lordships a little more fully than I might otherwise have done.
This Bill has two main purposes. The first is to permit this country to participate more fully in existing and new international arrangements. The second, which is really hardly akin to it, is to provide a new right in the nature of a performing right in television programmes. I will turn straight away to the first clause. This involves an Amendment to the Copyright Act, 1911, which is still the reigning Act on this subject, and is designed to make possible our adherence to two international copyright conventions which we have just signed. The first of these two agreements provides for our accession to some revisions which were made at Brussels in 1948 to the Berne Copyright Convention of 1886—that is the great Convention which governs most international copyright affairs. The second agreement is to make possible the ratification of the Universal Copyright Convention of 1952, which was sponsored by U.N.E.S.C.O.
I will say a word about the latest revision of the Berne Convention. The Berne Copyright Union, of which Her Majesty's Government have been a leading member since 1886, provided a high standard of rights in intellectual property. Most civilised nations belong to it. Since this is not a foreign affairs debate, I hope that I shall not be asked to define that term more closely. The member countries have agreed to protect, without formality, the unpublished literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works of the nationals of member countries, and all works of this kind first published in Convention countries, irrespective of the author's nationality. That means that a French book first published in France is given copyright protection here in England. It also means that a Russian book, in the Russian language, published first in France is given protection in France. It does not mean, however, that a French book first published in Russia is given similar protection, because Russia does not belong to the Union.
§ LORD MANCROFT
America is quite different. I will come to that point in a moment.
I should now like to turn to the Copyright Committee which was appointed in 1951 and was presided over first by my noble friend Lord Reading, and then by Sir Henry Gregory. Before I deal in detail with their recommendations, I should like, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, to offer our warm thanks for the work that that Committee did and for the extraordinarily able, and may I say readable, Report which they have produced. It was a matter of personal interest and pleasure to me because one of the leading members of that Committee, Mr. F. E. Skone James, was my master in the law. When I was a pupil of his, he attempted to knock some of the law of copyright into my head, with such limited success as I am afraid will soon be only too apparent. The terms of reference of that Committee included the paying of regard to the 1948 Brussels revision to which I have already referred. The United Kingdom has always acceded to each revised text of the Berne Copyright Union. The Committee say in their Report:Our general attitude towards the Berne Union is that we are strongly of the opinion that Her Majesty's Government should accede to the latest text … We have indicated our appreciation of the high standards of the Union. We believe that it is in the interests alike of the general public and authors, composers and artists that the rights of the latter in the works of their brain should not merely enjoy protection in the country of origin, but also that wider protection to be gained only in association with other countries. The protection of intellectual property is not a matter which should be restricted to national boundaries.My Lords, those are sentiments with which Her Majesty's Government are wholly in accord.
The texts of the revised Convention demand the granting of an unqualified period of protection for the life of the author, plus a period of fifty years. The Act of 1911 does that, but with two qualifications. The first qualification is this. During the last twenty-five years of the copyright life of a work, a work can be published, as of right, by anybody who pays a copyright owner the statutory royalty of 10 per cent. The second qualification is that the Judicial Committee 32 of the Privy Council have the power, after the death of the author of a work published or performed in public, to override refusal of the copyright owner to permit republication or further performance of the work. So far as I know, that power has never been invoked, but its retention would, of course, be contrary to the Brussels Convention to which I have referred. This Bill removes these two qualifications from our Act, so that for fifty years after the death of the author the copyright owner will now enjoy the sole right to copy, publish and convert and perform in public the published works in which he owns the copyright. The other amendments to the Act of 1911 which are made necessary by the Brussels agreement are quite minor in character, and I do not think I need bother your Lordships with them.
My Lords, there is an important sidelight on this matter to which the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, just drew attention, and that is the situation with regard to America. The United States does not belong, and never has belonged, to the Berne Convention, for domestic and other reasons with which I need not bother your Lordships. But this has been, as I think the House probably knows, a sore point. It has caused much unpleasantness in the circles in which it is concerned, and the effect is that the British copyright owner of an English language work cannot obtain full copyright protection in the United States of America unless his work is not only registered there but also manufactured there—that is, actually printed from type set up in the United States of America. Your Lordships may have noticed the publication recently in this country of a book by T. E. Lawrence called The Mint. It is the story of his life in the Royal Air Force. The book was only recently published here. It was published in America some years ago, and, in order to protect the copyright, it was published and put on the market at a price of 500,000 dollars a copy to stop anybody buying it. That shows the lengths to which we have gone. Having just browsed through the book in your Lordships' Library, I feel that, even having regard to the rather exceptional circumstances, the book was slightly overpriced.
On the other hand, American copyright owners can obtain complete protection 33 here, and for longer than they can enjoy at home, simply by publishing the work in a Berne Convention country like Canada at the same time as they publish in America. Your Lordships will probably remember the trouble which Mr. D'Oyley Carte and Gilbert and Sullivan had over pirated versions of their H.M.S. Pinafore being performed in America at the same time as their own versions; and I have been told that the somewhat unflattering picture of America given by Charles Dickens in Martin Chuzzlewit was largely due to the trouble he had in America over the copyright of his works. It is fair to say that Americans have always had a slightly guilty conscience and have tried to put the matter right, but now the problem has been resolved in an unexpected way, by the U N.E.S.C.O. Convention. That Convention, convened in September, 1952, under the auspices of U.N.E.S.C.O., produced the Universal Copyright Convention, which has been signed by thirty-six States, including Great Britain and the United States of America. I gather that several other States have also now signed, and that more may do so.
The provisions of this Convention differ from the Berne Convention to which I have been referring in two main ways. First, in order to allow as many countries as possible to become members, the minimum term of protection conferred is less than that provided in the Berne Convention. Secondly, published works qualify for protection according to the nationality of the author as well as the place of first publication. In that respect, the Convention is less stringent in its provisions than the Berne requirements. This is very important for this country's interests, because the U.N.E.S.C.O. Convention provides that any contracting State which under its domestic laws requires, as a condition of copyright, compliance with formalities, such as registration or manufacture or publication in that contracting State, shall regard these requirements as satisfied in respect of works of other Convention countries if at a time of first publication all copies of a work bear the symbol of a letter C in a circle plus the name of the copyright proprietor and the year of fist publication, placed so as to give reasonable notice of a claim of copyright. Those are simple terms which have another great advantage. They get over 34 the difficulty, which those who share my views will also feel, of the publisher who does not give the date of his book inside the first cover—an infernal nuisance. I would consign such a publisher to the Mikado's list of people who "never will be missed," alongside those who publish maps without scales, or who sell tinned sardines without a key or bottled beer without an opener. By this sidewind we get over that difficulty.
The United States of America has made the necessary legal amendments and ratified the Convention. The Convention is not yet fully effective, since not all the ratifications have so far been deposited. Further ratifications are, however, expected, and the Convention will no doubt become fully effective before long, possibly before our ratification. The benefits of the Convention will be enjoyed in the United States of America only by authors and publishers whose countries ratify the Convention. This Convention has, naturally, been well received in this country. It is interesting to note that, by an international Convention, we have now resolved a difficulty which America and ourselves had been unable to resolve unilaterally. The Convention will be of great advantage to our authors and publishers, and also to the export trade in books, if the copyright for British works can be obtained in the United States of America by the carrying out of these simple formalities. Dollar revenue thus earned will not stop at the value of the books sold, because copyright protection secures for the owner payment in respect of dramatic and film rights also. Only minor and technical amendments in our Law will be necessary, and I am sure that noble Lords will approve of this Clause.
I must confess that Clause 2 is slightly controversial. It is concerned with television, a subject which, like Ireland, cannot be discussed without controversy raising its head. This clause arises not from any international agreement but from scientific advances since the Act of 1911 which still covers the law of this and kindred subjects. In 1911, television was unheard of; radio, the cinema and recording were in their infancy; and the development still continues to-day. We have recently seen the development of colour television and the invention of a new camera which takes a film and televises simultaneously. It is obvious that 35 it would be difficult to deal with these advances under an Act passed in 1911.
Clause 2 of the Bill deals with the grant of a right to the B.B.C. and to the Independent Television Authority to control the public performance of television programmes. It will have little or no effect on the private viewer. If noble Lords ask me the meaning here of the word "public," I can only say that the question has been threshed out many times in the courts with regard to other forms of copyright performance and is now well understood. There has been an increasing demand for something along these lines by sportsmen, sports promoters and the public. Noble Lords will be aware of the differences of opinion which have continued for some time past between Mrs. Topham and the B.B.C. over the Grand National. The sporting world and broadcasters will face a near-deadlock if we do not have this Bill, or something like it. Sport has contributed as much as anything to the popularity and success of television. Many people feel that there is not yet enough sport shown upon television. If, on the other hand, television gives as much sport as the public would like, most promoters may end in Queer Street. Conversely, it would be a disaster if the progress of television to which we all look forward were to result in the death knell of British sport. This Bill serves to break that vicious circle. That point may be vividly brought home to noble Lords by the remarks made as recently as Friday last, and reported in The Times of Saturday last, by the Chairman of Epsom Grand Stand Association, Mr. Van Moppes. He said point-blank that, without this Bill, televising of the Derby will not be possible. That was his view. The reasons are straightforward. There is the effect on the "gate," not only on the sport concerned but on other sports going on at the same time. Some noble Lords may have seen England's not particularly brilliant victory over Scotland at Twickenham in the Calcutta Cup—
§ LORD MANCROFT
Some noble Lords may have seen this apparently questionable match at Twickenham on Saturday. I had the great good fortune to watch a different match. Combining business with pleasure, I saw the Welsh 36 Schoolboys have a fine battle and win 6–0 against the English Schoolboys at Cardiff Arms Park—I gather that it was a much better game. Half the stands at our end of the arena were empty. A friend suggested that the possible reason was that some people had stayed at home, disloyal to the Welsh Schoolboys, to watch the television of the Calcutta Cup match at Twickenham. That sort of thing will continue and will be reflected in sport all over the country, affecting all sporting receipts as the televising of sport becomes—as we hope it will—more common. This serves only to emphasise the power of television and its enormous, frightening possibilities as a medium of instruction, propaganda and entertainment. Anybody who has tried to make a political speech in the country on a Friday evening, when the stars of politics—the demi-gods whom the B.B.C. promote from the Back Benches to the front page in In the News—scintillate, will know that it is impossible to get an audience. In the forthcoming Election we shall have to face the fact that Sir Mortimer Wheeler and Lady Barnett are better known than half the Cabinet and all the Opposition put together.
The Copyright Committee have dealt with the flatter at length in Paragraph 158 and onwards of their Report. The Committee were at first urged to recommend granting to a promoter a right to control public performance, either live or by recordings or films, or by any other new mediums, of his performances or sporting spectacles, and the right to control broadcasts of these performances or spectacles, whether recorded or live. The Committee went into this matter very carefully, and in the end they considered it to be an undue extension of the conception of copyright, which is basically a protection of works, to protect the Lincolnshire (which, I understand, "Minstrel" is going to win) or, say, the Highland Games. Performers of dramatic or musical works—I must point this out for fear of misunderstanding—are already protected by the Dramatic and Musical Performers' Protection Act, 1925, from the clandestine recording of performances. The Committee felt it was logical that the protection thus mooted—the protection I have been discussing—for sports promoters ought to extend to something like, say, the cart-horse parade in Regent's Park or the Lord Mayor's Show.
37 Your Lordships will see at once, however, that there is an obvious physical difficulty in carrying that out, quite apart from the difficulties of definition. Nevertheless, the Committee felt that the public should be enabled through television to enjoy as fully as possible sporting events. I think that is a view which is generally shared, although at the moment, for reasons which I have tried to explain, they cannot fully enjoy all those events. At the same time, the Committee felt that there was no reason why third parties, such as cinemas and licensed premises, should be able, without authorisation, and without having made any financial contribution to the particular programme, to give public showings of such events for gain. This has become an increasingly common practice in hotels and public houses. Your Lordships will also remember that an experiment was made a little while ago of televising in cinemas in the principal cites throughout the country the Germany v. United Kingdom soccer match. This sort of thing is clearly going to increase. But one must put forward the view that, if these television programmes are shown in public in places such as those which I have mentioned, it undoubtedly increases their amenities. In the same way that public places have to pay a small fee for relaying sound programmes given in public, it is suggested that it is not unjust that they should also contribute a little towards the cost of the arrangement of these programmes.
The Committee have therefore proposed a new right in the nature of a performing right to be given to broadcasting authorities in all their television programmes. The new right will not be a substitute for existing rights, such as authors' rights, but will co-exist with them. This will enable the B.B.C. or I.T.A. to control, by agreement set out in terms of a licence made under the Bill, and make a charge for a public showing of such things as the television broadcast of a Cup Final or Wimbledon.
This right is not confined to sport—I mention sport in particular because it is naturally the first thing that springs to mind. Money thus collected would provide resources out of which payments would be made by the B.B.C. and I.T.A. to sports promoters for permission to set up cameras on their premises and televise events. I need not emphasise the financial 38 difficulties in which some branches of sport now find themselves. The organising bodies of certain sports, indeed the majority, have had it in mind that they will be able, by these means, to assist financially some of the weaker brethren in their organisations. In the past, promoters disliked television of their events owing to the lack of recompense for loss of gate money. Clause 2 of the Bill tackles this problem. Promoters retain the right to allow or refuse would-be broadcasters to erect their cameras on their premises. Terms of permission to erect cameras are now a matter of bargaining between promoter and broadcaster. The promoter, of course, remains a free agent. He can refuse showing in a particular area as part of the licence either at home or in public.
The Bill, in providing for this new television right, does not lay down how various interests should arrange their affairs but enables them to do so to the advantage of all concerned. The B.B.C. and I.T.A., on whom the new right is conferred by the Bill, will be able to control and make a charge for public showing of their programmes. The charges, of course, will vary with the nature of the pubic. The charge for the showing of a performance in a big cinema will clearly differ from the charge for showing, say, to the women's institute in a village. The B.B.C. and I.T.A. will thus be in a better financial position when bargaining for the right to show sporting events. I.T.A., for simplicity's sake in this case, is really acting as a sort of quasi-trustee for the programme contractors. That, I understand, will be an acceptable arrangement. It does not affect home users, who will greatly benefit at no extra cost. It is only public performances that are to be controlled, so far as public showing of television programmes is concerned. The anxiety of promoters and others who provide non-copyright material for television programmes can be set at rest when they know that there is clear control over the use of television programmes and substantial sanctions for the enforcement of this exhibiting right.
My Lords, that explains, broadly, what the Bill sets out to do and the reasons for its introduction. I have deliberately refrained from going into all the details of how the various provisions will be administered. As your Lordships will 39 see, the bulk of the copyright recommendations of the Committee to which I have referred remain untouched. I want to emphasise again that the provisions which are included in the Bill are based on the recommendations of the Committee. The most important chance not dealt with is that to establish a performing rights tribunal, with power to adjudicate in any dispute between the fee-collecting societies which control the rights of composers and gramophone record makers, on the one hand, and music users on the other.
For some time, music users, including bodies like women's institutes, have pressed for such a tribunal. And the collecting societies themselves would welcome it. But the Government, having thought over this matter very carefully, have come to the conclusion that this Bill is an inappropriate place in which to provide for this tribunal, because a tribunal is not immediately necessary for either of the two limited objects of the Bill. The main object of a tribunal would be to control other rights not dealt with in this Bill at all, but which will be dealt with in the later Bill. Also, I must point out that, if it were set up, a tribunal would still not be able to force an unwilling racecourse proprietor to accept television cameras on his course, nor would it compel the B.B.C. or I.T.A. to pay some fee that was unacceptable to them.
I must emphasise, in conclusion, that this Bill is a limited measure, an interim measure: it has limited objectives. We have not time at the moment for a re-codification of the whole of the law of copyright. The major changes, major technical and artistic changes, which have occurred since 1911 would involve an equally major job of recodification. But Her Majesty's Government accept, with some minor modifications, the Report of the Copyright Committee; and a comprehensive Bill based on its other and remaining recommendations is now being drafted. This is an interim measure which is designed to fill a much-felt want, and a want upon which both the B.B.C. and the I.T.A., as well as the viewing-world in general, have expressed a demand. I hope that the Bill will meet with the approval of your Lordships. It will, clearly, be to the public 40 benefit. It deals with matters upon which noble Lords opposite have frequently asked questions. I hope that it will fulfil their hopes. With those words, I beg to recommend the Bill to your Lordships and to move that it be read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Mancroft.)
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
My Lords, if the noble Lord will allow me to say so with respect, I think it would have been better, for the proper appreciation of this Bill, if the noble Lord had gone into a few more facts and a little fewer personal reminiscences. As the noble Lord has said, this is a very serious matter. Therefore I intend, with your Lordships' permission, to fill in some of the blanks which the noble Lord has evidently not thought it worth while to fill in for your Lordships, so that you may have a better appreciation of the fundamental changes which the Bill seeks to bring about. I am delighted that the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, the Postmaster General, is going to wind up this debate, because, if he will permit me to say so, upon this thorny question of television he has always shown himself to be very alive to the feelings of your Lordships and ever ready to give us all the information within his power. His handling of the Television Act, 1954, commended itself to all noble Lords.
This Bill is not politically controversial, but anybody who thinks it is not controversial in other regards is deluding himself. I intend to tell the House what noble Lords on this side, and I expect noble Lords on the other side who have made themselves acquainted with the Bill, think about it. I do not intend to waste your Lordships' time by dealing lengthily with Clause 1, which amends the Copyright Act, 1911, to enable the Government to ratify the Brussels Convention of 1948 and the Universal Copyright Convention of 1952. It is as well for your Lordships to appreciate that the Universal Copyright Convention was designed as a bridge between two parts of the world which had different conceptions of copyright—the countries who are members of the Berne Union, from which the international copyright law stems, and the United States of America, the outstanding exception.
41 Copyright in this country has been based on a conception fundamentally different from that of America. Copyright here is regarded as a natural property right of the author or composer: in America it is a right conferred upon the author with the consent of the State. That is a vitally different thing. In the same way our patent law has been built up on the fundamental principle that the original author, composer or inventor has a monopoly right to protect his interests against piracy and copying. As the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, rightly said, it was because of this different conception that English books in America were not copyright unless they were printed and bound in America. The present Bill enables this difficulty to be got over. The only thing that surprises me is that the United Kingdom Government have been so laggard in ratifying the Universal Convention. Its virtues were apparent. The Copyright Committee of 1952 pressed the Government to do it. On the principle of better late than never, I suppose this is now being done. I want your Lordships to bear clearly in mind this fundamental right of the author or composer to have a monopoly in his work.
We now come to Clause 2. The Bill has only two clauses: if the first is non-controversial, the second is charged with controversy. I think the noble Lord would have been fairer to your Lordships—I say this with no ill will—if he had pointed out that it was with very great reluctance that the Copyright Committee "advised that there should be an exhibiting right." Either through faulty draftsmanship or through one of those freaks of the law which happen in this country, there crept into the 1911 Act by a side wind a performing right in gramophone records which has caused endless trouble. I recall to the noble Earl the interesting debate we had in your Lordships' House on this matter in 1953. For they first time there was brought into copyright law a performing right, by which the gramophone record manufacturer not only has a copyright in the artistic performance on the record but also the power of controlling the performance of that record—something that was never envisaged by Parliament and never contemplated by Parliament, something that has been acting to the detriment of authors and composers ever since, because it has brought into the musical world a veto which is 42 entirely against their interests. This is the right which the Government now propose to establish in this Bill, not by a side wind as it came into the 1911 Act, but with the full force of the law. Let me say that I am not going to question here and now whether or not it is wise for this to be done. We live in a different world from that of 1911. But I hold strongly the view that we should not do this until your Lordships are full apprised of and alerted to precisely what we are doing. The consequences can be serious.
Clause 2 of the Bill lays down that there shall be a new exhibiting right and sets up two quasi-monopolies. Since the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, and I, had that interesting debate on January 21, 1953, a lot of water has flowed under the bridge. I know I shall carry the noble Earl with me, because I am going to use almost the same words which he used on that occasion. The idea of giving the British Broadcasting Corporation an exhibiting right in the public exhibition of television was advanced wholly and solely for the purpose of making it possible for the B.B.C. to control the public exhibition of television by issuing licences and collecting fees, so that they had a greater income to enable them to compensate sporting promoters for allowing the B.B.C. to televise their events. But since that date we have had the Television Act, 1954.
Before I come to that, so that your Lordships and the public at large can be fully alerted to what this really means, I want to deal with the position of the individual composer and author and the right that is inherent in the Copyright Act, 1911. In paragraph 76 of their Report the Copyright Committee say:In the preceding Parts of our Report we have dealt with questions arising out of copyright in printed books and music and manuscripts. These all relate to what we regard as the fundamental rights of the originator of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work which are granted by, and included in, Section 1 of the Copyright Act, 1911. These fundamental rights of the originator include the following:They set this out again in paragraph 79; and in paragraph 115, with regard to broadcasting, they say:
- (a) the right to produce or reproduce an original work in any material form;
- (b) the right to perform the work in public;
- (c) the right to translate it;
- (d) the right to convert a dramatic work into a non-dramatic work or a non-dramatic work into a dramatic work; and finally,
- (e) the right to make any record, perforated roll or cinematograph film from the literary, dramatic or musical work."In discussing the questions relating to copyright in a broadcast (whether sound or television) we wish again to state that, as in the case of gramophone records … we regard as fundamental the right of an author, composer or artist to authorise the use of copyright material for broadcasting purposes.They go on at the end of that paragraph to say:We therefore recommend that it should be made abundantly clear that a copyright owner has the sole right to authorise any broadcasting organisation to make use of his work over their system and to communicate that work to the public, irrespective of whether or not some recipient of the programme emitted is giving a performance of the programme in public.There is one last passage to which I should like to call your Lordships' attention, and it is in paragraph 181, where they say:To begin with, we wish to make it quite clear that we regard the rights we recommend for broadcast programmes or gramophone records as subsidiary to the primary right of the composer or author of a copyright work reproduced by these technical means, and that performing rights in programmes or records should be without prejudice to that primary right.I do not believe that the Government have the slightest intention of violating those principles, because that would go against the whole conception of the copyright law of this country, which has served the country and its artistic people so well. Therefore, I trust they will not have the slightest objection if on the Committee stage we seek to insert in this Bill safe-guards which make that abundantly clear. That is what we shall attempt to do.
I come now to the larger issue, and I want to ask the noble Earl, the Postmaster General, how this is going to work. I have followed the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, with meticulous care, and I know no more now than when he started. I want to take the noble Earl through the process. Again, let me repeat that the sole object of this Bill at its first inception was to provide the British Broadcasting Corporation with sufficient funds to allow them to pay the high and increasing prices for televising sporting events, without which television 44 would not be worth twopence a year. That is the only type of programme that is going to have a major appeal for public exhibition. Public exhibition can range from a Rank cinema circuit and the Savoy Hotel right down to a little back-street boarding house in Scarborough. The only way the fees are to be collected is by the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Independent Television Authority turning themselves into collecting agencies. They will then collect fees on a scale to be set out by somebody, I know not whom, at a rate, I know not what; and I suppose it will range from public television in West End cinemas again to the humble boarding house that lets the top front bed-sitting-room—"Come to 'The Laurels,' Arcadia Grove, Scarborough; television and other modern conveniences."
I want to know who is going to issue the licences; who is going to set the tariff; who is going to settle disputes whether they should have a licence by right—as in the case of charitable institutions, workers' hostels, women's institutes and so on—and how many licences they will have to obtain. So far as I can see—I may be wrong, and, if I am, I know the noble Earl will be generous enough to concede that it is only because I have had no opportunity of acquainting myself with the facts—if I am the owner of an hotel or boarding house and I wish to offer television as one of the amenities to my guests, I must purchase from the Postmaster General a television licence. I then have to get a public exhibiting licence, either from the B.B.C. or the I.T.A., or both. I must also have a licence from the Performing Right Society, because I shall be broadcasting to the public copyright music. I shall also have to obtain a licence from the Phonographic Performance Limited, in case during one of the television transmissions they happen to be using records which are subject to one of their licences.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
No—forgive me; they have not. That is where the noble Lord makes his first fundamental mistake.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
The noble Lord should study his Bill. There is no embargo on any sound emission unless it comes from a television set at the same time as the picture. Sound broadcasting is not brought within the compass of this Bill. I should like the Postmaster General to tell me why it is not. If I have a little back room in the back streets of Scarborough, I have to obtain four licences. Suppose I get my excise licence from the Postmaster General, my licence from the B.B.C. or the I.T.A., and my licence from the Performing Right Society, but am not lucky enough to get one from Phonographic Performance Limited. Immediately I ask my guests to listen to a public television performance of a gramophone record I am, to use the vernacular, "for it." That is how I see it. I do not think that makes common sense, but it may be—and allow me to give the noble Earl the point—the only way to do it, because I appreciate the difficulties. I will put forward later the remedy that I would propose.
I think it is of vital importance that not only your Lordships but also the British public should know the facts. During the passage of the Television Act, 1954, the noble Earl made the concession to your Lordships' House—I think my noble and learned leader was the one who pressed him so hard upon this point—that no exclusive arrangements should be made for the broadcasting of national sporting events. That appears in Section 7 of the 1954 Act. What happens? The B.B.C. and the I.T.A. (why the I.T.A. I do not know; I suppose that for convenience's sake they are going to be the copyright holders, though I should have thought it would be the programme contractors) march hand in hand, like Tweedledum and Tweedledee. If they want to broadcast either the Derby or the Cup Final they go to the responsible authorities—and it may be, if the gentleman who made that much-publicised statement the other day is concerned, that their ideas of price will have to be a little bit greater than they are at the present time. As the noble Lord has said—and this is quite implicit—if the authorities do not want their sporting event televised, there is no power in this country which can force them to permit it. That we recognise straight away. Money is supposed to be the key to the 46 problem—it runs right through this Report.
Suppose that the I.T.A. and the B.B.C. go hand in hand to the authority of the sporting event, whether it be the Cup Final, Wimbledon, the Rugby Union, the Derby or the Grand National, and are told, "Yes you may televise this event, and our price is £10,000." I can imagine the I.T.A. saying, "We do not mind £10,000, because we are going to charge about £1,000 a minute for advertising." The B.B.C., however, may say, "We are very sorry but we cannot afford £10,000; £1,000 is about all we can go to." What happens then? Section 7 of the 1954 Act states that there cannot be any exclusive arrangement, so nothing happens at all. Does the prize go to the biggest bargainer? Surely not, according to the Act of 1954. So what happens? We do not have the television of the Cup Final, or whatever it may be.
What about the hundreds of thousands of pounds of public exhibition fees which the B.B.C. or the I.T.A. will already have collected? Surely it will not be said that every boarding house, private hotel or village hall shall pay an exhibiting fee every time an event is shown. Surely it will be done over twelve months. If it is impossible to make terms with the promoters, are the holders of these public exhibiting licences to be given their money back? As the Copy-right Committee's Report quite plainly sets out, Mr. Jack Solomons may say, "I am promoting a world title fight at the Dome, Brighton. I will allow the I.T.A. and the B.B.C. to televise this, but I shall have in my contract an embargo that it is not to be shown on the screens of television within fifty miles from Brighton, because that would interfere with my 'gate'." That is quite a logical thing. What is going to happen to those within fifty miles of Brighton who have paid for their yearly public exhibiting licence? There are answers which I suggest the British public have got to be told, because if not—and I do not accuse any noble Lord on the Government Front Bench of this—it will be obtaining money under false pretences
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
The noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, says "Oh, no," but you are saying that these people must pay a fee, which may run from £1 47 to £1,000, to show television programmes to the public and then you cannot provide them. What are you going to do? All these things are, I suggest, germane. There is going to be much heartburning over this, not only about who shall have a licence, but about the terms upon which the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. can give it. What we shall want to do on the Comittee stage is to insert into this Bill provision for the appointment of a tribunal. It is useless for the noble Lord to say that the time is not opportune. This Bill must come into effect—I appreciate the urgency of the matter—on October 1 of this year. There are 4 million television sets in operation, and every day more and more sets are going into "pubs," clubs, boarding houses and hotels.
There may be an argument—I am not going to advance it—why a hotel should not have to pay a licence fee for providing its guests with this amenity, but there may be a still greater case for having some independent tribunal to say why they shall be withheld from having a licence of a certain kind. I want to put this point to the noble Earl the Postmaster General. Take the trouble that has occurred with Phonographic Performance Limited and the Musicians' Union, who would not allow gramophone records to be played in any hall or establishment in this country where a live musician could operate. They can put that embargo upon the playing of records on television—the background music of many television programmes is supplied by gramophone records. They will say that no hotel may allow its guests to pirouette round the drawing room floor to the music of Victor Sylvester and his band or something like that, because it is a mechanical contrivance and they must have a band there to play. That is precisely what they have done in respect of gramophone records.
I have tried to state a case, not to say that this Bill is not necessary, not to suggest to the noble Lord who has introduced it to-day or the noble Earl who has the biggest share in it, that it is not the right thing to do, but to show that it would be against the public interest for a Government to set up two monopolies having power to interfere with the hotel and entertainment business of this country without there being set up some tribunal, presided over by an eminent legal authority, not to decide whether the fee 48 paid to the sports promoter is correct but to act in connection with all those incidental things that happen in the life of a community and have happened regarding the Performing Right Society and its method of issuing licences. Also, there is the individual performer who has to be looked after.
As I read this Bill, once Arthur Askey, for instance, has given a television performance of his act, the copyright in that act vests for twenty-five years with either the B.B.C. or the I.T.A. You may say: "Of course, if Arthur Askey is not a better business man than to take cognisance of that when he fixed his contract. …" That may be right, but what about the thousand and one honest troupers who give such good entertainment in some of these television programmes? What is their bargaining power? Again, there should be some appeal about the terms upon which a thing like that is enforced.
I beg your Lordships' pardon; I have been too long, but I thought it only right that this case should be stated. We on this side of the House will not oppose the Second Reading of this Bill but I give the noble Earl notice now that on the Committee and subsequent stages we shall seek to make it abundantly clear that there is nothing in these exhibiting rights which in any way infringes the fundamental right of the author and the composer, and that there shall be set up a tribunal as recommended by the Copyright Committee. The Copyright Committee recommended taking this course "with some reluctance." If your Lordships will take the trouble to look through the Report, you will find it mentioned in one of these paragraphs—I have not the exact reference at the moment. It was because the Committee were fully conscious of the harmful public effect that the misuse of the monopoly right could have that they said that there was only one way of safeguarding the public interest in this matter, and that was to have an independent legal tribunal, in exactly the same way as there is a patents court to settle appropriate cases.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT FURNESS
My Lords, I welcome this Bill, especially Clause 1, which will enable Her Majesty's Government to ratify the Brussels and Geneva Conventions. I must confess that I am 49 not quite so happy about some facets of Clause 2. As the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, has said, the Copyright Committee contemplated giving the new television exhibiting right only "with some reluctance." If my understanding of the Report is correct, it was principally to enable the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. to control the public exhibition of sporting events on television. Am I perhaps reading too much between the lines if I say that it seems to me that there is an underlying connotation of large screen projection—possibly in cinemas, probably closed circuit—for which admission would be charged? I am sure that no one could object very strenuously to that.
What I am thinking of is the casual switching on of a television set in the saloon bar of "the local" on the corner, or by the holiday-maker by the seaside on a rainy day—and unfortunately, there are some rainy days from time to time—who decides to switch on the set in the front parlour of "Sea View." The Copyright Committee reported in 1952. Since that time there has been a tremendous increase in the number of television sets. I am informed that there are over 4 million such sets licensed in this country. I think there will be few people, particularly in a year or two but even now, who will not, assuming that they enjoy television, either have a set themselves or at least be viewing with a member of their family or a friend. Therefore I submit to your Lordships that there could be little question of people going to a hotel or restaurant solely for the purpose of viewing a particular television programme.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble and learned Earl who leads the Opposition for saying that I may speak before he does. I felt that if I spoke after he did there might be nothing left to say. I want to intervene for only a couple of minutes, to support, first, the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth and, secondly, my noble friend, Lord Furness, behind me. As regards what the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, said, I thought before he spoke (and he has convinced me that I was right) that your Lordships were being asked to pass this Bill without any detailed information whatsoever of how it will work. It is on the details that this Bill will either stand or fall. I hope my noble friend the Postmaster General will 50 now give us some details. I can assure him that, if we do not get the details before the Committee stage, he will be very hard pressed on that stage of the Bill. The only other aspect with which I want to deal is the question of hotels. My noble friend Lord Mancroft mentioned that people poured into the hotels; that it was an amenity and an attraction if television were provided, and that the hotels made a lot of money by it.
§ LORD DERWENT
I am sorry if I misunderstood him, but I understood him to say that they drew people by having television and therefore made money by it. That may be the case, to some extent, but the modern-minded hotelier is gradually having television, not only in the lounge but in the bedrooms of his hotel. I hope the noble Earl when he comes to speak—and he knows a great deal about this subject—will give his views on the question of the tourist trade. I believe that in this very competitive trade tourists will, in a very short space of time, expect as a natural amenity television to be shown in one room or more rooms and, in the larger hotels, probably in every bedroom. I feel quite certain that the Americans will expect that. Of course, we do not know what the burdens will be, as we have not been told, but I think we should beware of putting burdens on hotels which will induce them not to provide the amenities that the tourist, particularly the foreign tourist, expects.
There is one other aspect about which I am worried. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, mentioned the question of the small boarding house in a back street of Scarborough. I have probably spoken about this matter before. In my part of the world, in Yorkshire, we have a number of resorts, such as Scarborough, Filey, Bridlington, Whitby, and so on, which, unlike the South Coast resorts, have only one, fairly short, season. When that season is over, most of the big hotels close, opening only for conferences and not for the general public. Some of them remain shut throughout the winter. But many of the smaller hotels, which one might term "almost boarding house—almost hotel," stay open throughout the winter. They do it by providing homes for people, 51 many of whom have no other homes, for eight or nine months of the year at reduced fees. Those reduced fees pay the bare running expenses—and they are the bare running expenses in the non-holiday season. In the three or four months of the holiday season, up go the prices and, in most cases, the people who live in these smaller hotels go away to take their holidays, staying with friends. The profit of the business is made in those three or four months. But the margin of profit, if any, in the winter months (and in most cases there is none) is so small that additional costs of any seriousness would force these small hotels to close in the winter and the people who make their homes there would have to leave.
It seems to me rather shocking that throughout the year I can, if I so wish, sit in my own home and watch the televising of sports programmes without paying anything more than my £3, while either the people who, for eight or nine months of the year, live in a small hotel will, if the fees for this additional showing are fairly high, have the fees (which in many cases they will not be able to afford) passed on to them, or, as is more likely, in the winter the hotel will not provide the amenity of television. I hope the Postmaster General will reconsider this question. The small hotels are not the same as the Metropole at Brighton or the Dorchester in London. I know it is difficult to make a distinction, but in my view hotels should provide the amenities that people away from home would find in their own homes, and I feel that they should not be charged for providing those amenities.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ EARL JOWITT
My Lords, I do not want to make a controversial or Party speech on this matter, for reasons which I will indicate in a moment, but I agree with what the last speaker said. I believe that on all sides of this House this Bill will be carefully scrutinised, and that unless we get some concessions we shall certainly fight it vigorously on the Committee stage. My own view about copyright has long been that the law on the subject has got altogether out of hand. The original conception of an original work, be it music, writing or what you will, and the protection which we 52 gave to it, is wholly good—indeed, in two respects I am not sure that I should have come to the conclusion that the existing protection needed to be extended. I think it has worked very well, and I do not know why it is thought that it should be extended. There was a power of compulsory licence during part of the lifetime of the copyright, and there was power to go to the Privy Council—a power which, so far as I know, has never been exercised; but the mere fact that the power was there has, to my certain knowledge, been of value in inducing people to be reasonable in making agreements. However, for some reason, which is quite obscure to me, those two alterations are now to be made. If it is thought wise, I do not raise controversy about that, although I should have left things as they were.
But where I think copyright has got out of hand altogether is in such respects as this: it was one thing to protect an original work; it was another thing to protect a mere mechanical device such as a gramophone record. I thought it was a grave mistake that, in the case of a gramophone record of some piece of music, taken of course with the consent of the owner of the copyright in that music, the people who deal with the record, which they sell in the market, should be able to exact additional fees if that record is used for anything which can be called a public showing. For instance, if I were to have in my home a dozen young persons and were to give a dance, and I thereupon proceeded to turn on my gramophone, using my records which I have bought, I should be guilty of a breach of copyright. The same thing applies to meetings of the women's institute in one's own village, or other gatherings of that sort. I think it is hard to say that that should be the law and that that, in some way or other, is hitched up to copyright, which is in its essence the protection of an original work of art. As I have said on previous occasions, I think we have gone wrong in that respect.
Equally, with regard to paintings, I think that when a man buys a painting it ought to be understood that he buys the copyright in that painting. I told your Lordships on a previous occasion about our experience at the Tate Gallery, when we reproduced in the form of Christmas 53 cards some of the pictures in the Gallery (which undoubtedly were ours), so that people who came to the Gallery might carry away either a catalogue or coloured cards or something of the sort. We discovered that we were breaking the copyright law, and when the descendants of the artists from whom we had bought the pictures claimed fees, we were told that we should have to pay. I think that is wrong, and I think the matter ought to be cleared up. I am sorry that there is not to be undertaken at the present time such a general revision of the Copyright Act as I think is called for.
Now, my Lords, I come to consider this question about which I have got these feelings, which I expect nearly all your Lordships share. First of all, I think that by far the best thing about television is the sporting event. I think nearly all of us like this form of viewing better than anything else—indeed, if it were not for this, I do not think I should trouble to have a television set. I quite realise the danger that is felt—though I believe it is greatly exaggerated—by the people who promote these sporting events, that their "gates" may be affected and they may lose money, and so on and so forth, if the events are televised. Everybody else believes that to be exaggerated. I give an illustration of which I know something, the somewhat analogous case of concerts on sound radio. The number of people who go to hear good music in this country has enormously increased because, by listening to the radio, they have become accustomed to good music, and have grown to like it. The potential audience is greatly increased, which is all to the good.
I should conjecture the same in regard to sporting events, and that people may well become interested in Rugby football by reason of the fact that they have seen such excellent games as we saw in the English-Scottish match last Saturday—or in the first half, at any rate. With great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Man-croft, I think his illustration of empty seats at the schoolboys' match at Cardiff was a very poor one. We certainly do not need a Minister of Sport in this country, although there might be something to be said for a Sports Council, rather on the lines of the Arts Council, operating, possibly, with some grant from the Government, which could look into 54 such matters as these. That is a subject which we might properly consider on another occasion.
I am in favour of the people who provide sports. I believe they are doing splendid work. I am in favour of sports being shown also on television. How to combine those two in a workable way is the attempt of this Bill. We have not had pointed out to us how fundamentally this Bill is at variance with the Report of the Copyright Committee. I have had representations from the hotel industry, the Music Users' Federation and the Performing Right Society who have come to me because I have the great honour of being president of the British Holiday and Travel Association, of which the hotel industry in this country is a constituent branch. After what the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, has just said I am bound to tell noble Lords that it is essential to consider this fact. Our flow of visitors depends upon the hotels and the quality of the entertainment and comfort that they are given. Do not forget that this tourist industry has now become our most important industry, bringing in more dollars than any other. These facilities must be provided in hotels.
From letters which I have received it appears that hotels are concerned at being left to deal with these people, who can exact just whatever fees they like. The Government have done away with the tribunal and that creates a very serious situation. The Music Users' Federation say:The amount of the additional licence fee will be one which the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. can arbitrarily determine, and against which there is no appeal machinery whatever.The British Hotels and Restaurant Association say:The Association observes that the Copyright Committee only contemplated giving this new right 'with some reluctance.' and largely to enable the broadcasting authority to control the public exhibition of televised sporting events. The Bill, as now drafted, would give much wider powers to the broadcasting authority, as it would enable it to control the exhibition of Any televised programmes 'in public,' for which it could exact any fee it chose,How can it do that? To provide normal amenities a hotel buys its wireless set and is accustomed to use it for the benefit of these guests. When some sporting event comes on television, is the hotelier to close down? If he does not shut off his receiver 55 there is no tribunal to fix what is a fair fee. He can be bled white, and no appeal is possible to any tribunal. Such an arrangement cannot be worked without a tribunal.
I do not pretend to be an expert on copyright but in my days at the Bar I was fortunate enough to be entrusted by the Performing Right Society with some of their difficult problems. These are the original artists, the people who produce the music. They press for a tribunal. They are very ready and anxious to submit their fees to a tribunal. They say:… the matter may well arise in the discussion of this present Bill, and we would like you to know that, far from being reluctant to submit our tariffs to the arbitration of an official Tribunal, we are only too anxious to see it established at the earliest possible moment, and it is merely out of a desire to co-operate with our licensees that we have temporarily ceased pressing for it.If the people who write the music are willing to submit their fees to a tribunal to determine what is a reasonable fee, surely it is only fair that these people (who have not themselves produced an original work but have merely recorded it on some contrivance) should submit their fees to some tribunal.
I do not think this House would allow the Bill to go through in this form, with no safeguard. I humbly suggest to the noble Earl the Postmaster General that between this and the next stage of the Bill he must think again. I can quite understand why he wants to do this; but if he is to adopt this wholly new system, and give this new and considerable extension of copyright, he must surely take steps to see that it is not abused. The more serious fact of licences and present difficulties indicate that the appointment of a tribunal is the only possible course. I very much hope that, though we shall give the Bill a Second Reading to-day, the noble Earl will, when we come (not hurriedly I hope) to the Committee stage, have thought over this matter again. I hope he will come in a generous and giving mood, prepared to consider as an essential element of this system the establishment of some tribunal to see that people who otherwise might be exploited are not exploited.
My Lords, I rise with considerable reluctance to say a word for a noble Lord who has had to 56 go and has asked me to speak for him. Before doing so, may I recall to the noble and learned Earl who has just spoken, and who talked of the difficulty of the gramophone record played in his house, the device adopted by Mr. Pélissier when we were both young? He wanted to play the "Merry Widow" waltz in his theatre. He composed a note which he inserted in the middle of the waltz, and sometimes with pride he played this alone. Thus he was able to play the "Merry Widow" waltz with his note as often as he pleased without any infringement of copyright. The case to which I have to reply in a very few words is that of the British Film Industry, which for some time has been investigating the possibility of using television not for the purpose of broadcasting to home viewers but as a means of giving cinema-goers the opportunity of seeing on a large screen, as part of the ordinary cinema performance, television items produced by the film industry itself. Experiments are going on, but it will probably be some years before the industry's plans will cover the whole of the country. They feel, however, that it would only be right that the Government should be asked to extend the scope of the Bill to give copyright protection to programmes to be transmitted by television for paying audiences. I believe that was contemplated by the Government in their statement of policy in 1952.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
My Lords, I do not think the Government should be either surprised or regretful at the reception which has been given to the Bill. We know that the subject with which it deals is an extremely difficult one, and it is natural that your Lordships should be extremely concerned about it. I think the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, was a little unfair to Lord Mancroft, who, it seemed to me, put the general problem before us extremely well. Let me just say this, because I think it is the answer to a great deal that has been said to-day. Let us remember that it is for the Government to give certain rights to certain bodies, rights which they can operate, such as copyright which has been granted in the past; but it was not the Government that set up the whole machinery of the Performing Right Society. It is for this reason we now 57 propose to give the rights, but not to evolve the machinery for collection, and so on. I think that that is a very brief answer to a great number of the questions that have been put in the course of the debate.
One overwhelming point which stands out in my mind as a result of this discussion is that the Government's decision to attempt to isolate certain immediate problems that had to be dealt with on an urgent basis, whilst promising to your Lordships a comprehensive Bill on the future, has been justified, over and over again. Most of the difficulties that have been brought up by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, on the question, for instance, of the recording of sound—he spoke of that at some length on a previous occasion and he has dealt with it also to-day with great feeling—are of long standing. That illustrates the supreme difficulty of this question. The noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, went almost further than did Lord Lucas of Chilworth. He said that he thought the subject of coypright has got quite out of hand.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
I agree with the noble and learned Earl about the immense difficulties. Her Majesty's Government will certainly do everything in their power to meet noble Lords in their natural apprehensions about the Bill. I hope your Lordships will realise that it is not merely a question of Parliamentary time. As realists, we have to consider certain Bills which deal with certain subjects, and inevitably controversy arises. It sometimes takes a substantial amount of time to jump all the Parliamentary hurdles. It is difficulties of the kind outlined that increase the problem of drafting a comprehensive Bill dealing with a subject which the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, has said has got so much out of hand.
I feel inclined to say to noble Lords opposite, by all means let us see what Amendments and alterations you want us to consider—I speak here as being responsible for television—but please do not let us introduce so many of the more difficult points into this subject that in fact we end up by nearly killing a very useful and necessary Bill, a Bill which deals with this subject, I thoroughly admit, in a very limited way on an interim basis. Both the noble and learned Earl, 58 Lord Jowitt, and Lord Mancroft, spoke of the essential need for the point that we have tried to isolate in Clause 2—I know that noble Lords will forgive me if I pass over Clause 1. I think we are agreed upon the urgent need for dealing with the question covered in Clause 2. I should like here to take the opportunity of paying a warm tribute to the promoters of sporting events for the manner in which they have co-operated with us in the last two years, frequently at risk of some loss to themselves. They have done it, I say frankly, mainly on the assurance that we were going to deal with this matter, if only on an interim basis, in the near future. It is possible to bring up all sorts of grievances—for instance, the cases of people who missed payment for copyright and who may have to help to meet the cost. Then there is the case of hotels. I speak with a certain amount of embarrassment here because I think I am Vice-President of the Hotels and Restaurant Proprietors Association.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
A part proprietor. I must speak from my heart and say whether I am an interested party or not. I am clear that unless some right is awarded enabling the B.B.C. or the I.T.A. to pay promoters more than they have been paying up till now, there will not be any sporting events at all to be televised: and for the poor old ladies in "Sea View" it will not be a matter whether they have to pay an extra 10s. or £1 in order to see a football cup tie; the football cup tie will not be shown. That is a problem we have to meet. It is really a question of whether these people should so insist upon having something for nothing that, in fact, they get nothing at all. That is the danger. That is the point I would ask the noble Lords, Lord Furness, and Lord Derwent, to face. That is certainly the problem I have had to face, and it is the problem which the Copyright Committee had to face. It is a point that drove the Committee, albeit with reluctance (and I think the fact that they have done it with reluctance really strengthens the case rather than otherwise), to make their recommendation which we are carrying out.
§ EARL JOWITT
Which you are carrying out! There is a fundamental difference in that you are dropping these tribunals.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
I was going to deal with that point. The noble and learned Earl has said that this Bill is at complete variance with the Report. There is nothing in the Bill that does not arise out of that Report. It is perfectly true that as this is an interim measure there are many things in the Report which are not touched in the Bill. I do not want to commit myself about tribunals for the moment, because I know that in all probability one or more noble Lords will put an Amendment down on the Committee stage and we shall then have to discuss it, but, as the noble and learned Earl has mentioned tribunals, I do not mind saying that I do not think a tribunal is the ultimate solution of the problem. A tribunal can deal with difficulties between the B.B.C. and I.T.A. and one or two people who want to enjoy a public performance, and so on, but if it settles terms that are not agreeable to the promoters, either the promoters will not allow—
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
I thought I had made that plain. We would not for one moment countenance interference by anyone with the free play of negotiation between the B.B.C. and I.T.A. and the sports promoters, because the promoters must of necessity have the last word. It is the chain onwards, from that point, that we are worried about.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
I do not think I am quite clear as to what the noble Lord means. Perhaps he means the relationship between the B.B.C. and those who enjoy performances and therefore have to pay. Naturally that will have to be settled by negotiation, as all these performing right questions are now settled. If, in fact, the amount is settled by the tribunal or anyone else at too low a rate, the B.B.C. or I.T.A. will not be able to pay the promoters what they want; therefore the item will not be broadcast. Therefore I think the point I tried to make is a fair one.
May I now try to deal with a number of points that noble Lords raised? The question has been asked, who will issue the licences? Of course the B.B.C. and I.T.A. will give the licences and will collect their fees.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
That is the sort of machinery that will have to be created by those bodies. It is not for the Government to do it. I should have thought that there will almost certainly have to be a central agency if the machinery of collection is to be at all effective. As I said at the beginning of my speech, that is a matter for the collecting bodies who are given the right. If they do not set up effective machinery they will not collect their money. Another question was, who will settle the tariffs? Again, it will have to be the B.B.C. and I.T.A. But the tariff will depend a great deal on what the promoters demand for whatever sport is to be televised. It is obvious that this will be a matter for negotiation. If the broadcasting authority offer too little, they will not get the event. On the other hand, if the promoters ask too much, they will not have their event televised and will not get anything at all. I should imagine that, on the whole, the best way of evolving machinery for dealing with these performances would be to issue a form of blanket licence for all events, or practically all events, perhaps with certain exceptions that might be dealt with separately. I should have thought that a number of the noble Lord's questions would have been answered by making the agencies work on the basis of negotiating a blanket licence in every case between those who want to show sporting events on television and the broadcasting authority. It is obvious that if the machinery is to work at all, there will have to be in the negotiations a difference in the sum demanded by the broadcasting authority from Dorchester Hotel, on the one hand, and from Lord Derwent's friends at Seaview Hotel, on the other.
§ EARL JOWITT
My Lords, I quite see the difference between the Dorchester and the Seaview Hotel; that is obvious. But suppose the two are more or less comparable, and that it is agreed in the case of one to pay a blanket fee of 500 guineas—or £5; I do not know what it is going to be—and in the other to exact much more. Surely it would be grossly unfair, unless there were some tribunal to which they could go and say: "This has been given to our rival A on these terms; you ought to be able to give it to us on the same terms," and try to make a case. Surely that must be so.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
That sort of problem has been dealt with for years by the Performing Right Society.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
I am not saying that there shall never be a tribunal, but there is some question of whether it is wise to risk delaying this Bill by inserting provision for it here. I think my noble friend Lord Mancroft has made it abundantly clear that the Government accept the main recommendations of the Copyright Committee, and undoubtedly the tribunal is one of the main recommendations. Therefore, I think we can take it that we are not discussing whether or not there shall be a tribunal, but whether it is wise to insert it in this small interim measure. I am not in a position to say "Yes" or "No" to that, but I am in a position to say that we shall consider the matter. I think I have dealt with all the noble Lord's points except the question of gramophone records.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl what is going to happen under Section 7 of the Television Act, 1953, which provides that there can be no exclusive broadcast of major sporting events? What is going to happen if there is a difference of opinion about the price to be paid between the I.T.A. and the B.B.C.? Would he tell us that?
§ EARL DE LA WARR
If there is a difference of opinion between the I.T.A. and the B.B.C. as to what should be paid, and one body has offered to pay a certain sum, then, unless we take some special steps, which we are not intending to take at the moment but which we have powers to take under that section, obviously the authority who are prepared to pay will have the right. I am glad the noble Lord has brought up that matter, because it reminds me of an important point the noble Lord made and with which I neglected to deal. He said that the I.T.A. are going to be in a much better position to pay for an important event. I would ask the noble Lord whether he is quite sure he is right. Talking generally, I should have said that this Bill is far more necessary to the B.B.C. than to the I.T.A. It can certainly be contended that that is so, for the reason that the I.T.A. are really interested in the number of listeners to their programmes, and the more people in private houses, hotels or 62 anywhere else who listen, the better will be their organisation. The B.B.C.'s revenue is not affected by the number of listeners to a particular programme. Therefore I think it must be the B.B.C. who gain from this legislation.
Let me pass to the less theoretical point of what is the financial position now of the B.B.C. Their revenue in 1951 was £12 million a year; by 1954 it had gone up to 18 million a year; in 1955 it is £22½ million; and during the last two years just over 1 million new television licences have been taken out each year.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
No—less a fixed sum for the Treasury; and the Post Office taking only its exact costs of collection.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
It is £2 million. But that is not taken from the £22½ million. The figure of £22½ million is the B.B.C. revenue, and it has gone up from £12 million in four years. It must be remembered, also, that every television licence that is taken out, even if the viewer who takes it out intends to look only at I.T.A. programmes, will add to the revenue of the B.B.C. Therefore I do not think the noble Lord need have any fear on that account.
As I said when I commenced my speech, this debate has driven home to me the immense wisdom of the Government in trying to restrict this Bill to points that need dealing with at once. I want to assure your Lordships not only that any points that are brought forward on Committee will be looked at and considered carefully, but that, even if they do not go into this Bill, our pledge that comprehensive legislation will be introduced on the whole subject is not an empty one. We are already engaged in active consideration of the future Bill. I hope I may conclude by again asking your Lordships to move on the Committee stage any Amendments upon which you feel strongly, but not to press them to the point where it may make it difficult to give this Bill the urgent passage that, in my view, it needs.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a; and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.