HL Deb 01 March 1961 vol 229 cc79-221

2.34 p.m.

LORD SHEPHERD rose to draw attention to the Reports and Accounts of the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Independent Television Authority for 1959–60, and policy in Sound and Television Broadcasting; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, as I look at the list of speakers in the debate this afternoon, I feel that I should declare that I have no interest in the subject other than that of a licence holder for sound and television. The noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack has kindly agreed at a somewhat late moment to take part in this debate, and he has told me that, unfortunately, he will not be able to stay until the end. I fully appreciate the great pressure under which the Lord Chancellor works, and I am sure we are grateful that he is taking part in what I personally consider to be one of the most important debates on this subject.

I am conscious of a very heavy task. The Motion that I have laid before your Lordships is a broad one, and I feel, with such a list of speakers, that I should try to make my remarks as brief as possible. Therefore, I may not be able fully to cover all the points that should be covered in these two Reports, or to deploy the arguments on one side or the other in regard to future development. We are discussing a medium that science has given us; something which, in my view, is more than pure entertainment. We are discussing an instrument, and I think we shall have to make a decision not only how best that instrument should be served, but how it should serve the country. Is it to have a noble purpose, or is it to be something base? I think that is the question that we in Parliament, and the Government, in particular, will have to make up our minds about in the next three or four years.

My original intention had been to initiate a debate on the British Broadcasting Corporation. At the present stage in its Charter, I thought it would be opportune that we should have a debate to review what I regard as the exciting achievements of this Corporation; to consider those achievements in some detail, and then to look to the future. There is much to be said and much to be written of the achievements of this public corporation. They have pioneered in this country sound radio. They pioneered television to such an extent that in 1936 we in this country led the world in having the first public television service. And that work continues. The British Broadcasting Corporation, through their engineers, pioneered the development of Eurovision. They have spent considerable sums of money on colour television; and they were the creators of what is called cable film, which now makes it possible for us in this country and those in the United States to see pictures of events of historic importance more or less at the moment that those events are taking place. The development has been quite remarkable. In 1950, in pure television, there were half a million sets; to-day, ten years later, we have an extra 10 million.

Much as I should have liked to make a speech on the British Broadcasting Corporation, I was aware of considerable concern not only in regard to future policy in sound broadcasting and television in this country, but also in administration and presentation, on the part of both the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Independent Television Authority. The recent events between the programme contractors and the national Press have, I believe, sharpened the necessity for this debate. Therefore, after consultation with a number of my colleagues, I decided to amend my original Motion to that which lies before your Lordships to-day.

Sound broadcasting in this country commenced in 1922. The Government of the day and Parliament, and subsequent Governments and Parliaments, realised the importance of this new medium and set up four different Committees: first, the Sykes Committee, in 1923; the Crawford Committee, in 1925; the Ullswater Committee, in 1935, and the Beveridge Committee, in 1949. At this point may I say how delighted I am that the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, should be here this afternoon to contribute to the debate, as well as my noble friend Lord Taylor, who was also a member of that Committee. It must be remembered that these Committees reaffirmed the belief that this medium—sound and television—should be a public service. The Government, knowing that they will have to make a decision on development very shortly, have set up a strong Committee to review all the aspects of sound and television broadcasting. It is under the chairmanship of Sir Harry Pilkington. Perhaps this is the most important Committee that has been set up, because we know within which boundaries we can develop both sound and television. For technical reasons, we have the boundaries, and therefore the decisions of this Committee, and the Government decisions that will follow, may well create a structure for this medium in this country for an indefinite period.

I think we must face the fact that this Committee has a formidable task. There are not only matters of broad general policy which must be considered, but many technical matters which will have to be assimilated and analysed; because on those technical matters a general policy will be based. We must also recognise that considerable pressure will be brought to bear on this Committee, particularly by vested interests. I have confidence that the Committee will produce a Report, not taking into account these vested interests, but for the good of the public. The Committee are not due to report until 1962. A large number of important matters have been referred to the Committee, and many of them, in my judgment, can ill afford to be left until 1962. Therefore, the first question that I would put to the noble Viscount is whether the Government will have urgent conversations with the Chairman and the Committee to see if we cannot have an Interim Report, or Reports, on specific matters, because some of these are so important that I think we need the views of this Committee as soon as possible, so that Governmental and legislative action can be taken.

What are the Pilkington Committee faced with? They are faced with the fact that there are two public authorities in this medium. On the one hand, there is the B.B.C. who are entirely responsible in this country for sound radio and who are also responsible, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, for external services. They are also responsible for one system of television, which now covers 99 per cent. of the country. On the other hand, there is the Independent Television Authority, with its programme contractors providing one system of television—admittedly for a smaller area than that of the B.B.C., but vastly expanding. If one organisation had an advantage over the other, it would lie perhaps with the B.B.C. The Corporation has had a long experience since 1922. It has evolved and developed within itself, particularly in the field of technical and engineering knowledge. It has a unique position, but it has been restricted in its development by available finance and by Government policy, in particular that of the Television Act, 1954. In the case of the Independent Television Authority, that on its side also has an advantage over the B.B.C. It has had little difficulty in recent years in the way of finance, and it has been able—I think it would be the first to admit it—to exploit the technical and engineering knowledge of the Corporation, with little cost to itself.

What does this service cost the country? I have not been able to get any accurate figures, but I personally assess the cost to the public as in the region of £120 million per annum. I come to that figure when I take into account the excise tax which the Government derives from licences of a figure of £11 million; the B.B.C. gross revenue of £36 million, and the advertising revenue on which the I.T.A. and the programme contractors operate, of a figure of £75 million to £80 million. In my judgment, these last two figures are very interesting, for they show the disparity between the two authorities in the availability of finance.

In 1925, the Crawford Committee reported that in their view there should be a public Corporation for sound, and from that the British Broadcasting Company was created. It was created under a Royal Charter, and since then there have been three further Royal Charters. The present Charter of the B.B.C. is until 1962, although it has been extended for convenience to 1964. Broadly, the responsibility of onus that was placed upon the B.B.C. was that they should provide a balanced programme, and that it should be a public service. It is difficult to come to what is a balanced programme. The public is made up of many sections and segments. There are many who require broad and light entertainment; there are many who require information, news and comment, and there are many who require the classics, both in music and in word. But even these sections can be divided into different categories because of age and education. When one talks of a balanced service, I feel that what one means is that the service, whether it is sound or television, at reasonable hours in the day provides from time to time and at fairly regular intervals a type of programme that that particular section requires.

We have had discussions in many debates on what constitutes a public service. It is difficult sometimes to find a definition, but in regard to radio and television I found a very good definition. It was given by Sir Ian Jacob, who was Director-General of the B.B.C., and perhaps I may read it. He said that public-service broadcasting is a compound of a system of control, an attitude of mind, and an aim, which if successfully achieved results in service which cannot be given by any other means. The system of control is full independence, or the maximum degree of independence that Parliament will accord. The attitude of mind is an intelligent one capable of attracting to the service the highest quality of character and intellect. The aim is to give the best and the most comprehensive service of broadcasting to the public that is possible. The motive that underlies the whole operation is a vital factor; it must not be vitiated by political or commercial considerations. My Lords, have the B.B.C. carried out that policy? I unhesitatingly say that, within the finance available, within the availability of medium, this is the case.

If we take the case of sound, the B.B.C. have available to them three major wavelengths, for the Home Service, the Light Programme, and for the Third Programme and Network Three. Each programme has its own individuality, yet on occasions there is overlapping. In order to give some local flavour to the programmes there are the regional programmes. There is a broad balance in sound radio, and this does not come about by mere accident; it comes about—and I emphasise this—only by long-term, very careful planning and coordination by the authorities concerned. IL is also supported by listener research; and the Listener Research Bureau is the only one in the country. This Bureau provides the information which is analysed and on which development of programmes are based. There was a great deal of objection a few weeks ago because the B.B.C. had decided to move the 9 o'clock news to 10 o'clock. This broke great tradition, and I, for one, was rather sorry. But the facts and figures that were available to the Corporation gave them no alternative; and that move was made.

My Lords, while television may catch the public eye, is sound dead? Is it finished? It is interesting to note that in this country to-day one person in five is still dependent on sound radio for pits entertainment, its comment and news. In the course of the day over 20 million people listen to the sound radio, and even at peak periods in the evening two to three million people are listening to their programmes. In my view, therefore, the B.B.C. sound radio is a continuing necessity. Let us face the fact that the accounts of the B.B.C. indicate that there is some liquidity. I would remind the House, however, that over a period of years the Corporation have had to subsidise their Television Service from revenues which they had originally apportioned to sound. This is the point which I wished to emphasise when I said earlier that expansion of the B.B.C. has been restricted by finance.

The great question which this House and Parliament must decide is how this particular medium, sound radio, is to develop. In the major wavelengths there are no facilities available, for we are governed by international agreement. The only possible extension of service is in the low-powered wavelengths, which means local stations. The question is: Are these to develop as a public service or are they to emerge and develop as commercial stations? T do not wish to deploy the arguments one way or the other. I do not believe that there is any public demand for commercial sound radio. I think that there are many reasons why we should reject it. But I must warn the House that if local stations became based on commercial advertising revenue, that would kill the local newspapers, I do not think there is any doubt about that. The evidence of the effects of commercial television, with its advertising content, on the national Press and on the regional Press would be very much stronger in the case of local newspapers.

Before leaving sound radio T must say something in regard to the external services. This is nothing new: we have had it in the House on many occasions. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Strang, this afternoon will drive this point home. The external services are of vital importance to this country in its foreign affairs. The Government grant last year was £6,663,000. It had a small surplus of £16,000. The Corporation are quite unable to extend their services without finance from Her Majesty's Government. I believe the time has come when we need a definite answer in this matter, and I hope the noble Lord, Lord Strang, will insist upon it. The B.B.C., I think, have over the years played a unique part, not only in education and the cultural development of our country; they have achieved much in the engineering field. I think their greatest achievement is that over the years, years of war, years of political conflict, the integrity of the B.B.C. has never been questioned. I do not think this can be ascribed to any one individual. It cannot be ascribed to the governors, to the advisory councils or to the staff. I think this is one effort of the whole Corporation, and I think the country is indeed grateful to them.

I now turn to the television position. The B.B.C. pioneered television in this country and had a monopoly until 1954, when the Government took the Minority Report of the Beveridge Committee and created the commercial programmes. The B.B.C. have had to stand their position during this time, and they have done so, I think, to a remarkable degree. When one considers that the B.B.C. to-day provide a programme for 99 per cent. Of the population—not only the programmes themselves but all the transmitters—with a sum of £19 million, and one compares it with 'the availability of funds to I.T.A., one realises, I think, that it has been a remarkable achievement.

From the Accounts, it is obvious that if we are going to develop a third service of television in this country (and we can, within Band III) further finance must be available to the Corporation. I have seen many figures as to what this would cost the public. The B.B.C. inform me that they can provide all the sound radio and two services of television throughout the country, one of which, if desired, would be in colour, for a licence fee of £5 per annum. This figure would still leave us with the cheapest service in Europe.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord to ask whether the B.B.C. are satisfied that the necessary talent is available in this country to run these two channels?


On the basis on which the programmes are based, with their present standard of light entertainment there may be some difficulty in finding the talent. But, surely, what we in this country want is a much more balanced programme, not just light entertainment. I am sure that if the will is there we shall find the talent for that service. In spite of the fact that the Corporation have had available only one channel, they have provided a reasonably balanced service. I am sure that the Corporation themselves are not satisfied with the balance, but within the few hours available to them they must, of course, cater for the vast majority. I think that within the time available to them they have provided a reasonably balanced service.

I turn to the question of the I.T.A. They have, if I may say so, a rather peculiar set-up. On the one hand, you have a public authority which has so-called control of the types of programmes and the general administration; they provide the transmitting services and put out to contract the opportunity of providing the programmes the revenue for which comes from advertising. Possibly from the Treasury point of view the I.T.A. are most satisfactory. I believe that the original capital has been repaid, and last year they showed a profit of £1,287,000. The I.T.A. have been very quick in expanding their service. But we cannot consider I.T.A. in pure isolation; we must take into account the programme contractors who provide perhaps the greatest part of the service. There are thirteen of these contractors. Admittedly, in the very early days these companies were involved in great expenditure. In the first year there were some losses. But those companies have now recovered their position and are to-day financially strong; they are making large profits and are now diversifying themselves into other spheres.

Time does not permit me to deal with all thirteen companies, but to indicate the growth of their profits I would deal with three. First of all, there is the Granada Group. Originally, this company were in theatres and cinemas but they are now a programme contractor. The average profits in 1947 to 1957 were £350,000; in 1958 they were £1,160,000, and in 1960 they were £2,770,000. Then I take Associated Television, which is purely a programme contractor. In 1956, the first year of operation, they had a loss of £362,000; in 1958 they had a profit of £4,053,000, and in 1960 the profit was £5,844,000. Here it is interesting to note that the total emoluments of the eleven directors were £189,000. The latest company is Independent Television of South Wales. This company issued their 1960 Report last week. They have been in operation for three years. In the second year of operation they had a profit of £1,170,000. In 1960 the profit was £1,490,000. This year they are paying 110 per cent. on a capital that was made free out of original profits. I understand that the total profits of these contractors is in excess of £20 million.

I do not attack I.T.A. I do not attack the programme contractors. They are only exploiting the position which was created by the Government and by Parliament. The noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, speaking in 1954, said: You are attacking a Government monopoly, but you are creating tycoon monopoly. These programme contractors do not face any competition; there is no competition in their areas. Not only can they command the rate for advertising time, but to support them they have only a limited amount of time to sell. I fully admit that in the early days it was speculative. It was largely speculative because of the urgency of getting into broadcasting. Much money was wasted. But today the rich garden of profit is there. It is now blooming. I must ask the House and the noble Viscount at this stage: have we to wait until 1964. with these mounting profits—and they will mount further—before something is done? Surely it is possible to amend the original Act?

There are some who advocate that if the monopoly is broken by the creation of a second commercial service, that in itself will bring down the price of advertising and will reduce the profits. I do not accept this view. What I think will in fact happen is that initially the rates will come down, and that will widen the field of advertisers to firms who will then be capable of advertising; but the vicious part is that once a type of industry starts advertising on television it must continue to do so or it will die. The increased number of people advertising on television will undoubtedly mean that advertising will be taken from the newspapers, and we shall see the death of more of to-day's national and regional papers. And when that happens, with the reduced amount of advertising space in the national Press and the need to continue to advertise on television, the rates will go up again; and so will the profits.

I am not thinking too much of the public. The public require a proper, balanced service, and I do not believe that if we give this third service to commercial channels we shall get a balanced programme. What we shall get—and this is bound to happen, because they will be fighting for advertising revenue, and that comes only from the seller who can provide a guaranteed number of listeners—is the same type of programme on both channels.

I am quite convinced in my own mind that if we are to provide the type of service that this country needs, a balanced and alternative programme, that can come only from having a public corporation using these two channels, co-ordinating and developing their programmes on planned lines, providing the type of programme which they know the different sections require. We can will the way. We can will the money. It has been said that television will make the same impact on public opinion as the Caxton press. The noble Earl the Foreign Secretary has spoken many times in your Lordships' House on the need for a strong moral fibre in this country. I believe that sound radio and television can help to provide that moral fibre. This is not only a medium of entertainment: it can and must, provide something more. I believe that in our hearts we know the type of programme we want. This may be our last opportunity; I hope that we shall take it. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.13 p.m.


My Lords, with the list of 20 speakers that we have before us, every speaker, and above all those early in the list, has one clear duty: to be as short as he possibly can. May I, in spite of that, go back so far as to remind noble Lords, without being called to order, of something in my past? I was Chairman of a Broadcasting Committee appointed in 1949 whose Report was published in 1951—a Committee of 11 members. Ten members of that Committee supported the continuance of the B.B.C. as a monopoly having no rival independent agencies. It is true that three of those ten, including myself, as Chairman, and the two lady members, did not think that we should necessarily prevent any advertising over the air. While accepting the existing rule that there should be no advertisement without formal approval by the Minister, we thought that it might not be harmful to have occasional advertisements. But at the same time we made it clear that B.B.C. finance should not rest on what the Corporation got from advertising; and we said, in so many words, that the financial control of broadcasting should not pass into the hands of people concerned to sell goods and services. We emphasised that as strongly as we could.

None of the Committee members who supported the B.B.C. as a monopoly suggested that the B.B.C. were perfect. We said all kinds of things against them, and I myself was able to speak from experience of officials there getting likes and dislikes. While Sir John Reith was there the officials liked me very much; but, for some reason, when he went they disliked me very much. I may add that I have only to-day had a letter from a musician who is thoroughly unhappy. He writes at great length saying he cannot get from the B.B.C. the attention he thinks he deserves. I do not say he is right, but I do say that there ought to be some recognised office (not an office of listener research) for hearing complaints and seeing that those are thoroughly and properly investigated. That is wanted whether or not there is a monopoly.

I put that to your Lordships as the view of ten members of that Committee who had a lot of discussion, wrote a tremendous amount and made all kinds of minority provisions. One member, and one member only, made a Minority Report though it can hardly be called that. It was the view of one member—and that member, as we all know, is now a very distinguished Minister, the right honourable and learned gentleman, Mr. Selwyn Lloyd—that: The evil"— of our broadcasting and television system— lies in the system, the control by a minority of this great medium of expression. And he proposed, instead, another body.

As a Minister, he was able to overnille all his ten colleagues—if I may say so, without consulting them—and got the Independent Television established as an independent body financed by advertisements: which means, of course, all the difference in the influence exercised. It means bringing into what goes out over the air or is seen on television the influence of people who are trying to make money for themselves. When, last year, on the Motion of the noble Earl, Lord Bessfborough, your Lordships' House discussed 'methods of miseducation and education in the modern age, While I spoke as little as possible about my quarrel on the financing of this body (I avoided that as much as possible) I said that I believed, from a study I had made of television, that what I have just said about money influence is true. I may say I have no television set, but for that purpose I studied television with great care through another set, and I got together a collection of what seemed to me perfectly hideous and demoralising pictures which were being put over under the influence of those who financed the I.T.V. in those days—the very people who are seeking for some means of getting more money from what they sell. I still believe that that is so; and before I end I am going to repeat as strongly as I can that, in one way or another, we must do away with the money influence that is controlling this enormous power of influencing public opinion. We must use this great means of making, the best possible public opinion, educating young and old alike; not refusing also to amuse them and entertain them but avoiding corrupting them in any way at all.

I also remember—and I want to repeat it because it is a very good argument—the emphasis the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, placed on making television particularly an educational system. He stressed the fact that in the United States, which is sometimes looked down on as so inferior to ourselves, there were 51 non-commercial educational stations for broadcasting. We have nothing like that. Why should we not have something like it? We have some schools that take broadcasting or television, but their number is very small indeed. Let us somehow emulate the United States of America in making more use of the air in teaching in schools and universities alike. As I put it then, television is too powerful a means of influencing the public mind to be left in any way under the control of people who have any purpose other than that of public service. That means that, whether it is a monopoly or not, we have somehow to free it of money influence. Whoever broadcasts or televises ought to get the money not from business men wishing to advertise, but, if necessary, from the licence fees paid by the people who are going to listen or watch. They are the people who, by paying, should call the tune; not the advertisers.

I have three practical points to put. Whether a monopoly or not, make this a public service free of money control. Whether a monopoly or not, the kind of public service that we suggested for the B.B.C. is wanted for broadcasting and television. And, above all, in television cut down or avoid pictures of violence and crime. We all know, to our great grief, that somehow or other there seems to be more violence among young people to-day than there use to be. I do not know whether there is more than there used to be, but it is certainly more than there should be. But when these young people see violence and crime on the pictures before them, will it not give some of them the idea of emulating those deeds? It seems to me quite terrible to be putting over, or to allow anyone to be putting over, such pictures as those.

The way of controlling it is not by listener research and finding what people want, but by a proper complaints division in the hands of the Minister, to whom one could send anything that appeared appropriate. There should be someone to whom anyone who sees on television or hears on broadcasting anything that ought not, in his view, to be there, can write. I do not know to whom I am going to send the letter of my musician who wants more attention. I should like to know; perhaps some Minister will be able to tell me. I do not know whether there will be anybody who will pay attention to it.

That is all I wanted to say in general terms and I come now to mention the fact that we are in a rather awkward position now, in speaking while the Pilkington Committee are sitting. I am delighted that they should be sitting. I am delighted that they should be taking plenty of time over the work. I only hope that they, by reading what is said in to-day's debate, will come at least to three conclusions. Whether or not they return to the question of monopoly, will they get rid of money influence on the contents of programmes over the air or on television? Will they set up some control authority making it clear that the duty of everyone who broadcasts or televises is to regard it as, first and foremost, a method of influencing the minds of citizens and of future citizens? It does not matter whether you influence the minds of the old or not; they will be out of the way. But for the future citizens it is vitally important to influence rightly. Therefore, above all, avoid pictures of ugliness and violence.

3.26 p.m.


My Lords, although I must do justice to the two admirable speeches to which we have just listened and to the importance of this subject, for the introduction of which we are indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, I entirely agree with my noble friend Lord Beveridge that early speakers should do their utmost not to interfere with the flow of the debate; and I will make an effort to carry out the intention which Lord Beveridge has put into effect himself. Therefore I hope that your Lordships will acquit me of discourtesy if I concentrate mainly on the setting up of the Pilkington Committee and certain general problems, and leave the discussion of many fascinating points to my noble friend Lord St. Oswald later in the debate.

As I listened to the noble Lord. Lord Shepherd, and the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, many overtones—or they may have been undertones—of the many debates that have taken place in your Lordships' House upon broadcasting came back to me. But I want to make this quite clear. I was the Minister in charge of the '94* Act when it was a Bill in another place; and I am not for a moment standing in a white sheet or retracting the basic ideas on which I framed and advocated that policy. But I think all noble Lords will agree that the important thing at the moment is to be forward-looking, although naturally, rightly, we draw on the experience of the past to help us to correct our mistakes and consolidate our gains. When I consider the immense social force of broadcasting, including, of course television, *1954 See col. 166.

I feel that we could almost—I say almost—take as our text the words that the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, used in the debate to which he referred on "Modern Aids in Education" on November 29. He said, in effect—and I quote his words [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 226 (No. 15), col. 1076]—that he would like to give to the B.B.C., and to any other service which regards itself as primarily a service, every encouragement to go on and help our citizens, young and old alike, to fill their growing leisure not with silly ideals but to more and more advantage by acquiring more and more understanding of the world and their fellow citizens. I used the word "almost" because I cannot go as far as my co-collegian in saying that ideals are silly. I think that ideals are very important, and I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, really had in mind fantasies when he used the words "silly ideals". At any rate, I do not quote and take over that phrase of his. But the efforts of both the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. to supply our needs in sound broadcasting and television, and particularly in television, often come under very hard knocks. I think it is a good thing that, from time to time, the fundamentals of our broadcasting services should be re-examined and the attitudes of our programme providers towards their audiences critically assessed.

It is sometimes asked, "Why do the Government need to appoint a Committee? Why do they not make the decisions themselves?" I do not think anyone who has considered either Government or television would really press that point. It seems to me that there are at least five reasons why a Committee of this sort is a sound step in dealing with the problem. First, the questions involved are immense in number and complexity; secondly, the subject is one in which the public as individuals are very interested, apart from its being a matter of public interest in the other sense; thirdly, it is vital that views should be offered from every quarter; fourthly, a full and detailed collection and evaluation of these views as they come in would be impracticable for Parliament and impossible for Ministers to do; and, fifthly, it is therefore necessary that they should be studied, sifted and reported upon. Nevertheless—and I venture to remind your Lordships of this as I remind myself—although this process will be of immense value, it does not relieve either Parliament or the Government of the ultimate responsibility of making up their own minds on the question.

Now, may I—because I think it is extremely important—remind your Lordships of the terms of reference of the Pilkington Committee? They are: To consider the future of the broadcasting services in the United Kingdom, the dissemination by wire of broadcasting and other programmes, and the possibility of television for public showing; to advise on the services which should in future be provided in the United Kingdom by the B.B.C. and the I.T.A.; to recommend whether additional services should be provided by any other organisation; and to propose what financial and other conditions should apply to the conduct of all these services. These terms of reference are designed to be comprehensive enough to enable the most searching examination to be made of all aspects of sound and television broadcasting. As noble Lords will have observed, the terms of reference ensure the continued existence of both the B.B.C. and the I.T.A., but they are sufficiently wide to allow the Committee to advise on the services which should in future be provided, and also to consider whether any other organisation should be brought into existence.


My Lords, would the noble and learned Viscount permit me to interrupt him? He has made a very important point. Do I gather that, in fact, the Pilkington Committee will not have a discretion to recommend, if they should think it desirable, that one or other of the present services should be discontinued, but that they can recommend only in what form they should continue?


That is so. I thought I made that quite clear. May I repeat the words that I used, so that the noble Lord will be in no doubt about it at all? What I said was that the terms of reference ensure the continued existence of both the B.B.C. and I.T.A., but they are sufficiently wide to allow the Committee to advise on the services which should in future be provided, and also to consider whether any other organisation should be brought into existence. I hope that I have now made the point perfectly clear.


Very clear.


I would remind noble Lords of the words of the 1953 White Paper on Television Policy, in which the Government said of the new Corporation, the I.T.A.: Its methods of working, contracting for programmes, and regulating advertisements would be open to … review. Now I hope your Lordships will bear with me while I indicate what are the questions that these terms really involve, because I think that they make, beyond peradventure, my first point, as to their immense number and complexity. As I said, the Committee are enabled to traverse the whole field of independent television as set up under the Act: the requirements with regard to programmes; advertisements; qualification for and appointment of programme contractors; financial arrangements in regard to contractors—the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, dealt with that, and I wanted just to point out to him that that is, of course, covered; period of contracts; the recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee in another place that contracts should in future be placed by competitive tender; and that rentals should be subject to more frequent review.

Then we come to quite a different set of questions which are also of vital importance—all the general questions to be decided before the new pattern of future broadcasting unfolds itself: whether we should have additional programmes; of what kind; how financed—for example, by advertising, pay-television or by licence fees; whether our new programmes should be on our existing 405-line definition or whether we should go to a higher line definition, such as 625-lines, which is mostly in use on the Continent; when we should introduce colour television; and how much Government control we still need over the hours of television broadcasting, if, indeed, we need it at all. That is a matter for the Committee to recommend, and I do not mean to place any limits on it.

Then—and the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, referred to the importance he attached to this matter—there is also the sound broadcasting field to be covered. The Committee will advise as to the desirability or otherwise of local sound broadcasting and how it should be operated and financed. The terms of reference also cover the question whether we should go ahead with television for public showing—that is, the showing of programmes in cinemas and halls. Thirdly, the relay by wire of broadcasting and other programmes (pay-television, for example) will also be covered. Your Lordships will see that there are a host of interlocking problems here. As I said, I do not think anyone can be in any doubt about the immense scope of these terms of reference.

The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, asked me in the most friendly and reasonable way whether I could say anything about Interim Reports. I certainly can discuss that matter with my right honourable friend the Postmaster-General, but I think that there are two points which the noble Lord should bear in mind. The first is that what Sir Harry Pilkington and his colleagues feel about this question must be a very important aspect; secondly, as the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, said, we want the Committee to have plenty of time and every opportunity to consider what is put before them. So perhaps I may leave it like that. I will not forget the noble Lord's point for one moment; but this is an immense job and we do not want to rush the Committee.


My Lords, if I may be permitted to interrupt, I was not asking for an Interim Report as such. But there are one or two urgent and specific matters to which the Committee could perhaps direct their attention immediately, and provide us with a Report on them.


My Lords, I will certainly, as I say, discuss that. As I said a moment ago, I have tried to give a clear list of these matters; I think the noble Lord will agree that they are interlocking, and I do not want in any way to make the task of the Committee more difficult. Therefore, if I might leave it like that I should be very grateful to the noble Lord.


My Lords, may I put one point to the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor? Surely it is a fact, is it not, that the specific question of the relationship between the Press and the contracting companies has already been referred to the Committee for urgent consideration?


Yes. My noble and learned friend the Lord President mentioned that, and I was just going to refer to it. If the noble Lord looks up the matter, he will find the statement of my noble friend Lord Hail-sham on this point. Again, I think one must take into account what I have just said to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd—that one must allow the Committee to proceed with their task as they feel right. On that point, perhaps your Lordships will allow me not to come back to it. My noble friend Lord Boothby will remember the Royal Commission on the Press, and it would be most helpful if the Government were in a position, when we get the Report of the Royal Commission on the Press, to have the views of the Pilkington Committee. They would obviously be very important from whatever angle we view this matter. May I leave it like that?. I think that I have dealt with the noble Lord's point, and he has heard what I said to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, about the general approach.

My Lords, I am sure that in collecting opinions the members of the Pilkington Committee will read with interest the views expressed by your Lordships to-day. I think that at no time in the history of broadcasting have so many questions been raised involving such considerable social and economic implications for the future. We are all convinced—I am sure that every speech in the House to-day will be directed to this—that broadcasting affects very deeply the life of each one of us; and as we are a varied and, I think I may say, voluble community, it is natural that many conflicting views should be expressed. It is broadly true that the television instrument, being the nearest modern equivalent, taking the world as a whole, of Babel, releases the myriad voices of Babel in views upon it. In my view, discussion of this kind is all to the good, and I am told that many interesting observations and recommendations are being made to the Pilkington Committee. I believe that some 350 papers have already been submitted, and I daresay that that is not the end. But I am sure that the Committee's recommendations will be all the stronger for the discussion this problem has released. I suppose that at the end of the day, some of us, taking the House as a whole, are bound to be disappointed by what comes out of the discussions on this matter. But at least everyone will have had his say; and knowing Sir Harry Pilkington and his colleagues, I am sure that our discussions will be carefully and truly weighed.

Your Lordships will not, I believe, expect the Government to pronounce on a number of the matters raised, or to be raised, to-day. After all, we set up the Pilkington Committee to advise us in this difficult and contentious field, and it is not for us to gaze into the crystal ball and forecast the Committee's considerations or to prejudice the opinions which will flow from them. I think that is only fair. We are all brought up on the old proverb that it is not usually wise to keep a dog and bark yourself; and while I do not for one moment wish that to be taken literally, so far as the Pilkington Committee are concerned, it would obviously be wrong for a Government spokesman to express his views before he has had a chance of seeing the Report which he believes is so necessary. As I said, I wanted to restrict myself to one or two general points.

The noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, has repeated to-day what he said in our debate last November [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol 226, col. 1074]—namely, that television is too powerful a means of influencing the public mind to he left in any way under the control of persons who have any purpose of making wealth through it for themselves. This is a theme which has been continually raised, particularly from the point of view that the commercial motive must permeate any service financed by such means, and that it must follow that it will induce a low level of programme quality. Whether the last is a non sequitur or simply a not very powerful arrangement of the premises is a matter which we shall go on discussing till the end of time. But it has been said again to-day that commercial broadcasting exists to sell goods, and public service broadcasting exists to serve the public; and that only the latter service will provide programmes of high quality and social value. I think that I have put the arguments fairly; at any rate, I have tried to do so.

Let us pause for a moment on that idea of social value. We are a community knitted together with a common history and culture. But broadcasting, belying its technical nature of reaching out to all and sundry, seeks in its content to satisfy the individual, to enrich his life, and to contribute something to the enjoyment of his leisure. I have always been one of those modest people who think that the individual should have some say in deciding what his own taste should be. I have never been able to approach government from the point of view that my own views are so good that they should be foisted on other people, and that other people should not have a chance of making up their own minds and having their own views. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, that we look to the broadcasting authorities to present to us a fair balance of the interests that make up our lives, to inform, to educate and to entertain us in appropriate degrees. I cannot but be shocked if people think that the appropriate degree of entertainment is a high one. I must say that—and be branded as a "lowbrow" for all time in your Lordships' House. But I am sure that, in the end, the broadcaster who meets these requirements will have the real success. And if both the B.B.C. and are governed by those considerations—and when we were examining the Bill of 1954, they were the considerations we desired to achieve by what we inserted in the Act—then, in the end, if not always at present, programmes of high quality will abound.

I should have liked to follow the line that I know is in the mind of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, but which he did not develop to-day: namely, assuming we have two bodies, whether the programmes should not be so arranged that we can have one mental approach on one programme and another mental approach on the other. The B.B.C. have said, as they are perfectly entitled to say, that they arrange their own programmes; but this is a matter well worthy of consideration.

I want to say a word or two about a question which is near to the hearts of many of us in your Lordships' House and which has been mentioned to-day: that is, the effect of programmes on children. There has been a great deal of discussion on this point. I had to consider a cognate point very closely when Home Secretary, and I would suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, that unless he has a personal rule about reading other people's Reports, which I am sure he has not, he ought to refresh his memory on the Weir Report, which dealt with this matter in relation to cinemas some years ago. This is not an easy subject. I am sure that cases of the influence of programmes on children could be found, but how general they are I have always found it difficult to ascertain.

We are all far too ready, in the second half of the twentieth century, to blame faults on external influences. It may sound paradoxical, but it is true, that we are armed against, and also benefit from, the various influences that surround us. We have the touchstone of our own lives and of the lives of those near us with which to judge what we hear and see. Broadcasting is not the only medium of communication. Your Lordships have pressed the point that children are not sufficiently armed in this way and that there is a heavy responsibility resting on the broadcasting authorities, particularly in regard to programmes at a time when many children are still viewing. I think that the broadcasting authorities would be the last to deny that responsibility and I am sure that they will take due note of your Lordships' views.

I am not going into a matter which will take us off the general line by discussing the O'Conor Report, but my right honourable friend the Postmaster General tells me that the broadcasting authorities have told him that they would have regard to the nature of the audience likely to be viewing up to 9 o'clock. The point I want to make is that, in this connection, we must remember that broadcasters have acknowledged their share of responsibility, but we must also rely on the home influence if we are going to do any good in this approach to the problem. The Report of the Committee on Children and Young Persons said the other day: The primary responsibility for bringing up children is parental and it is essentially a positive responsibility. The paragraph in the Report goes on to stress the duty of the community to help, but I think we should beware of any extreme view that children should be brought up in some vacuum of existence, knowing nothing of the dangers and troubles that will surround them in the adult world. I know that this can be answered at once by saying, "Does that mean that you want them to see something approximating to an "X" film?" Of course, I do not; but, on the other hand, I have always thought that there is a great deal to be said for Gilbert Chesterton's analysis of fairy tales: that they have the effect of making children prepared for life, ready to face the difficulties and dangers that may come their way. I think we must try to get a balance, but we must not be ready to move from what is obviously dislikeable into the sort of vacuum that I have described.

I could go on to mention the various safeguards that exist to-day, but I want to make only this general point. I ask your Lordships to beware of setting up a prolixity of advisory and mandatory committees to deal with this matter by itself, instead of creating bodies which will deal responsibly with their own programmes. There are a number of these committees and they do useful work, but I think we should be on dangerous ground—and the Parliamentary ground is almost unthinkable—if we were going to have Questions every day on the content of programmes, on every piece of broadcasting that is done. We should take the heart out of whatever instrument we choose or want for the purpose and I think it would be a very retrograde step.

I was going to deal with the question of the Press and television, but my noble friend Lord Boothby brought it on earlier. This is obviously a matter which will be considered, and my noble friend has in mind the letter that was sent on that point. Therefore, I do not want to occupy time on that subject.

My Lords, I think we are all agreed that, in view of the considerable influence and impact that broadcasting wields, we must be sure that it is directed towards ends of benefit to the community as a whole. I have sought to indicate the general approach which is held by the Government towards the problems and the future of sound and television broadcasts. Clearly, the central point at the moment is the Pilkington Committee, and the range of issues which are in course of consideration by them. We may be quite certain (I gathered from the noble Lords, Lord Shepherd and Lord Beveridge, that they thought we could be reasonably certain; I think we can be absolutely certain), that all these aspects will receive a complete re-examination by the Committee, under its distinguished Chairman. In these circumstances, I am sure your Lordships would think it wrong of me to continue to-day to enlarge on the future policy or the lines of development. If I were to do so, I should be discounting the very purpose for which the Pilkington Committee were appointed—namely, to provide independent advice on which that future policy can be wisely determined.

I assure your Lordships of this: that when we receive the Report it will be fully and frankly considered, and we shall do our utmost to come to a wise decision on what is put before us.


May I ask my noble friend—the noble friend of every one of us in this House—one question arising directly from what he has told us about the terms of reference of the Pilkington Committee? He has made clear what I did not realise before: that they cannot establish a monopoly but must recognise both the I.T.A. and the B.B.C. Have they or have they not the power to propose that the I.T.A. might get some money otherwise than from advertisements—in other words, by some form of licence? If he has not the answer to that question ready to hand, naturally I shall be glad to wait for it; but I should like to have an answer as to whether their terms of reference permit them to propose that the I.T.A. should be able to get money otherwise than from their present source.


My Lords, the terms of reference, apart from that one point, could not be much wider, because (if I might just remind my noble friend) they are: …to advise on the services which should in future be provided in the United Kingdom by the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. That is really, first, what they should do. Secondly: to recommend whether additional services should be provided by any other organisation. And thirdly: to propose what financial and other conditions should apply to the conduct of all these services. So far as I know, there is no restriction on the generality of that last provision. If by any chance I am wrong (I do not think it is likely), I will, of course, communicate with the noble Lord and the House at the earliest possible moment. That is completely at large.


I am deeply grateful, as I am sure we all are, to the Lord Chancellor.

4.4 p.m.


My Lords, it has been said three times to-day that, with this long list of speakers, we ought not to be too long with our speeches. We started early and we are getting rather behind. Therefore I propose to be quite brief. First may I say, on behalf of my colleagues, how grateful we are to my noble friend Lord Shepherd for introducing this Motion, and particularly for the research he gave to the matter before he spoke and for the way in which he produced for us a survey which was comprehensive and upon which things had to be said. The noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack thought that some of us would be disappointed, and I must confess right away that I certainly am. I have been searching my mind to see whether I could discover why I should suffer such disappointment. I thought that with all the Lord Chancellor's knowledge of the matter my noble friend would have received a more adequate reply on the very detailed points which he put. But I think I have found the apologia for the noble and learned Viscount: that is, that his instruction or his desire is that, in view of the sittings of the Pilkington Committee, everything must be regarded as almost sub judice until that Committee has reported. I think that is a pity.


My Lords, would the noble Viscount permit me to interrupt? I want to make this clear I think it is sub judice, so far as the Government who appoint the Committee are concerned. You cannot appoint a Committee and then proceed to do their job yourself. I want to make it clear, however, that I think it would be most helpful to the Committee if those not in the Government, and therefore not prejudicing its work, should express their views. I hope the noble Viscount will, because I think it will be most helpful to the Committee.


I am obliged. On the other hand, if I may say so to the noble and learned Viscount, who always tries to serve the House so faithfully, he spent a great deal of time this afternoon expounding the terms of reference of the Pilkington Committee. I waited to see what else I could pick up, and about the only other thing of substance that I thought he said was something that I intended to raise; that is, the position with regard to "X" films shown under conditions in the cinema Which are supposed to be confined to persons over the age of 16, and such films being released for broadcasting on television. There have been brought to my notice when I have been on the Bench two films especially that are examples of what goes on. There is the film called "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning", clearly an "X" film, with all kinds of bedroom scenes and undesirable influences, Which was circulated for broadcasting; and another film called "The Cosh Boy", dealing with all sorts of thuggery. I gather from the speech of the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack that there is nothing much that can be done about this until the Pilkington Committee, who will no doubt consider it, make their recommendations. At any rate, we can express our own moral view about it.

I feel certain that, so far as the administration of the cinema industry is concerned, it tries to protect the children under 16 and makes a careful selection of films that are classified as "X" films. In consequence, many fewer children are likely to see those films. But if there is no actual restriction on the circulation of these films through either one of the broadcasting instruments in television, then surely the danger to the child life of the country is very much greater. Whilst we welcome the fact that the Lord Chancellor said that he would be very much against these "X" films being constantly brought within the view of children, I thought he hedged a little about the general principle of circulating them for broadcasting. For my part, I do not think that I or any other citizen would suffer, in any case, if you prohibited the circulation for broadcasting in the homes films which are no higher than the "X" standard; and if any citizen then wanted to see them, he could go to the cinema Ito do so. Surely we ought to protect the child life of the country.

There is the other thing that we are especially keen about in this debate to-day, and that is to go back in our minds to the Report and debates in 1954 on the Television Bill. I am bound to say that the circumstances which operate to-day, and which have been revealed by my noble friend so ably in his opening speech, are the kind of things that were forecast. When the noble and learned Viscount presses upon us that everything is likely to be very much improved because of such a wide examination of all the circumstances by the Pilkington Committee, then we have to remember what the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, said to us just now about the Committee of which he was Chairman. That Committee had eleven members, ten of whom took the majority view and one member, a Minister, was in the minority, and it was the minority view which became the operative factor. What sort of thing, therefore, can we expect from the Pilkington Committee? I am sure that every one of them will do his or her duty in this matter. What can we expect from the Government? Those who take strong moral views about the effect of the changes which were made by the Government in the 1954 Statute feel—if I may quote words that were used just now—that those changes have taken the moral heart out of much of the previous broadcasting arrangements, just as we would say, from a political point of view, that the Government took the heart out of transport when they helped to destroy the true foundations of publicly-owned transport. They have done that with regard to broadcasting, and that is a very great pity indeed.

I thought that the three moral points that were made at the end of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, were something that I should like to come back to and look at more carefully in print, because they made a very favourable impression upon me. I should like, perhaps on some future occasion, to say more about them, but I do not want to delay the House to any extent to-day. But I will say this to the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge. He spoke about the desirability (I am sure he is right in principle) of having a properly organised complaints department in the case of public television and public sound broadcasting. If I have had a point to raise with the British Broadcasting Corporation I have never had any difficulty in getting it properly considered; and I suppose any citizen, if he wrote to the Director General of the British Broadcasting Corporation, would have it referred at once by the Director General to the proper department for inquiry. I feel certain that that is so. I hope the same thing applies in regard to the I.T.A., because if they were under a Charter based on a Statute, it would be quite intolerable if the citizenship of the country could not get the same attention.

If there are criticisms to be made, I suggest that it is always best if Members in either House of Parliament state them in public. However, even that sometimes must be done with discretion, and I want to be discreet this afternoon. Certainly there is a feeling in the minds of many people as they watch the programmes that a better atmosphere could be provided in dealing, not with entertainment, but with some of the political, historical and current affairs in the world. I hinted the other day that the public I met in my limited circle, who talk about these matters and who watch television, as I do, perhaps only two or three nights a week, because otherwise I am on public duty, feel that there is a growing tendency for pressure upon public opinion and the formation of public opinion which has now become described as "Trial by television". It is even introduced on the sound broadcasting and could be very nearly in the nature of a trial.

I felt it was shocking the other night, when I looked at television at home and saw a film in which a Conservative and a Labour Member of Parliament conducted a cross-examination of witnesses—including a Belgian journalist who had been over here only two or three weeks before on a different matter—about the action of the British Trades Union Congress in lending some money to the Belgian trade unionists. The Belgian journalist and other people were under cross-examination, and the questioners were getting quite inadequate answers from any of them. They were almost a bullying set of questions, and there was a pronouncement from whoever happened to be the chairman.

I am not too happy at all, as I have often been unhappy, about some of the rather pompous arrangements made by "Panorama" for inquiry into public matters, and the way a judgment is "summed up" in what is supposed to be a neutral way, but which leaves a certain impression. Whatever we do about programmes, I feel certain that this modern method of the diffusion of thought, of the provision of education and the forming of opinion on great issues in men's minds, which is capable of being used as propaganda by one country against the other, is something to which we must pay extraordinary attention.

I used to feel the burden of this particularly in the early days of the last war. In those days nobody who was in charge of a Government Department of great importance (whether it was a Service Department, the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Information or the kind of Department over which my noble friend Lord Dalton presided) could be unaware of the vast importance in the formation of opinion in the human mind which broadcasting had become, with its capacity to delve into the social, political, religious and international spheres.

May I say that I have often felt proud, since then, in considering what is the value of having broadcasting in the hands of a public service. I used to listen to William Joyce, and hear his terrible attempts to browbeat the world; and then I would hear every night, from the British public service, the words "This is London". As one who has travelled since—and I am sure my colleagues on the other side of the House will say the same thing—and talked to people overseas as to what was their impression of "This is London", I found that it was a constant building up of a moral faith in which a nation was fighting for freedom, moral witness, and the hope of a better future.

I want particularly to stress the point made by my noble friend Lord Shepherd, and mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge; that these things are so vastly important that they should be public services, and should be in the hands of people (and this was specially stressed by the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge) who are working only because they want to render a public service. I know that that principle has to be varied to some extent, in that it is necessary to provide entertainment plus these other things. But I hope that the Government, when they get the Pilkington Committee Report, will take just these few things I have ben saying into mind and act upon them.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Viscount a question? Does not what he is now saying really mean this: that the expression of opinion through any widely distributed medium may have such an effect that it must be controlled in some way, either by a public authority or by the Government? What I should like him to develop is this: if that thesis is correct, does it not mean that the same form of control must be applied to great newspapers as would he applied to the programme "Panorama", on the B.B.C., and its equivalent on Independent Television?


My Lords, so far as the newspapers are concerned, I think the freedom of expression of opinion through a privately owned newspaper—not a Government newspaper—is essential in any free society. But what are we getting now? What we are getting now, at any rate with the I.T.V., is the expression of opinion of something which is set up by Statute, a so-called public corporation to govern them and guide them. Certainly the I.T.V. work under the 1954 Statute, but when it comes to the actual administration, what do you find? At the present time, you find that if you want to get a real expression of opinion, whether it is on the I.T.V. or B.B.C., you are very often prevented from getting it. I have said that I do not want to go into these matters to-day. The time will come when I shall. I can give many illustrations. There is certainly feeling in the mind of the public at any rate, even in regard to entertainment, that there are limits to the extent of the circles through which play is made to provide the entertainment. As a result, while some people do very well out of it, others do not do quite so well. I said that I should be short, and I must keep my word. I will leave anything else I have to say, perhaps to the time when we come to the Report of the Pilkington Committee. I hope that by then we shall have had more guidance from the Government than we have been able to get this afternoon in this debate.

4.24 p.m.


My Lords, I should like first of all to express my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, for introducing this Motion, and to say to him that in very large degree I agree with what he said. But there was one point he made, I think he made it more than once, which surprised me a little. It may be that I have read his emphasis wrongly; I hope I have—probably I have. He said that he regarded broadcasting as something more than mere entertainment. I would suggest that, while of course entertainment is important, and entertainment, in both sound and television to-day, takes considerable amount of broadcasting time, at the same time we sometimes forget the enormous impact that the more informative broadcasts are having on the public at large to-day. When I say that, I refer not merely to the highbrow programmes, in the Third Programme or elsewhere but quite little pieces of information which are slipped into lighter programmes and which together are having a profound effect on the general thinking of the public and on the knowledge that the general public have to-day, knowledge they would not get in any other way; because while they could perhaps get it by reading, they will not bring themselves to do the amount of reading that would be necessary.

I believe that is perhaps particularly true of sound broadcasting. The talk to-day is entirely about television. It is an expanding service; it is exciting and so on. But I think we sometimes forget the enormous impact that sound broadcasting is still having. I would go further and say that I believe the impact on thought today is more from sound broadcasting than from television. I want to develop the consequences of that and to say that, if that is so, if I am right about sound broadcasting, then I sincerely hope that when the Pilkington Committee come to report they will not recommend anything that will do other than preserve what the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, described as balanced programmes. That, I think, is immensely important.

The balanced programme can be arrived at only as a result of right organisation, and that the B.B.C. has now. Perhaps I could therefore say a word about organisation, and in particular about the size of the Corporation. Of course, when the I.T.A. was set up the monopoly in television was broken, but the monopoly in sound continues. I think that to use the word "monopoly" is wrong, because in this context it is not in any way apt. The fact is that the Corporation, with its so-called monopoly of sound, operates to-day in such a way that there has to be delegated to a vast number of independent producers a considerable degree of discretion. They work, of course, within the general policy of the B.B.C. as laid down by the Board of Governors, but there is certainly no monopoly in such matters as thought or expression. Therefore, I hope that this idea of monopoly as one might apply it to industry or other things will not be used too often in relation to a broadcasting organisation of the complexity of the B.B.C.

Nevertheless the fact remains that the Corporation is an enormous body. It therefore stands to be shot at; it is like an Aunt Sally. The question we therefore have to ask ourselves is, is it too big? My experience, gained from the five years when I had the privilege of serving as a Governor of the B.B.C., is that a great number of the services provided by the B.B.C. to-day would not be possible unless the Corporation were as big as it at present is. I should like to give one or two examples of what I mean by that. First of all, there may be criticisms with regard to the national services, the Scottish, Welsh, Northern Ireland services and the regions. The Scottish listeners may say there is not enough of their own Scottish material and the Welsh may say the same. That is obviously a matter of opinion. But what I may call regional broadcasts could not possibly be as developed as they are now unless they could draw very considerably on the national network. And, by the same token, the national network gains enormously from the many programmes that are conceived and put on from the regions. There again, that is to my mind an argument in favour of something like its present size of structure.

I should like to give one or two other examples of that. Take the case of music. The Report we are considering to-day says that the B.B.C. is the foremost music provider in the country. Undoubtedly that is true, and undoubtedly as a result of the work of the Corporation over the years we are far more music conscious and music loving as a country than we should otherwise have been. I am certain that if the Corporation had not had the resources it has had, and has now, it could never have produced, built up and maintained the various orchestras, both regional and national, which we all know. I am thinking particularly of the B.B.C. Symphony Orchestra, which is regarded as an orchestra of international repute. One has only to think of some of the problems, particularly the financial problems, that other orchestras of which we know have faced—they have had great difficulty in keeping their heads above water—to realise what the B.B.C. has done for the country in that respect.

Let me look at another way in which size is important. There is the question of research and design. A great deal is said in the Report about the engineering side of the Corporation's work. I am quite certain that much of the work that has, in fact, been done by the Corporation either would not have been done at all, by anyone, or would not have been done in the same time and with the same enthusiasm. It certainly would not have been done by the radio industry, because there was no reason for them to do it. On the other hand, the B.B.C. had a compelling reason to do much of this work. They are the broadcasters. They wanted to achieve a certain result, and they went out of their way to find out how it could be done.

What is the result? The result is that they have developed on all wavebands new methods of transmission; new aerial systems; they have done a tremendous amount of work in regard to acoustics and television, including colour; and a great many other scientific devices and developments have been produced by the B.B.C. We see the result of that not only in the technical excellence (I am not talking at the moment of the programmes) of our broadcasting at home hut, perhaps even more important, in their most profound influence on broadcasting systems in a great number of other countries throughout the world. In fact, as the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd has already said, had it not been for the progress that the B.B.C. had made, both in technical matters and in training, I do not think the I.T.A. could possibly have got off to the excellent start that it did. That is not in any way to derogate the achievements of the I.T.A., but I think they themselves would agree with that view. Let us look for a moment at the news service. We turn on our radio sets and we listen to the news. We take it for granted. But that comes about only as the result of an enormous organisation, both at home and overseas, and as a result of the most meticulous planning. And the B.B.C. News has, of course, achieved world-wide recognition, both for its trustworthiness and its impartiality.

That leads me, very briefly, to say just a word about the external services. I do not want to say much about these because I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Strang, is to concentrate on that particular aspect. But I must say that this is one aspect of the Report which rather disturbs me. When one sees the increase in broadcasting from such countries as Russia and China, and also from other countries behind the Iron Curtain, and then sees either that our own external services are diminishing or, where they are allowed to increase, that it is only, for financial reasons, at the expense of something else, it seems to me to be a great misfortune, considering the repute enjoyed (to which the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough referred) by our external services throughout the world.

To come back to my main point on sound, and relating it to the external services, we must remember that the quality of our external services, the welcome they may receive from overseas, will be dependent largely on the strength and the quality of the internal broadcasting services in this country. To my mind, that is another reason why we should look extremely carefully at anything that we might do to interfere with our present organisation at home. It seems to me, for that sort of reason, that we should be most careful, when, in a year or two, the Pilkington Committee Report is to hand, about diminishing the size of the Corporation and its present structure.

But there is one point on which I rather agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd. Perhaps we should be right in saying that we should not have to wait for that Report in regard to the question of colour television. Already, in agreement with the Technical Advisory Committee and the Post Office, the B.B.C. have spent a considerable amount of money on developing colour television. So I should have thought it would be perfectly proper for the Government to allow the B.B.C. now to go ahead, as they have said they can, with a modest television service in colour on Bands I or III, and of 405 lines. I do not see that, technically, it could possibly prejudice anything the Pilkington Committee may ultimately decide, either in connection with a different number of lines or the other band.

If we do not do that, my Lords, we shall, as it were, lose our place in the queue. We were the first country to have a television service. We have done an enormous amount in regard to the development of colour television. But to-day the United States has colour television; Russia has it; Japan has it. And unless we can go ahead and keep our hand in, both in research and in other ways, we shall and ourselves right at the back of the queue. In view of what has been done in the past, I think that that would be a great misfortune and most discouraging to those who have put such a tremendous amount of successful research work into this subject.

I was going to say something about finance and the point of the licence. But the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, did that so thoroughly, comparing the net receipts of the B.B.C. from the licence fee to the figures for licences in Europe, and comparing it with the revenue of the Independent Television Authority, that I will not say any more on that except to underline the points that he made.

I should like to conclude by saying that I was glad to read in the B.B.C. Report their welcome of the appointment of the Pilkington Committee. I am delighted that Sir Harry Pilkington, whom I know personally, has been appointed to this task. I am quite certain that when the Report comes along it will be an extremely penetrating analysis of the situation, and that such proposals as the Committee may make will he far-seeing. That is no more than one can expect from a Committee led by Sir Harry Pilkington, and certainly no less than the broadcasting staffs, with all their enthusiasm to do the best they can, deserve. I shall welcome the Report, and again I should like to say to the noble Lord how grateful I am to him for having introduced this Motion.

4.40 p.m.


My Lords, the excellent speech of the noble Lord who has preceded me has enabled me to curtail much of what I wanted to say. What he said is based on very wide experience of the B.B.C., through his connection with the Corporation, and I can thoroughly agree with all he has said, and more particularly with what he said about monopoly. This is a word which has long been applied in his realm, but one might as well call Her Majesty's Government a monopoly and suggest that they should operate from Monday to Friday and that Her Majesty's Opposition should take over on Saturday and Sunday.

I hope that a great deal of what the noble Lord said about colour television will be noted by the Government. It would be of great help if the decision which, I understand, was recently given on colour television, namely, to the effect that nothing could be done about it until the Pilkington Committee had reported, could be reviewed. The noble Lord who introduced this Motion made what I thought was an admirable speech, full of most interesting information, a great deal of which was quite news to me, more particularly on the financial gains which were made by television companies over recent years. If those figures are correct—and I have no doubt they are—one could caricature a well-known saying, on looking back ten years, by saying: Never in the field of human industry was so much won from so many by so few. The noble and learned Viscount has told us that he does not appear here in a white sheet. I recognise the fact that it is only we Bishops who wear white here; nevertheless I hope his sombre clothing, if it does not reflect penitence, does in any case reflect a sense of mourning for the part he played in the Act of 1954; because that is really the root of our present troubles. I am grateful to him for the information he has given us and the closer definition he has supplied of the duties and obligations of the Pilkington Committee. I believe all of us welcomed the appointment of that Committee, and that requires no defence. But, if I may say so again, we hope that if the recommendations of the Committee are wise (and always with that qualification) Her Majesty's Government will take more heed of them than the Government took of the Report of the Beveridge Committee.

The noble and learned Viscount has said it is wrong to keep a dog and bark oneself but the Government appointed a Committee of very thoroughbred dogs to bark at that time and, the dogs having barked, the Government out-barked them all, by making a complete change in the recommendations which were submitted to them. I hope, therefore, that when the Pilkington Committee report, sectional interests will not be allowed to override the recommendations of that influential Committee. When I first heard of this debate I wondered whether it was wise or kind to hold it at a time like this when the Pilkington Committee were sitting. But I notice that almost every conceivable body in the Kingdom is submitting a report to the Committee, and the noble and learned Viscount himself has said that they have had to peruse something like 360. So I have now changed my mind, for I feel that if they have had to peruse 360 reports they might as well peruse 361; and the perusal of this debate no doubt will supply them with illumination and, I hope, guidance.

The field is so broad and the issue so complicated and complex that it is very difficult, as I believe has been found, to descend to details and particulars. I wish briefly to make just three points. The first is on external services, although I understand the noble Lord, Lord Strang, will deal with that subject—and he, of course, is far more competent than perhaps any of us to do so. During and after the war the B.B.C. built up and has continued to build up overseas a prestige which is quite remarkable. That is a great national asset; and that Her Majesty's Government should reduce the allocation for the external services of the B.B.C. for the years 1960–61 was, I feel, regrettable. At the same time the Government urge us to increase our exports to the maximum. What more valuable export can there be than the export which the external services of the B.B.C. represent in creating goodwill and understanding among the nations?

Secondly, the question I believe most of us are primarily interested in is that of quality—quality in the programmes of the B.B.C. and of the I.T.A. Of course, everyone wants fun and entertainment. We do not wish the programmes to be remotely highbrow or confined to moral exhortations. Far from it! Someone has expressed the aim and the object of the whole exercise as being to make good things popular and popular things good. That seems to me a very wise ideal at which to aim. But how do we stand when we come to the question of quality? Is quality getting better or is it not? Here I believe it is very difficult to judge, for although many statistics in this matter are provided for us, one recognises that many of those statistics are in some sense subjective; because one has to determine whether a particular programme or item is serious or not, and people will differ upon that.

Nevertheless, I believe this, broadly is true: the I.T.A. record in their Report that programmes which appeal to, and make some demand on, the viewer's intelligence represented 25 per cent. of the total they produced. But although that figure may well be perfectly correct, I would submit that what is really important is the amount of quality programmes which are shown at peak hours; that is, between seven o'clock and half past ten. During that time, I am assured, the commercial television percentage is 10 to 13. At peak hours they produced that percentage of programmes appealing to the serious viewer. The B.B.C. at peak hours produce 34 per cent. of such programmes. There is a very big difference between those two figures, and I should imagine that it is very difficult for the B.B.C. to keep up the quality they would wish while they are in competition with an organisation which must necessarily appeal to the widest possible mass audience. In a certain sense, the B.B.C. are bound to compete; that is, if they are to remain a national broadcasting authority. This competition really works against quality; and sooner or later the chances are that there will be a calamitous decline in the quality which both produce. I therefore hope that a careful watch will be kept on these figures so as to prevent any landslide.

Thirdly, and lastly, there is the question of the frequencies in Band III. I understand that the B.B.C.'s policy on this matter—and I hope that the majority of your Lordships may endorse it—is this. There are at present 750,000 people, mostly in Scotland and in Wales, who are out of reach of television. They are, for the most part, crofters and people in lonely places, people who justice would suggest ought certainly to have the privileges and advantages of television if they want it. The B.B.C. are clear that if they are given the frequencies of Band III their first desire will be to see that there is a total coverage. And, after, all, is it not only fair that those 750,000 people should see television, rather than that you and I, who are not in remote places, should have three channels to look at instead of two? That seems common justice.

If, however, Her Majesty's Government and the Pilkington Committee Report decide that that is impossible, then I should hope, as a second alternative, that the frequencies in Band III would be given to the B.B.C. for use as a second channel. It would enable the B.B.C. to increase the serious and cultural programmes, and programmes of information; it would enable them more adequately to meet regional needs, and also educational needs. If the B.B.C. are to carry out their Charter—that is to educate, to inform and to entertain—I think that their past record and their present needs justify their request for that third channel.

It has been said, or suggested, in many quarters that another non-commercial authority should be set up to deal with the Band III frequency. I believe that that would be a pity and would be wrong policy. It has also been suggested that such a band might be used for some specialised purpose, such as educational programmes or a programme which would particularly appeal to young people. Those proposals are, at first sight, very attractive; but there are a number of technical and other arguments which, to my mind, rule them out of court. First of all (and this is quite important, it seems to me), it means creating a specialised channel for young people. Yes. But there is only one T.V. set in the house; and, when father and mother come in, will they be willing to look at what the young people want—if the young people want it? But there is the further question of whether the young people would want to listen to something designed particularly for young people. It seems to me much more natural that they would want to look at what they regarded as a normal adult programme. Soon, such specialised programmes would be regarded as highbrow, and standards would undoubtedly decline. Therefore, I very much hope that the frequencies in Band III will be given to the B.B.C., in the first instance for complete coverage, but, if not, then to enable them to expand and develop the television programmes thus allowing them to give better quality than they can do at present.

4.54 p.m.


My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, has indicated, I am not going to address your Lordships with an eye to the Pilkington Committee. The B.B.C.'s external services, which I propose to deal with, are not within the terms of reference of that Committee. It is four years since the external services were debated in this House, and it is time that they were ventilated again. Since then their importance has not decreased; indeed, it has very much increased. The struggle for the minds of men has grown in intensity in recent years. The Communist objective has been clearly defined in the statement issued by the 81 Communist Parties at the end of last year. I need not quote their definition of "peaceful co-existence". This has been fully brought to your Lordships' attention in recent weeks, both by the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary and by the Lord President of the Council. But the upshot is that the cold war is being carried on, and will be carried on, unrelentingly, by every possible means short of war, though armed force will be there in the background.

This struggle for the minds of men is now being waged not only by the Soviet Union and European Communist States, but by China also. So far as the Soviet Union is concerned, Khrushchev is more dangerous in this field that Stalin was. He has command of greater power, greater military power; he has a much wider field of action among the newly independent ex-colonial territories and the still emerging dependent territories. Unlike Stalin, he ranges widely over the world by personal initiative, by diplomatic and subversive action in a flexible and realistic way. Then again, the nuclear equipoise gives him wider freedom of manœuvre short of major war. He can take risks on a world-wide scale which Stalin would have hesitated to run. He can be confident in Russia's strength, and need not be obsessed by the fear of isolation or fear of capitalist attack.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the National Planning Association in Washington, which is a voluntary body of planners and thinkers, recently came to the following grim conclusion—and I will quote it, if I may: It is the conviction of this Committee that the very survival of the United States as a free and independent nation is threatened as never before. This, in our view, is the bitter truth, which should be far more widely understood than it is to-day. That opinion was endorsed by Mr. Herter, the outgoing Secretary of State, in his farewell report before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives. And President Kennedy has said nothing to contradict it, I think, in the statements which he has made since his inauguration. My Lords, the intensification of this battle for the minds of men is clearly illustrated by the striking expansion of Communist broadcasting services addressed to foreign countries.

I should like, if I may, to give a few simple figures. These figures fully confirm what the noble Viscount, Lord Rochdale, has already said. In 1946 the Soviet Union put out foreign language broadcasts for a total of 284 hours a week; in 1950 for 533 hours; in 1960 for 1,002 hours. The move has been from 284 to 533, and then to 1,002 hours. The European satellites show a similar increase to a total of 1,094 hours a week in 1960. In China the foreign language broadcasts have grown from 66 hours a week in 1950 to 724 hours in 1960. These Communist broadcasts are world-wide. China broadcasts not only to the Far East and South-East Asia, but also to Europe, to the Middle East, to North and South America, to Africa and to the Pacific.

Let us compare the figures for the B.B.C.'s external services, in English and in foreign languages. In 1946, the B.B.C. broadcast for 714 hours a week; in 1950 for 643 hours; in 1960 for 589 hours. There has thus been a small but continuous reduction, a "nibbling away" of the services; a reduction of about 8 per cent. between 1946 and 1950, and a further 8 per cent. between 1950 and 1960. The figures for the B.B.C. are about one-half of those of the Soviet Union; about one-half of those of the satellites; and they are less than those of China.


I wonder whether the noble Lord has any figures showing the time used by the United States in broadcasting to the Soviet Union.


The noble Lord is asking for the figures for "The Voice of America"?




The figures for "The Voice of America" are: 1946, 520 hours; 1950, 497 hours; 1960, 602 hours. Now, my Lords, lot us look rather more closely at some of the comparative consequences of this situation. Between 1950 and 1960, the B.B.C. reduced output to the Far East and India from 133 hours to 89. In the same period, the Soviet Union expanded theirs from 91 to 200. In Bengali, the Russians now broadcast for 17½ hours a week, compared with the B.B.C.'s 1½ hours. In Hindi, Moscow and Peking put out more than five times as much as the B.B.C.; and a similar picture can be painted of Latin-America and Africa.

I am far from saying that the audience for Communist broadcasts bears the same proportion to the B.B.C. audience as the number of hours devoted respectively to the programmes. It is a most difficult matter to assess the number of listeners to foreign-language broadcasts, whether our own or those of other people. And it is fair to say that, thanks to their unrivalled prestige and reputation for truth and objectivity, to which the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Manchester has rightly referred, the B.B.C. can probably attract the same number of listeners as the Communists do with a much smaller number of hours. For example, there is some reason to think that, with their very small output, the B.B.C. have still a somewhat larger audience in France than the Communists have; and the same may perhaps be true of Greece. In Finland, there are about a quarter of a million regular listeners. Behind the Iron Curtain, in spite of jamming, there are substantial audiences in Poland, in Czechoslovakia, in Roumania and even in the Soviet Union itself. That, I think, is particularly true of the services in English, which are not, I believe, jammed.

Here are some examples. In their Annual Report, the B.B.C. quote a Soviet engineer as saying: I listen to the B.B.C. every evening to improve my English. Very objective news they send and they are often more quickly informed about events in Moscow than the Soviet State Radio. A listener in Eastern Germany recently wrote: We are all in a vast prison, and therefore we need London radio, so that we can hear something of the world, of a world of freedom, of humanity". A mother in Eastern Germany reported that her children had been listening to the B.B.C. in secret. She said: The radio set is, for these growing children, almost the only means of getting a glimpse into another world. Now, my Lords, there is an important point here. There is no evidence, so I am told, that the Communists are governed in their broadcasting policy by the returns of audience research. They seem to believe that if they go on plugging away at an increasing rate, in time the audience will come. It is, they believe, the best way to get at the minds of people behind the backs of their Governments: a precious opportunity, an opportunity not to be missed, but one to be exploited to the utmost degree possible. For, indeed, my Lords, it is an opportunity. The essential fact to notice is that there is now taking place a vast expansion in the potential audience for external broadcast services. Sound radio sets are steadily increasing in numbers. In Asia and Africa, the growth in ownership of radio sets has recently been spectacular. It is estimated that there are now about 300 million radio sets in the world. It is evident from the figures of output which I have given that the Communists have correctly diagnosed this situation, and have seized the opportunity which it opens up to them.

Compared with this, our own cheeseparing attitude, our policy of robbing Peter to pay Paul, our reduction of services in order to meet rising administrative and labour costs, seems to me to mark a failure to recognise both the need which the present world situation presents and the opportunity which it offers. Year after year, for the last ten years or so, there have been cuts in the services of the B.B.C. in order to meet rising costs. In the forthcoming financial year, I believe—I may have been misinformed, but I believe—there is a prospect that this process will be halted. Is it too much to hope that, for once, existing services will be maintained? Can we even hope for some modest extension? Will rising costs, for once, not be allowed to eat away the services? If so, that would be something, but it would not be nearly enough.

In the light of the situation as I have described it, I should like to put some questions to the noble Lord who will reply, of which I have given him notice. My questions are as follows. First, do the Government recognise the growing importance of external broadcasting, and will they now seriously review the position and see whether they can adopt a more vigorous policy than in the past, and one better suited to the times in which we live? In the year 1959–60, the B.B.C. external services cost the Exchequer by way of grant in aid less than £6¾ million. They could be substantially expanded at relatively moderate cost. I know that the argument is one that is usually brushed aside, but the contrast between this modest figure of £6¾ million and the large sums which the Government seem to be so ready to spend upon defence projects of uncertain value is a striking one. Can it truly be said that this is the correct proportion?

Second, in particular, will the Government consider extending to Africa and to South and South-East Asia, and perhaps to Latin America, the successful expansion which they have already approved and brought into effect for the Arabic Service? Third, will the Government consider whether they can restore the services, which have been either suppressed or much reduced, in languages like Afrikaans, Cypriot, Dutch, Flemish and Norwegian—and, indeed, French and Italian? Fourth, will the Government, as the Drogheda Committee recommended as long as ten years ago, see to it that the B.B.C.'s technical installations are kept up to modern standards? Here, something has been done, but not `nearly enough. In particular, there is an urgent need for the provision of relay bases if the message of London is to penetrate to the millions of wireless sets which are waiting for it.

Let me say, in conclusion, that this matter of external broadcasting is one which is closely bound up with our foreign policy. We are, I submit, neglecting one of the most useful weapons in our armoury at a time when we cannot afford not to make the greatest use possible of whatever resources we possess, and when there is a crying need and an unexampled opportunity for us to use it. As a civil servant of long years' service, I think I can foresee the kind of answer which the noble Lord will probably give to my four questions; but perhaps I am too sceptical. But what I would beg him to do is to bring the situation as I have described it to the attention of the three Secretaries of State who are responsible for policy in this sphere; that is to say, the Foreign Secretary, the Colonial Secretary, and the Commonwealth Relations Secretary. This, I earnestly submit, is a matter which deserves the fullest consideration by Ministers.

5.11 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Strang, has just made a powerful impact on the House and I hope on the Government, but he will forgive me if I do not follow him along his particular line. But certainly those who sit on these Benches sympathise very much with the noble Lord and feel that what he has said will call for a very convincing answer. I am glad that he is not there to, so to speak, draft the answer. I remember serving with the noble Lord in the Foreign Office, where nominally he was under me; but actually he will be shocked if I tell him that I was in fact under him. In any event, we are all agreed that he has made a powerful speech this afternoon. I feel that all present will admire the oration with which the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, initiated this debate. He produced some very telling, and what perhaps may be called damaging, figures, and they will also need a great deal of answering. I would echo the moral stand which was adopted by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, and the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough.

For myself, I should like to attempt some kind of comparison rather on the lines, in some respects, of the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Manchester, which aroused so much esteem here. I am not a television star on the pattern of the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, or of the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, or of other noble Lords and Ladies. I have appeared in the last year I think eleven times on television: seven times on I.T.A., three times on the B.B.C., and on one occasion I was visited by some gentlemen who might have belonged to either Corporation—I never fully understood which group They represented. I mention that only because, in comparing the quality of the two kinds of programme, I do not think minute for minute, or five minutes for five minutes (and I have seldom been allowed on television for longer), or half-hour for half-hour is sufficient for myself, at any rate, to be prepared to say that the B.B.C. was clearly superior, or for that matter that the I.T.A. was clearly superior, over a selected period.

However, I feel that the right reverend Prelate brought out some of the important factors when he explained to the House that, according to his calculations, which are based on the same figures as were supplied to me by the B.B.C., the B.B.C. average some 34 per cent. of serious programmes during the hours from 7 to 10.30; and the right reverend Prelate gave the figure of 10 per cent. for I.T.A. The figures that I have been given might put it up to 11 per cent.; but these are, at any rate, as they reach me, B.B.C. figures. One must be clear in our discussions as to whose figures one is quoting, but I am bound to slay I have no reason to Challenge them. However, I.T.A., in the last day or two, have had some opportunity of challenging the figures, but so far as I know they are not prepared to challenge them, at any rate immediately, over the period from 7 to 10.30. I think we can say, taking that period, which perhaps we might call the peak period, that the B.B.C. average of serious programmes is three times as great as that of I.T.A. I think that is a starting point for these discussions, though it is not, by any means, the whole story. But that is the background against which the matter should be discussed.

I am not disparaging the serious programmes of the I.T.A., which may or may not be as good as those of the B.B.C. I.T.A. argue that the hours which interest them the most are from 6 to 9, slightly different hours, which they call the "family viewing hours". Over that stretch, they claim to produce 25 per cent. of their serious programmes. The B.B.C. cannot understand how that figure can be arrived at, but at any rate it is only fair to give that as an I.T.A. calculation over the period from 6 to 9. But, taking the B.B.C. figures over that I.T.A. selected period, the B.B.C. figure is 41 per cent., a great deal higher. Therefore I think we must agree that the proportion of serious programmes of the B.B.C. over the relevant period is a great deal higher than the proportion of I.T.A. programmes. That is something which really everyone must accept if he wishes to discuss this matter dispassionately.

But I.T.A. are not done with yet, because they come back with T.A.M. ratings. They produce figures to show that their serious programmes are more popular than those of the B.B.C., and if we are really talking of the total impact of certain programmes on the nation they say that we should take into account the fact, or the alleged fact, that more people see their programmes than the B.B.C. programmes. I.T.A. have given me these T.A.M. ratings. According to the T.A.M. ratings, an I.T.A. programme like "This Week" has a percentage viewing of 42 per cent., while "Panorama" has 20 per cent.—I am now giving your Lordships something of the other side. That is an I.T.A. calculation, or, rather, a calculation which T.T.A. put forward with the authority of these T.A.M ratings, for what they may be worth.


My Lords, would my noble friend allow me, at this point, to ask him whether he would tell the House what a T.A.M. rating is, and how it works? I regard it as one of the most dubious forecasts of measurement in existence.


My Lords, I am rather sorry that my noble friend, who is going to wind up, has stationed himself where he has and is shooting at me so early. I am not sure which side he is winding up for, but I thought he was on the same side as myself. I was going to cast some doubt on the T.A.M. ratings, so all I can say is that it is a case of "O ye of little faith"! At any rate, I am simply giving the information to the House. According to the T.A.M. ratings, "This Week" is much more popular than "Panorama"; and their News Bulletin has 48 per cent. viewing, while the B.B.C. News Bulletin has 13 per cent. viewing. I well recall what a former and much revered Leader of this House said, the noble Earl, Lord Jowitt: that the secret of advocacy is that if you have an unpleasant fact on your side of the story, bring it out yourself, to prevent somebody else bringing it out; and it may be that the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, was going to bring out the subject of T.A.M. ratings. The B.B.C. do not accept the T.A.M. ratings, I may say, as giving an accurate picture. The simple fact is that the Pilkington Committee are looking into the question of the T.A.M. ratings and of the B.B.C. method of calculation, and until they have pronounced I have no particular disposition to give any validity to these ratings. But if we are taking a dispassionate view, it is necessary to bring out the facts on both sides of the account.

Let me show your Lordships how the B.B.C. whittle down this advantage alleged by the I.T.A. on some of their programmes. I shall be saying a word about religious programmes later. There, on the face of it, according to the T.A.M. ratings, I.T.A. reckon that their "Sunday Break" programme at 6.15 has a rating of 23 per cent.; that it is viewed by 23 per cent. of possible viewers. They also reckon that their 7 o'clock Sunday programme on religion has the same rating—23 per cent. According to the I.T.A. and the T.A.M. ratings, the B.B.C. 7 o'clock programme "Meeting Point" has a percentage of only 6. These are facts alleged by the I.T.A., and I think they must be taken into account in any discussion. On the other hand, the B.B.C., while accepting 6 per cent. as a fair figure for "Meeting Point", bring down the calculation for "Sunday Break" programme from 23 per cent. to something like 12 per cent., and for "About Religion" from 23 to something like 7 or 8 per cent. So, straight away, those of us on this side who have gone into this are in a position of not accepting without a great deal more evidence these ratings as given.

These are the facts, as brought out from both sides, and in the last few days I have had an opportunity of seeing the facts as they are viewed by both the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. On the facts before us, in my opinion, it would be very difficult—indeed impossible—to deny that a great and positive contribution is being made by the B.B.C., taking it all in all, to the serious or moral side of our national culture. The figures mentioned by the right reverend Prelate and which I have given make it plain that if we are putting the two side by side, leaving out any kind of disparagement of the work done by either authority, we are bound to recognise the much greater contribution made by the B.B.C. to the serious or moral side of our culture.

However, I have one criticism of the B.B.C. and I make it with diffidence, in fear that my noble friend Lord Shackleton will "shoot me down" before I go very far with it; but if he will allow me, I will proceed in the interests of truth and candour. If we isolate the religious programmes and make the same sort of comparison between the B.B.C. and I.T.A., the boot appears to be on the other foot. I know that the right reverend Prelate is the supreme authority on this, because, unless I am mistaken he is Chairman of the Advisory Council which organises the religious effort on television in both I.T.A. and B.B.C., so it will be very interesting to see if he will agree with what I am saying now. It is difficult, indeed impossible, as the right reverend Prelate would be the first to agree, to judge the total religious impact of television by confining oneself to the programmes within the religious period or put out by the religious departments. Obviously, we have to take the religious impact as a whole, and there are a number of very fine programmes put out by the religious departments of both the B.B.C. and I.T.A. which do not come within the religious periods.

Even within the religious periods, it is difficult to make an absolute comparison, because the times allotted to religion vary. In order to make some sort of factual comparison, I would venture to leave out altogether the weekday periods, because they seem roughly to cancel out, and will concentrate on Sunday. At the present time we find a perceptible difference—though I think it is Mess than it was—between the periods devoted to religious television by the two rivals. At the present time, every Sunday, the B.B.C. have 20 minutes at 12.20, ten minutes at 6 o'clock, half-an-hour at 7 o'clock ("Meeting Point") and five minutes at 11.50 p.m. They do a Sunday service of one hour on about half the Sundays in the year; so one could call that half-an-hour, on an average. That gives a total of 1 hour 35 minutes—that is an average figure—for the B.B.C.'s religious television broadcasts on a Sunday.

The I.T.A. give a 55-minutes service every Sunday (compared to the B.B.C.'s one in two); 45 minutes of "Sunday Break" at 6.15 p.m. on three Sundays out of four (on the fourth they have "Land of Song", but as this programme is in Welsh I am not sure whether it is religious or not; I rather think not, but if any Welshman present tells me that it is, I shall accept that ruling); 25 minutes of "About Religion" at 7 o'clock, and a three-minutes "Epilogue". This makes a total of 1 hour, 57 minutes, which is quite a bit more than the B.B.C. Whether these figures are exactly right or slightly wrong, one cannot deny that at the present time I.T.A. are giving slightly more religion on Sundays than the B.B.C.


My Lords, would the noble Lord permit me to intervene, purely on a matter of fact? Is it not true that in "Sunday Break" a great deal of time is taken up with jazz and rock-and-roll, and that only at intervals does a parson interrupt this jazz to h ve a few words?


Lords, I have taken part in this programme: I am no parson interrupting. I and my colleagues had about 20 minutes. Perhaps the truth is halfway betwen a simple statement that this is all religion and the implication that it is not a very effective form of religion I myself think that it is probably a very successful way of putting religion before the people. If the noble Lord had 45 minutes allowed to him for religion. I think that he would be an extremely clever man if he used it more effectively than the very gifted producer who is producing "Sunday Break". I believe that the impact of this programme of 45 minutes is equal to 45 minutes of a service.


My Lords, the argument is a little debatable. I wish to reduce the figure given to its true proportions. A lot of this time is pure entertainment. But I see that the noble Lord argues that any entertainment should be counted as part of religious time.


My Lords, when the noble Lord makes a speech, and I hope that he will, for three quarters of an hour, I think that a few minutes spent in the form of humour, although hardly in the form of rock-and-roll, will be acceptable. I am not speaking now as a public man on what is bad in the substance of speeches but on the facts before us as recorded here.

On an earlier occasion, I paid tribute to the splendid work of the B.B.C.'s Religious Broadcasting Department over many years. I repeat that tribute and pay it with equal sincerity to the clergyman and layman associated with the strong religious impulses in Independent Television. Having studied the matter with a good deal of care since our last debate, I would record emphatically my opinion that at the moment in television the B.B.C. are failing to grasp the religious opportunities open to them. It seems to me that they are failing to realise that the tide of opinion in this country is much more favourable to them than it was a few years ago or than they imagine it to be to-day.

Who is stopping the religious elements in the B.B.C. from putting on services every Sunday, instead of one Sunday in two? Who is stopping them from using the lime they now neglect between 6.10 and 7 p.m.? Is it humanist influences? I cannot deny them their right to make their presence felt. I hardly think that it is humanist influences; no doubt they have exercised their own control over programmes such as the "Brains Trust", but in the matter we are discussing now, I do not think that it can be put down to the humanists. I think that it is the calculation of the Religious Department of the B.B.C., deeply dedicated clergymen, as I know them to be, that they bore their audiences and do no good to their cause by putting on more religion than at present. I believe that that is a mistaken calculation.


My Lords, would not the noble Lord agree that the more religion you listen to, the less you go to Church?


My Lords, of course, I am in a different position. I have to go to church. I cannot really judge how the noble Lord would be affected, but I think that if he listened to "Sunday Break", with quite a bit of rock-'n'-roll, while he would not go to church more than now, his churchgoing would be as regular as it always has been. Whatever the explanation of that, it seems to me that the I.T.A. have proved that there is an actual demand for religious television much greater than almost anybody supposed a few years ago. I can only hope that the B.B.C. will make up the leeway as soon as possible, and even set a new standard for the I.T.A. to catch up with.

Now, my Lords, we come to the 64,000-dollar question: what kind of authority should be awarded the third channel? For the sake of argument, I assume that in the first instance there will be only one channel available. It seems to me necessary here to set out two strands of argument. There is, first of all, the argument as to whether the B.B.C. or the I.T.A. are doing better work at the present time, or are likely to do better work in the future; and secondly, there is the argument as to whether the coming of this commercial competition has of itself tended to lower standards all round, including the standards of public authorities such as the B.B.C. I have already made such comparison as is open to me on the first ground. But the question of whether there has been a decline in the moral standards of television generally since the coming of the I.T.A. is an extraordinarily difficult one, and there is a sharp conflict of views upon it from well-informed persons.

The I.T.A., curiously enough, are ready to exert themselvse to prove that there has been no decline in the B.B.C.; that the B.B.C. are better than they were before ever the I.T.A. emerged on the scene. They produce figures, for example to show that talks, demonstrations and documentary programmes of the B.B.C. were responsible in 1953–54 for 255 hours, or 13 per cent. of the total, and in 1959 for 767 hours, or 24 per cent. of the total. That is one point. And the I.T.A. are genuinely concerned in their evidence to the Pilkington Committee (which I have seen) to suggest that there has not been this alleged decline all round, and that there has been no decline in the B.B.C., who were there before.

But that is not the whole story. There might have been a startling decline in the drama and light entertainment. If standards deteriorate there, they could easily outweigh any improvement on the serious side. On this aspect various authorities have offered their opinions. The B.B.C. say that competition has meant a measure of loss under various headings. What I think they mean there is that it has prevented improvements that would otherwise have occurred. To quote from a B.B.C. document: … the most serious loss as a result of the appearance of commercial television is the denial to the public of a planned alternative programme. That is, in fact, the view of the B.B.C., which no doubt has a great deal to commend it. I must not detain the House with quotations from the evidence of the Church of England, which in any case would much better come either from the right reverend Prelate or from the Congregationalists and other bodies of Free Churchmen, but I mention the matter to show that I have studied their views.

Perhaps I may conclude with a few sentences from the evidence submitted by the Catholic body to the Pilkington Committee. After paying tributes to much that is excellent and many good motives at work, they deplore the low moral standards evidenced in a not inconsiderable number of plays, variety performances and other programmes. This is the view of the Catholic body, and in case your Lordships may think it is the view of a few jaundiced hermits, I can assure you that the three gentlemen most responsible are well qualified to speak about television. They say: during the last few years there has been a deterioration in the standards observed both by the British Broadcasting Corporation and by the programme companies operating under the Independent Television Authority". They stress the fact that this deterioration in standards has occurred at a time when there has been a spirit of intense competition for the television audience. Well, that is their opinion and I accept it, not, so to speak, simply as a faithful son of their particular Communion, but because it seems to me right so far as I can judge—though Heaven knows who can be really dogmatic in judgments of this kind!

But if their conclusions are approximately right—and there are some pretty damaging comments to the same effect in the evidence of the Church of England—there is a grave situation, and a still graver prospect; and we cannot twiddle our thumbs in front of it. The I.T.A. themselves, quite apart from any third channel, are asking for a new power, which I think they should be given, to exercise a more effective censorship in advance. But as, in fact, the programmes that are most objected to are already capable of advance inspection, I am not sure that it would make so much difference as they may think. The Catholic evidence, again without reference to the third channel, includes the excellent proposal that programmes classified as being unsuitable for family audiences should not be shown before a fixed time each evening—say, half past eight. A number of other valuable reforms can also be propounded—and, indeed, are being propounded here this afternoon.

But in the last resort, my Lords, if we accept the view that competition in the form it is taking to-day is tending to lower moral standards of television and endanger the morals of our people, especially of our young people, the conclusion follows almost, if not quite, inevitably, that an additional channel should be administered as a public service: it should not be given to commercial interests. It certainly follows if one accepts that analysis and diagnosis of such a body as the one I quoted. Without developing the argument at length, I am sure in my awn mind that if it is given, as it should be, to a public service, it would be far better handled by the B.B.C., of which we are all proud in our various ways, than by some artificial contraption hatched out to make some appearance of rather phony competition. So let it go not only to a public service but to the B.B.C. itself.

I end with a sincere tribute to the achievements of the men and women in television, whether employed by the B.B.C. or by the I.T.A. There is a tremendous lot of idealism there and in spite of all the criticism, some of which I have submitted to your Lordships, I am sure that television can become a great blessing to all our people, and particularly those of our people who are in need of encouragement and consolation in difficult times.

5.37 p.m.


My Lords, at this stage of the evening and of the debate, I have no intention of going into any detail of such technicalities as wavelengths, bands, frequencies and so on; because, frankly, I understand very little of them. I am in some slight difficulty about a point of Order. I think it is usual to disclose one's interest. Whether I have an interest I am not certain; in any case it is not a financial interest. But there is a body called the B.B.C. Advisory Council which is composed of some eminent gentlemen and some others. In the first category are the right reverend Prelate who has just spoken and the noble Lord, Lord Strang; and, as I say, there are others. The function of the Advisory Committee is to make recommendations to the B.B.C., and I find it rather interesting that when these recommendations are made, they often have one of two results: that the advice is taken, sometimes before it has even been proffered by the Advisory Council; or the advice is most reverently placed in a most urgent pigeonhole, although I think that something often emerges again later on.

I think it is not appropriate to go into the various technical points on which other noble Lords have much more information than I have, but there are just four small things I should like to touch on, quite briefly. First, there is the 625-line definition in television. I am not going into any technicalities in any depth, but it seems to me obvious that a 625-line definition must have great advantages over the existing 405-line definition. We are told in all sorts of learned documents how difficult it will be to change over from one to the other, but it strikes me as like changing over from the ox-wagon to the train and aeroplane: it has to come in time, and the longer we put it off, the more difficult it will be. The I.T.A., I believe, ask for a respite of some ten years before this is done, and the radio industry talks about fifteen to twenty years. They say that it will be very difficult and expensive for the viewer to acquire a new set. But television sets do not all go out of fashion or wear out all at the same time. It will normally be over a period of years, whether that time is ten or fifteen or twenty years. I agree that a change will be expensive, but I think we should face it now: and the B.B.C. are in favour of doing so.

The second point which I will touch on, even more shortly, is that of colour television. There again, there is the inevitability of its coming along. The B.B.C. are ready to go ahead with that at once. Again, it will be expensive and difficult, but I think we should encourage them now, before it becomes more expensive and more difficult. Local broadcasting, too, will surely come about. I do not think any of us expects the whole of the British Islands to be addressed at one time, or views put across at one time, by one single unit. There is obviously going to be a demand for local news and views, and again I think we should support the B.B.C. in their desire to get on with that project.

My fourth point is that I would very strongly support the noble Lord, Lord Strang, in what he said about overseas services. I would ask the Minister who is to reply to take this most seriously. I apologise for being a bore, because I raise year after year the immense importance of overseas services. It is not a matter just for the noble Minister—if he will forgive my putting it that way—nor for the Postmaster General; nor for the Chancellor of the Exchequer; nor entirely, as the noble Lord, Lord Strang, suggested, for the Foreign Secretary. It is a Cabinet matter. It is of the utmost and highest importance. I, and many like me—and I hope that I may take the noble Lord, Lord Strang, with me—think quite sincerely that millions and millions of pounds spent on defence projects of one sort or another, which become obsolete in a fairly short time, could be infinitely better used in very widespread overseas broadcasting, which is bound to come before we have peace. In other words, we shall never have world peace until there is world knowledge of what the truth is; and this is the only way for us to get it right across to backward and frequently deliberately misguided peoples.

I am not going to follow the noble Earl, Lord Longford, because he is expert in his own line. But there was one point which I did not quite understand, and that was when he mentioned T.A.M., and when he was pricked in the back by one of his own supporters. I think he said he was going to tell us what T.A.M. it was. I am afraid that I know only two "TAMS"—one is a member of the highly respected family of O'Shanter; and the other your Lordships frequently meet when the bath mat is upside down.

The general interest in this debate, it seems to me, is whether we have enough or too much, or the wrong or the right sort of noises and pictures projected at us over the air. To be a full expert in this matter a man would have to glue his ears or his eyes upon the appropriate instrument for at least 24 hours a day; and as a result of that he would, of course, lose all touch with normal life and so would cease to be an expert. So that is a vicious circle. The whole matter has to be judged as one of compromise and of balancing the mutual impact on the ordinary person of outside life, on the one hand, and of these radio influences, on the other. The responsibility is great, and I think it has properly fallen upon Parliament, if not actually to legislate, then to guide very seriously, with a sense of responsibility, what has to be done. The decision is as difficult as that of Paris and the three Graces—that is to say: what the public wants; what the public ought to have; and what the public ought not to have.

Of course, a subsidiary but important problem is that of how much advantage should be allowed to accrue to those who are the middlemen who merchant the radio material to the consumer. In the sense that man's knowledge or pleasure (or sometimes displeasure) is increased by broadcasting and television, I think it is idle to argue that these media are not in the broad sense of the word educative; and although the entertainment aspect takes first place in our conception of broadcasting and television, I think we shall agree that entertainment and education go hand in hand; for no learning is of real value if it contains no enjoyment, and I suggest that probably the reverse is the case also. Therefore, I would claim that in handling these media at all we are accepting, as I think we must, a degree only, but a degree, of compulsion towards the receiving end. The ordinary listener and viewer are being compelled to be educated.

If this be so—and I think it is so—it is the moral duty of Parliament and of all of us to ensure that in this new age of opening wide the doors of opportunity to the vast majority, instead of, as previously, to the privileged minority, the high standards of the eclectic few should still be largely the criterion for our national taste and intelligence. I think we should ensure that, in the upsurge of new and welcome millions to a more educated status, those values should not be allowed to drop too far. Of course, in the process of levelling up, which so many of us have been advocating for so long, it is very important to minimise as far as possible, and with all our power, the consequent result of having to accept a little of the inevitable levelling down. The levelling up to higher horizons can only proceed by degrees. It would be too easy to abandon the ideals which have been, in general terms, our targets, and to say that what is called "popular taste" must now have full rein and full sway. Some may say: "Why not?" The answer, surely, is that the thing called "popular taste" is not a static thing: it is constantly advancing and improving by actual trial and error towards that higher standard of appreciation which does ultimately give more satisfaction and more pleasure; and in that sense more entertainment.

It is, I suggest, because we are still near the bottom of that new ladder of greater opportunity for all that the first manifestations of the general popular taste are probably a bit cruder and more elementary than they will be later on as the intellectual appetite becomes more selective, as it will be as a result of the educative element in the radio services in general. It is surely, therefore, necessary to plan for a developing taste, particularly of young people, in the future, rather than for to-day's temporary demand.

That brings us to the problem of which is the right type of organisation to handle an extension of this responsibility, with its inevitable element of educational enforcement. Quite simply, I fear that a purely commercial authority, as my noble friend Lord Beveridge has said, is bound to be influenced by its own quite proper self-interest to a degree which is certain to detract from objective presentation. It is bound to be tempted to "cash in" on passing tastes and appetites, whether they be good ones or bad ones; and although public opinion would not tolerate a deviation below a certain minimum standard of good taste, the risk is always present. I think it should be minimised by entrusting, say, four-fifths of any extension of programmes to a non-commercial authority comparable to or identical with the B.B.C. and only a small proportion to the commercial side. This may be rather a conservative approach, but the matter is so very important that I think we ought to play for safety. I do not pretend that the B.B.C. is beyond criticism. It is apt to be rather monolithic and rather self-sufficient; but as a pioneer in a comparatively new field it has earned our confidence and has demonstrated that it is not unrealistic to set one's sights pretty high.

Commercial television, on the other hand, has proved to many of us, I am afraid, that the admission of some degree of vulgarity, as demonstrated in most television advertising, can in some strange way lower the whole tone of the programme output. I may be wrong, but that is the impression I get, and I know that many of my friends do, too. I am not an opponent of the commercial organisations. I just maintain that, at the present stage of development, they are the junior partners in what is still an academically undeveloped field. They must accept the fact that pioneering, experiment and development should be entrusted to an objective body representing a public service, governed by ethical considerations.

5.50 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Rea, asked what a T.A.M. rating was, and I will tell him very briefly. It stands for Television Audience Measurement Limited, and it is a commercial concern which works out how many sets are switched on to view commercial television or other kinds of television. What they do is to attach to selected television sets a thing called a Tameter, which is simply a device for measuring which channel the machine is adjusted to. Once a week somebody goes round and reads these Tameters to see how many hours and at which hours the television set was switched on for any particular channel. So if you happen to be like many British householders, and leave the television set switched on while you do other things—believe it or not, many people do that—it clocks up on the Tameter as a positive audience reaction, as it were, and that is how the thing is done.

These householders are selected on a sampling basis for each I.T.V. area. I am not going to criticise the sampling; I do not know anything about it. People are asked if they mind having this machine fitted to their television set and in return they get free servicing of their set, which is fair enough. I should not object if somebody wanted to do it to mine; in fact I should be "quids in", because mine is a very old set. But I am not eligible because my set is not a multi-channel receiver and they do it only for multi-channel receivers. But it is quite different from B.B.C. audience research. They measure, if they measure anything, family viewing and not individual viewing, and they measure according to whether the set is switched on. They do not measure anything about the people but only about the set.

If you have a car radio—and I am sure many of your Lordships have—and if you happen to travel to work at such a time that you can listen between five minutes to ten and ten a.m., I strongly recommend you, and particularly my noble friend Lord Longford, to switch on to the B.B.C. Light Programme, because every morning at five to ten there is the best little religious programme you could wish for. It is a wonderful piece of work, and I would pay tribute to the B.B.C. for the remarkable job they do for five minutes for the housewives busy at their housework. They tell a little story, usually a missionary story, maybe a medical missionary story. I must say that when I am in the car at five minutes to ten I always feel a little better for hearing that story.

The noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, said that the Pilkington Committee had to re-examine fundamentals. I am sure they will do so. But he went on to say that they must accept the continuing existence of both the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. So, although they re-examine fundamentals, they must be limited in their conclusions about fundamentals. That is fair enough, provided we know where we are. Nevertheless they have to make a choice, because they have to come down either for commercial television or for public service television for the remaining channel, the third channel, which we all know and I think hope we are going to get in the reasonably near future. So, one way or the other, the Pilkington Committee must come down, not necessarily for the B.B.C.; they can come down for some other public service form of broadcasting. The question is whether it will be financed by advertising or in some other way out of general taxation.

Anybody who has sat on a Royal Commission or a Committee of Inquiry for the Government will know the enormous volume of paper which deluges on the unfortunate members. The noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, said that 350 papers had already been submitted to the Pilkington Committee. I can quite believe it. My noble friend Lord Beveridge and I ploughed through oceans of paper—piles and piles of it, a great deal from the B.B.C. And we did our homework very carefully. I can assure your Lordships he was a very good boss in that respect; he certainly made sure we did our homework. A little while ago we were discussing the Royal Commission on Doctors' Pay, and you may recall that Sir Harry Pilkington was the Chairman of that. But because of the great volume of paper that faced him, he did not get all the facts he ought to have got. In particular your Lordships may remember he missed out the Report of the Cohen Committee, presided over by my noble friend Lord Cohen of Birkenhead, on general practice and the payment of general practitioners. He does not mention it at all in his Royal Commission Report on doctors' pay. I want to make certain that he reads a certain bit of the Beveridge Report, and that is pages 213 to 226, which I think is the best bit of it; but then I am biased, because I drafted it. Your Lordships will see that this was signed by most of the members of the Beveridge Committee but not by my noble friend Lord Beveridge.

I think the majority of us wanted to get over absolutely clearly, and without any degree of doubt, the difference between sponsored broadcasting and radio advertising. We wanted to make it clear what those two things were. We have not got sponsored television in the I.T.A. The programme and news companies, the people who make the programmes and news, are really much like popular commercial magazines; but whereas popular commercial magazines get part of their money from advertising and part of it from sales, the programme companies get it from advertising only. To put it at its worst, their job is to collect an audience for their advertising; to put it at its best, it is to provide a public service for viewers and to make a profit, and to pay for both of them out of the advertising revenue. That is putting it at its best.

But in fact the real position is somewhere betwixt and between. There are many people in commercial television with a sense of public service, but there are many who are in it simply to make money. I feel sure, of course, that the eleven Members of your Lordships' House who are directors of programme companies are all in it as a public service. I am delighted that the noble Lord who is going to speak immediately after me, who is one of the directors of one of these companies, is here to-day, and I am only sorry some of the other ten are not here to defend their programmes.

Every programme contractor must, quite reasonably, have a bias towards accepting advertising, for this is his bread and butter. Advertising combines two things: it combines the giving of information and persuasion. Giving of information is something which is a very legitimate part of advertising and it has been going on for donkeys' years. It occurs in all sorts of spheres and ways, and it is reasonable and helpful to the community. I see nothing whatever wrong with the information service of advertising. And I am not going to say that I see a very great deal wrong with persuasion as part of advertising, provided the purpose of persuasion is reasonable. In persuasion repetition plays a large part, and if you repeat nonsense carefully and frequently enough many people will believe it. It does not matter if a small minority do not, believe it, because the job of commercial advertisers is only to sell as many as they can of their items; they do not want to sell to everybody; they want to sell as many items as they can.

Recognising the dangers of this, the Government set out in the Independent Television Act that the I.T.A. should by law set up an advertising advisory committee, and that, having set this up, the I.T.A. should see that the recommendations of its advertising advisory committee were carried out. Although the I.T.A. have power to modify those recommendations, I do not think they have ever done so. Unfortunately, though the I.T.A. try hard, they do not always succeed in carrying out the recommendations or seeing that they are carried out, as I shall shortly show.

The first principle of television advertising, as set out in this admirable and interesting booklet, Principles for Television Advertising, Third Edition, Independent Television Authority, July, 1960, is that television advertising should be "legal, clean, honest and truthful." It is almost all legal, and almost all clean, in my opinion; but it is not all honest and truthful. We find on page 3 of this document—and all this is accepted by I.T.V.: No advertisement taken as a whole or in part, shall contain … any reference which is likely to lead the public to assume that the product advertised, or an ingredient, has some special property or quality which is, in fact, unknown, unrecognised or incapable of being established, Scientific and Technical Terms—Statistics, scientific terms, quotations from technical literature and the like must be used with a proper sense of responsibility to the ordinary viewer. The irrelevant use of data and jargon must never be resorted to to make claims appear more scientific than they really are. Statistics of limited validity must not be presented in such a way as to make it appear that they are universally true. There are a number of types of advertisement which are barred and banned altogether. For example, you cannot advertise moneylending on I.T.V.; nor can you advertise pools or betting; nor can you advertise how to invest your money—Stock Exchange advertisements. You cannot advertise a matrimonial agency, fortune telling, undertaking or other businesses associated with death or burial—I suppose because it would make people miserable and stop them from looking at the rest of the advertisements. You may not advertise preparations for bust development or, except as permitted by the British Code of Standards, for slimming, weight reduction or limitation, or figure control". You are not allowed to advertise contraceptives, smoking cures—that is interesting; I suppose it is because so many cigarettes are advertised on I.T.V.—nor are you allowed to advertise preparations for the treatment of alcoholism, or contact or corneal lenses.

When we come down to the heading "Advertising of Medicines and Treatments", there is a code laid down which sets out all sorts of interesting information. There cannot be any visual presentation which would give the impression of professional advice or recommendation. That means that if a chap like a doctor is recommending a patent medicine and he wears a white coat, there must be a little notice at the bottom saying that he is not a doctor but a sales promoter. That is absolutely true. That is what they do in order to get round this rule. Then it must not look as though somebody having responsibility is giving advice, and it must not appear to come from a doctor. And it says: No advertisement should contain a claim to cure any ailment"— they are most careful about this word "cure" as you will see in a moment— nor should [it] contain a word or expression used in such a form or context as to mean in the positive sense the extirpation of any ailment, illness or disease. It must not suggest that a serious illness which needs a doctor's attention should be dealt with.

It further says: No advertisement should contain any matter which directly or by implication misleads or departs from the truth as to the composition, character or action of the medicine or treatment advertised or as to its suitability for the purpose for which it is recommended …. No advertisement should claim or suggest, contrary to the fact, that the article advertised is in the form in which it occurs in nature or that its value lies in its being a 'natural' product. You are, of course, allowed to say if it is a natural product. Finally, it says: No advertisement should offer products for the treatment of hæmorrhoids unless the following warning notice appears with the directions for use on the container itself or its labels"— not in the advertisement— 'Persons who suffer from hæmorrhoids are advised to consult a doctor'. There are a number of things that one may not advertise remedies for at all: for example, blood pressure, gallstones and a great number of things, including varicose veins. Your Lordships are aware that hæmorrhoids are varicose veins in a special place. You are allowed to advertise in regard to hæmorrhoids, but not varicose veins.

In fact, the code is frequently broken in minor degrees in a way that I will now explain. The control of advertisements on I.T.A. is most interesting. In the first place, when the advertisement is in its early stages a thing called a story board is prepared by the advertising agency. This sets out what is going to be in the advertisement when it is finished: and in order to make sure that they do not waste a lot of money they prepare the advertisement before making films of it and it is submitted to a body called the Independent Television Copy Advisory Committee. This is a body run by all the programme companies, the people who are going to "push out" the advertisements. The advertisement does not have to be submitted to them, but it is in the interests of the advertiser to do so, because, if it is passed by the Copy Committee, then he can get it shown on any I.T.V. service without having to re-submit it, as it were; it is a sort of guarantee that it is all right in I.T.V. terms. That is the first test. If the Copy Committee do not like it, they refer it to a consulting physician or to a consulting pharmacologist whom they employ. Your Lordships will see in a moment how this works, because it is not a very stringent test that is applied. The consulting physician does not see all; he only sees what the Committee refers; and, as I say, this is only a small part.

The next bit of control is a thing called the I.T.A. Advertising Advisory Committee, which is the body set up by law and which meets actually once every two months. So this is entirely retrospective. They can complain about advertisements only after they have been broadcast; there can be no question about their seeing any stuff submitted to them in advance. They certainly try hard, but they are doing an impossibly difficult job. There is, however, a third point of control. This is something which any of your Lordships—indeed, any member of the public—can exercise for yourselves if you like, because every Monday morning at 10.30 you or I can switch on Channel 9 and for about half an hour there will appear a complete screening, or almost a complete screening, of new commercials. This is a most interesting experience. I did it last Monday morning. As a matter of fact, it is also watched by a gentleman called the advertising administration officer of the I.T.A. at Knightsbridge. He provided me with the facts about this, and I am most grateful to him. If he sees any objectionable advertisement he can object and have it taken off from further showing.

Last Monday there were 52 advertisements in twenty-five minutes at this showing, the purpose of which is not as a check on I.T.V. or on the advertisements but to enable people who run shops to see what is being advertised so that they can get their goods ready. I thought only one of the 52 was really objectionable and should be condemned, though I considered some very doubtful. I will tell you about one objectionable advertisement. It concerned a young lady having a bath, to which I did not object at all—I thought it was perfectly reasonable. She was advised to bath with something called "Breeze". The claim was that body odour is due to overall perspiration and bacterial action and not simply to under-arm perspiration. It went on to say that "Breeze" contains triodine, which removes bacteria and therefore gives lasting protection. I knew there was no such stuff as triodine, so I asked the I.T.A. officer what triodine was and he made inquiries and found that "Breeze" contains something called tri-brom-salicilamide which has an antibacterial action. In fact, this was referred by the Copy Committee to the consulting physician, who said "Yes", tri-brom-salicilamide is anti-bacterial". That is fair enough. I submit, my Lords—I have never said "submit" before—that I think this is the most obvious, manifest breach of those regulations that I read out. And things of this sort are happening all the time. This was a very, very good morning, I may say, as your Lordships will see in a minute.

The other two cases I am not going to worry your Lordships with, because they were not very serious ones. But the serious part of the one I have mentioned is that although this may have an anti-bacterial action, so far as I know there is no evidence that generalised body odour is due to bacterial action. I think this was all scientific hokum, and no investigation of it was made as it should have been. I would submit that it is nothing to do with the truth and is in complete disregard of those regulations.

Of the rest, some were very amusing indeed, and some were quite fatuous; but, if you are going to have advertisements, I thought that on the whole, apart from that one, they were as reasonable as one could expect. If last Monday was typical, I gather that about 3,000 advertisements are screened at 10.30 a.m. and seen by this advertising administration officer at Knightsbridge every year. But there are about 6,000 to 8,000 new television advertisements every year, so a substantial proportion of advertisements—somewhere between 20 per cent. and 50 per cent.—are not seen by the advertising administration officer. As I explained, it is a voluntary matter and those that are not seen are either ones which are being shown only locally or, I suspect, ones which are not very suitable or satisfactory to be seen.

Here are some examples of these television advertisements, and your Lordships must judge, in the light of the code I gave you, whether they are really truthful, honest, fair and reasonable things to say. They were all broadcast in the course of the last two or three months, all since the beginning of 1961.

Announcer: 'Repairing the trouble isn't easy when indigestion is troubling you.' 'What a time for indigestion', says the first man. 'Here, try some Settlers, they'll soon fix your indigestion.' A voice: 'Settlers bring relief, Settlers bring express relief; Settlers bring express relief.' First man: 'No argument about Settlers. The pain's going already.' Second man: 'I said Settlers were good.' First man: 'I'll never be without them.' Announcer: 'End indigestion suffering with quick-acting Settlers, available from chemists everywhere. Settlers settle indigestion.' Here is the next one, which is completely misleading: "Beecham's pills and modern living', says the announcer. The pace of modern living is often exacting, and modern people, like this competent young hair stylist, must enjoy regular good health to cope with the demands of her work. That's why she relies on Beecham's pills. Beecham's pills bring her bright eyes, healthy skin, extra vitality.' My Lords, that is absolute rot. Beecham's pills are a laxative, as we all know, and it is just a complete lie.

To meet the challenge of modern living, be modern yourself: take Beecham's pills for regularity and good health. I may say that that was on Southern Television. Strain? Rheumatic pain? One degree under?" "Not any more, thanks to Aspro. Never catch me without me Aspro." "I put Joe on to Aspro when he first started getting twinges of rheumatism. It's done wonders for him. Notice it is not a claim for a cure. You must not claim a cure.

It's done wonders for him"— those are the words— and there's nothing better than Aspro for a cold, too. We both say, 'When you're one degree under, Aspro soon puts you right'. Again it is not a claim to cure. Stop that cough scientifically. Antussin calms the nerves that make you cough. You see, it is those irritated cough nerves in the inflamed passages that make you cough. Now, Antussin passes straight to the nervous system; from here it calms, calms those irritated cough nerves. Antussin calms the nerves that make you cough. Antussin! That was on I.T.V., on January 7.

Man in the train with a cold. Man's voice: Colds bring sneezing, shivering, depression. You need a formula to deal with these symptoms, the Phensic formula, to clear up your cold, to speed recovery. The Phensic formula is better for colds than aspirin alone. Now, as a matter of fact, it is slightly better than aspirin alone. Phensic contains aspirin, phenacetin and caffein, almost in the same proportions as the A.P.C. tablet of the British Pharmacopoeia—certainly of the national formulae. The A.P.C. tablet costs 8d. for twenty; Phensic costs 1s. 9d. for twenty, so I do not think you are getting a very good bargain with that.

Stop that cold before it starts; act without delay. Pop a Potters in your mouth, and keep the germs away. Yes, stop that cold before it starts with Potter's Catarrh Pastilles. This is a very doubtful one, indeed. They are offering you a preventive. It is, of course, quite dishonest, because there is no evidence that Potter's Catarrh Pastilles prevent colds; none whatsoever. There is not much evidence that anything prevents colds, come to that, my Lords. This is just plainly dishonest, and therefore a breach of the regulations. But it does not claim a cure.

One could go on with these for rather a long time. Here is a very bad one: Here's a real medical breakthrough for people with stomach trouble. A real medical breakthrough is surely a claim of a scientific advance. New Primes actually control the stomach nerve centre that causes indigestion. Look! When stomach nerves get upset they pump in painful acid, cause heartburn, indigestion, nausea. But with dicentamine"— I do not know what dicentamine is; I cannot find such a substance recorded— Primes actually control the stomach nerve centre. That's why, for relief no plain antacid could ever give, ask your chemist for new Primes. There are a lot of these things about Vitamin C, which the I.T.A. apparently think is all right for sturdy bones, sound teeth and resistance to colds and infection. Vitamin C is a perfectly harmless vitamin, lack of which causes scurvy, but you have to be without Vitamin C for a very long time before you can produce scurvy. It is a very difficult disease to produce, and 99½999 per cent. of the people of Britain do not suffer from unsturdy bones, unsound teeth or lack of resistance to colds and infection because they have not got any Vitamin C, and to suppose that it in fact builds up resistance to colds and infection is completely untrue. There is not a word of truth in that one, and I do not think they have any medical evidence to support it. Anyhow, there is a certain amount of rivalry here. That was "Delrosa"; but "Ribena" claims that blackcurrants are wonderful. "Delrosa" is made from rose hips, but they make just the same claims. Wilfred Pickles: 'I would like you to meet Mr. Lilliat. He comes from New Brighton. Mr. Lilliat, just tell me what Fynnon Salt did for you.' 'Well, I had this arm very bad, and shoulder, you know with driving this vehicle, and one thing and another, the window open and draught coming in, and it got very bad.' Wilfred Pickles: 'Yes, now did it interfere when you were driving this lorry?' Mr, Lilliat: 'Oh yes, I felt I would have to do something about it so I took my landlady's advice and tried Fynnon, and after about a fortnight I felt the vain going'— not cured! 'and finally it went altogether, but I still take Fynnon's about twice a week.' Wilfred Pickles: 'Well, you know what Mr. Lilliat here did. Try Fynnon salt.' I am pleased to say that I have only two more examples, but I feel that Her Majesty's Government should have this evidence and know what they are sponsoring. Here is one: Announcer: 'Sounds almost too good to be true doesn't it? A new treatment for hæmorrhoids, and it really works; but you can take it from me this new discovery really does reduce hæmorrhoids and relieves the irritation and pain. It is called Preparation "H" and it's based on wonderful healing Biodyne'"— needless to say, of course, there is no such substance— Sufferers all over the country are writing grateful letters about it. Listen to this one from Mrs. G. of Taunton: 'I suffered from hæmorrhoids for years and am at present awaiting an operation. In desperation I tried Preparation "H" and almost immediately great relief was obtained, an actual retraction'— that means shrinking— 'took place. If the improvement is maintained I will have no need for an operation. Thank you for helping sufferers with this painful and embarrassing complaint.' And that's just one of scores of letters telling how Preparation 'H' actually shrinks hæmorrhoids, stops irritation and relieves pain. Remember, Preparation 'H'. I thought this was such a "shocker" that I took it up with the Advertising Administration Officer of I.T.A. He said, "Yes, it is bad—that word 'shrinks'". That is the approach of the I.T.A. Because it just happens to pass over this tiny margin of a cure at one point only, it is wrong. But it is a disgrace to any country, I think, to have that kind of muck going out. It is (a) lies and (b) wicked lies, because, as your Lordships will know, a certain number of people who develop piles, hæmorrhoids, are, in fact, suffering from carcinoma of the rectum, and take this beastly muck and get much worse. I think it is a disgrace and absolutely awful that we should have handed television over to this kind of thing.

One final example: Announcer: if you're a teenager, chances are you've tried some ordinary pimple creams, but maybe they didn't work for you. Listen to this young American. She tried Clearasil: Girl: 'When my face broke out, I was very embarrassed and nothing seemed to help. Then I found Clearasil and in a short time my face was clear again'. Announcer: There it is, Clearasil, America's leading skin medication because it really works, actually starves pimples. Clearasil, skin coloured, starves pimples. Try it. Acne is a very unpleasant complaint which causes a lot of distress to many young people, and this kind of rubbish, again, should not be allowed.


My Lords, would my noble friend allow me to ask him whether, despite the fact that only one or two of them actually infringe the I.T.A.'s own regulations, all the advertisements he has read out are lying and deceiving?


My Lords, yes, all are lying and deceiving, and there is a general overall regulation which says that advertisements must not be lying and deceiving. But, of course, it is manifest to your Lordships that this regulation simply is not observed.


And everybody knows it.


Yes; everybody knows it. Most of those advertisements come from London, but some are from Southern Television. I asked, "Why Southern Television?", and it appears that many things are tried out on Southern Television. Then, if the response in terms of sales of pimple cures, or whatever it is, is good, those things are pushed on the national network. That is why a number of these advertisements were on Southern Television. It so happens that the Chairman of Southern Television is also Chairman of either the Television Advisory Committee or the Copy Scrutiny Committee—which does not make it any better.

I have tried to show your Lordships that although much of this television advertising does no harm—and much of it does not do any harm—some of it is filthy, pernicious and dishonest and is in open defiance of the own Code. This arises from very simple reasons. The selection of advertisements, and their approval, is in the hands of the people who make the money out of the advertisements1—namely the programme companies and the Programme Copy Committee. There is the Advisory Committee in the background, but it has no power and works restrosipectively. So long as the sale of television advertising time is in the hands of these programme companies, and so long as any patent medicine advertising is permitted, we shall get this muck. That is all there is to it. If we were to ban all patent medicine advertising the problem would be solved, exactly as with the undertakers or moneylenders. And that, I would advocate to your Lordships' House, is the most sensible thing to be done straight away. Ban all patent medicine advertising on television. That is the only human, decent thing to do, and it would at once clear up much of the trouble.

I have inquired what would be the cost of doing that, and it appears that it would mean a loss of about £5 million a year to the I.T.A. companies, out of their £80 million total takings. So they would not lose very much; and if that were the price of their continued happy existence I do not think they would greatly object. But I am quite sure that this sort of thing ought not to go on. It ought to be stopped at once, straight away. The second reason why this happens is because there is no penal power whatsoever in the hands of the I.T.A. to make the misbehaver behave. That fellow who pushed out the hæmorrhoids advertisement was telephoned by the Advertising Administration Officer of I.T.A. and asked why he had done it; and he said he thought it had passed the Copy Committee. He got a "ticking-off"—but who cares? He has got his money for it. He should be fined double the value of the advertisement. But the I.T.A. have no power to do so. They cannot discipline these men. I was going to say something nasty but I will not—


Say it!


No, I will not say it; but that is the situation.

I have been attacking one small portion of television advertising and giving it the hardest kicking I can, because I think it is wrong, wicked and immoral. But on the credit side, let us say at once that both the I.T.A. and the B.B.C. do a very good job so far as medicine is concerned. There we have no complaints. They give a very good show, and try hard; and on the programme side I have no complaints. I do not object to "Emergency Ward 10" or "Matters of Medicine", and I believe that both in documentaries and fiction they do a good job of health education. But why spoil it with this kind of thing?

I have not the slightest doubt that the right course, for quite other reasons than those we have been discussing, is to give the third channel to public service television. I hope that it will go to the B.B.C. I have toyed with the idea that there should be a second public service corporation, but the cost of doing that would be very much higher than the cost of having the B.B.C. do it. The other great thing is that we shall have to co-ordinate the two, otherwise we shall have competition all over again, with two more Light Programmes when we want a Light programme and a Home Service. I was talking this morning to a friend of mine, a very ordinary average Briton, and I asked him what he thought of I.T.V. His reply was: "Well, it is free, so far as we are all concerned; and I suppose that since it is free we must not grumble." But he went on to say, "If we are going to have a third one, let us have another B.B.C. channel so that we can get a Home Service as well as a Light Programme." That, I think, would be the opinion of the ordinary people of Britain; and I hope very much that it will be the opinion of the Pilkington Committee.

6.30 p.m.


My Lords, I rise as the lone voice so far in your Lordships' House that wishes to say something in support of Independent Television. Of course, I at once confirm to your Lordships the information which my noble friend Lord Taylor gave: that I am an interested party, in that I am a director of Scottish Television—and let me say at once an unrepentant and pleased director. The right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Manchester spoke about the high profits made by television companies. I do not suppose that the right reverend Prelate has ever had the satisfaction that I have had of going on a racecourse and backing a rank outsider at about 40 to 1, when nobody would put any money on it at all, and then seeing it come home. I can assure the right reverend Prelate that if he had ever had that experience he would feel rather as I do as a small investor in television. Because at the time when this particular company with which I am concerned was started no one who was not ready to write off, in his mind, his total investment at the time was prepared to put money into such a venture, which at that time, taking the television companies as a whole, had something like £10 million accumulated losses. Of course, it has turned out well; it has turned out very much better than any of us ever expected; and indeed Her Majesty's Government have benefited, and are benefiting at present, quite rightly, very highly in the way of income tax and company tax.

But, my Lords, I enjoyed the speech of my noble friend Lord Taylor, when he quoted so many advertisements that read so freely in the daily Press each day. At least, I suppose he was quoting equally from the daily newspapers, because those advertisements are published just as freely and in just as exaggerated a form in the daily newspapers. I, too, deprecate any form of stupid exaggeration, and I would support any measure which would strengthen the hand, if it needs strengthening, of those who control the advertisements, if such statements as he has read out are indeed as he has told your Lordships. Let me say that perhaps if he bought a television set which had the second channel and enabled him to receive Independent Television he might have a rather more balanced view of the whole picture and would not pick out particular points and then draw general conclusions from those particular points.


I might have got some more advertisements.


Just about in the same terms as they are in the newspapers, with the freedom of the Press.

As the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, said, this is an important debate. I would term it, with respect to those who are taking part, as something like a "Pilkington benefit" parade, in that we are all expressing views which the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack said would be welcomed, he felt sure, by those on the Pilkington Committee who are considering these questions.

The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, asked this question: "Is it to be a noble purpose or is it to be base?" And that question was replied to by the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, whose theme was "Monopoly or no monopoly, we must remove this wicked commercialism from television." His condemnation was in terms of severe stricture and, if he will allow me to say so (he is not in your Lordships' House at the present time), in terms of prejudice largely unsupported by fact. His condemnation of the dangers, it seems to me, is based upon a mistrust of people's wisdom and judgment of what they should themselves see. Indeed, his view was that there should be an authority—at one time he mentioned a Minister—to vet, to censor, what is seen on the screen.

I should like to remind the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, and your Lordships that we live, for better or worse, in a free society. We have freedom to read all sorts of newspapers, published with the profit motive in the end. We can read newspapers of the Left or the Right; we can read the serious and the sexy, and we can read editorial and fiction of every description, subject to broad laws of decency and blasphemy which we all support. We give in this free society some pretty big freedoms of choice. We give the freedom of choice of newspapers; we give tremendous freedom of choice in political elections—one man, one vote. The biggest moron in the country has the same power in the polling booth as the most intelligent citizen, except, of course, those of us here—but the most intelligent citizens outside your Lordships' Chamber. Politically we are all equal. George Orwell once said that All men are equal, but some are more equal than others. In the eyes of the political machine we are all equal. We can read what we like; we can vote how we like. Yet when it comes to the medium of television, the few superior minds claim the right to rule what the many shall see and claim that the public must be protected from their own weaknesses by the superior minds.

The noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, dealt with tie question of television, not only I.T.V. but the B.B.C. as well, and with what he called trial by television: the questioning of people on matters of public and current importance. And he seemed to think, if I got his point correctly, that that was dangerous. My Lords, I submit that no controversy is dangerous. Controversy is good; argument is fine. It is only by bringing to the surface all the different points of view that an intelligent public can gain some sort of balanced judgment.


My Lords, I do not want to interrupt the noble Lord, but I think, in fairness to my noble Leader, I should say that I do not think he was complaining about free discussion of political matters or others on television, but rather about the method in which these discussions were carried out—the sort of atmosphere, the interrogation of the individual. I think that is what he was complaining about. Certainly I know my noble Leader well enough to know that he welcomes free and frank discussion.


My Lords, the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition has just come in and we can leave the point at that, so long as we are agreed that on current events there are always likely to be different points of view. Some points of view we may take exception to, but that does not matter. All who speak on these matters should be free to express their opinion, even though it might embarrass Her Majesty's Government, or the Opposition, or the Government abroad—I do not mind. I like to see controversy; I like to see argument, and I like to see hard-hitting debate on the screen, as we have it in other forms of political life.

My Lords, in fact, the coming of Independent Television has raised both the number and the extent of serious programmes that are put before the public. I am not going to argue as to the density of watching as against the length of watching at the peak hours of the I.T.V. companies and the B.B.C. I do not think that is important. But there are just one or two highlights which I should particularly like to bring forward, in view of the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Manchester. I think the years of competition have seen an increase in the growth of serious television programmes.

The noble Earl, Lord Longford, in, if I may say so, his very fair and balanced speech when presenting his arguments, dealt with religious programmes. In 1955, B.B.C. Television was devoting to religion of all kinds about 30 minutes a week. The weekly total in the two services is eight times greater—a total of four hours, on average. In 1955, there was broadcast one church service a month: in 1960, there were six—four on Independent Television and two, on average, on the B.B.C. The point I am trying to make is that the competition has stimulated the B.B.C., and has improved all the time the I.T.A. In 1955, there was one news bulletin daily: to-day, there are four, two on each service, and, of course, there are "headline" bulletins at various times. In 1955, regional news bulletins, which are now so popular, were unknown. They were introduced by the Independent Television companies, and were later taken up by the B.B.C.

Then, my Lords, there are politics and public affairs. The increase in this field has been from one or two programmes a week with a running time of about one hour, to eight, with a running time of about three and a half hours. Then there are the arts and sciences. Programmes on the arts and sciences were an established part of television in 1955. The B.B.C. has not suffered at all from the introduction of I.T.V. in this direction, and I.T.V. has gained, in art, the Clarke, and, in history, the Taylor, lectures, "The Book Man", and, in popular science, "It Can Happen To-morrow". The noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, spoke about schools and the educational value of television. What he forgot to tell your Lordships was that the development of television programmes for schools has been entirely due to the years of competition. During twelve television years before competition, there was no educational work at all for the schools. In fact, schools programmes were introduced by Independent Television in 1957, and the B.B.C. took some up a few months later. I think your Lordships will agree that they are now a remarkable feature of British television, and they comprise 36 separate school periods a week, totalling 13½ hours over both services.

I give those points to your Lordships in support of my argument that the standard has been a gradually rising one as regards serious programmes. I should like, however, to remind your Lordships of the old saying, You can take a horse to the water, but you can't make him drink. You can put a programme on, but you cannot force people to watch. The other day, Television of Wales put on a period of opera. I happen to know that that cost no less than £4,000 to put on, and the whole network, all the provincial stations, had that opera on their programme. It cost £4,000—quite a lot of money. I regret to tell your Lordships that, although it was put on at a popular hour, the T.A.M. rating (to use a phrase which has been used in your Lordships' House this afternoon) showed the "all-low" record. Your Lordships may well say that it is a tragedy that that happens, but it would be no good any television company constantly putting on programmes that nobody would watch.


Would that not perhaps be because they have done so much to train the minds of those who watch these programmes to look more for the Western programmes, the thug programmes and the like; and, because such programmes appeal to the corrupt side of their nature, the people are hardened against watching the better ones?


To some extent I would not disagree with the noble Viscount. But the point I have just been making is that the serious programmes have been increasing, and I should like to say to the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, that, for both B.B.C. and I.T.V., the production of serious programmes is a gradual process of education, as is shown by the increasing numbers which are now being produced.

The trouble is, of course, that a tired man coming home from business in the evening does not always want culture and serious programmes, but he does want entertainment. It may be that the erudite brains of this country think he ought not to have entertainment but ought to have culture after his day's work. But what he wants to do is to sit back and see "Emergency—Ward 10", or perhaps some Western. The critics seem to think it is not good for folks to enjoy entertainment without a compensating dose of culture. That is, to some extent, good, but for goodness sake do not overdo the dose. I think that I.T.V. and B.B.C. are slowly building up, but if the views of some of the noble Lords who have spoken to-day were to prevail, and if entertaining television were done away with, as I think some noble Lords would like, you would not get an increase in the watching of serious programmes, but would probably get a total decrease in the watching of television.

In all these matters, as the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, said, what we want is a balanced programme, and I agree. It is just this power that the Independent Television Authority has under the Television Act. It has the power to see that there are balanced programmes. I admit straight away that, as the noble Earl, Lord Longford, said, the B.B.C. contribution to the moral side of our national life has been greater than that of Independent Television. But I would also say that the mission of the B.B.C. is a different one from the mission of Independent Television, which is essentially entertainment—and it should be clean entertainment and good entertainment, balanced with a proper proportion of serious programmes.

The B.B.C. mission is different. The B.B.C. can spurn commercialism; and one of the things which has always puzzled me—and I have not heard it answered in the debate to-day by any noble Lord speaking in support of the B.B.C.'s views—is this: if the B.B.C. mission is different, and if it has a higher purpose, why should it worry about the commercialism and the high listening content of Independent Television? Let it go its own fine way, to the admiration of all. Why should the B.B.C. feel it necessary to compete for the mass audience with entertainment if, at the same time, they are complaining that the I.T.V. has a big audience appeal with which they think they should be able to compete?


If the noble Lord is asking us to answer the question, it can, of course, be answered in a single sentence. There is always a danger of bad money driving out good. That is the argument. I am not at the moment trying to assess the merits of these various bodies; but that is, in fact, the argument, and, I am sure, it is a very familiar one to the noble Lord.


My Lords, yes. But I do not think it applies if, as other noble Lords have said, there is a yearning passion in the minds of the public for a greater amount of culture and serious programming than is opresented at the present time. They will turn away from the lighter entertainment. Noble Lords must remember that there is the freedom of the knob. Turn off if you like. Turn to whichever channel you like. That is a very real freedom which does exist, and one which I think we must not ignore.


My Lords, may I say that there is really no freedom of the knob in television as there is in sound broadcasting. At the moment, in sound, if you turn the knob round you can get three completely different programmes; but on television we have only two light programmes, each with a little seriousness in them—about which we do not argue. Our concern is that there should be a third alternative, one which is different from the other two.


All I can say to the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, is that there is no compulsion to look at television at all.


My Lords, why have television at all? There is a lot to be said for that view, but the noble Lord would be the poorer if he did not.


It is because many people like it. Some 66 per cent. of listeners like I.T.V. rather more than they like the B.B.C. Maybe they ought not to, but they like it and want what is being presented. But if the noble Lord does not like Independent Television, the way is open to him. If noble Lords do not like television programmes with advertisements they can switch to the B.B.C.; if they cannot switch to the B.B.C., they can switch off altogether. The noble Lord confesses that he has a television set which receives only the B.B.C. I suggest to him that he buys another set so that he can receive the Independent Television programmes; alternatively, I suggest that he arranges that a member of his family turns the set off at a given sign so that he is not afflicted with this terrible thing that he wants to see abolished.


My Lords, I have watched my friends' sets and I have decided that it was not worth buying a better set.


What a happy place it must be, his friend's house, when they are listening to I.T.V. and the noble Lord gives his views on some of the programmes!

There is only one other subject on which I would speak for a few moments, and I do so because the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack said that these views would be welcomed. The matter has been touched on by one or two noble Lords, and it concerns the objection (if it be an objection) to the connection of newspapers with television companies. The objection is valid, I think, if it can in fact be sustained on examination. I think that in this matter the flames of prejudice have rather been fanned by an unreasonable outcry, often by those perhaps not entirely disinterested. The objection seems to me to fall down if the allegation is not true that the connection advances the personal power of the proprietor. That seems to me the key question. If the dual position advances personal power, then the objection is valid.

I am going to submit to your Lordships that in fact it cannot do so, because a television station belongs to everyone. There is no such thing as I.T.V. editorial opinion. You cannot make propaganda on Independent Television. There has to be an attempt to get a common regard for all interests: a balance in politics; a balance in religion; a balance in the presentation of social problems and their remedies. Any station that tried to form an editorial view would be in instant trouble with the Authority. Indeed, there are very few, if any, complaints about any one station of the I.T.V. network being biased, either to the Left or to the Right. If it ever does happen, it is an error; and it is only human to err sometimes. But, broadly, there can be no question of editorial policy, because the matter has to be balanced in the way I have indicated. Indeed, sometimes it is almost dull, it is so impersonal.

The B.B.C.'s position is broadly the same, but the B.B.C. lays itself open rather more frequently to charges of bias. I do not support those charges, but the B.B.C. is somewhat freer editorially than the Independent Television companies. Let me say at once that my colleague, the Chairman of Scottish Television Limited, Mr. Roy Thomson, has no more authority than any one of your Lordships to get any other view on the air. Suppose, for example, the company take an interest in cancer research and feel that there should be an appeal for cancer research. He has no power or authority to compel a station to put it on; it has to go through the independent advisory committee on appeals, in the same way as there is an independent advisory committee on religion and on education. Therefore I hope I have made the point to your Lordships that personal power is not, and cannot be, advanced by this connection.


My Lords, I am very interested in this argument. But would not the noble Lord relate that to takeover bids? Is it not being argued that the pretty heavy share of these growing profits in I.T.V. where newspapers are concerned enables them to be a bigger financial power in making take-over bids, and that we are gradually losing the diversity of editorial control by newspaper ownership?


My Lords, I do not want to deal with the financial aspect of take-over bids. The point I am really concentrating on is that the presentation of news to the public can be biased by the major shareholder. I have tried to show—and I will not repeat my argument—first, that there can be no editorial policy, because the whole matter must be balanced; and secondly, that no individual has any power to ask for any particular subject matter to be put on the air.

The second objection is, I believe, also not valid, and it is this. Why should newspapers allied to television be considered worse than show business allied to television? I think both businesses are perfectly at liberty to be allied to television and, indeed, both can contribute a great deal. If newspapers invested in the steel industry, there would be no great public outcry. No one would object. Similarly, I cannot see that it is wrong for newspapers to go into television if they can improve their business. As I reminded your Lordships at the beginning of my remarks, the Scottish Television franchise was obtained by Mr. Thomson because at the time no one else wanted it and because the Independent Television Authority knew that he was a man who had the financial resources to take the expected losses. No one would touch it at the time.

Far from objecting, I believe that, for some provincial stations, connection with the Press is often a tremendous advantage, and indeed almost essential. As we all know, national news is controlled by a central news company, the Independent Television News, to which all companies belong. But as regards local news and local features, much inferior news would be presented if the television stations had not the experience and the staff of the local newspapers at their disposal. It would not be possible for these provincial stations to employ a full and experienced newspaper staff. Therefore the combination of the provincial Press and the station is, I believe, not to be decried but praised, and I think the Independent Television Authority were right to foster the connection in the provincial areas.

Your Lordships have been very kind and considerate in listening to the views of one who speaks rather in isolation as compared to the views expressed by other noble Lords this afternoon, but a debate such as this, when we all speak frankly about what are our firm beliefs, can do only good. I believe that Independent Television has its faults, just like the B.B.C., but its spur of competition, its value in entertainment and its growing value in more serious aspects of national life, are something worth while, and will be taken into clue consideration by the Pilkington Committee when they come to consider these matters and bring forward their findings.

7.0 p.m.


My Lords, after several notable speeches, in which most of the points I Thad prepared were mentioned, I was tempted to withdraw my name from the list of speakers, but more recent speeches have provoked me. So I have thrown away my set speech in order to make a few comments.

The first comment I would make is that although there have been few speeches kind to the I.T.A., except that from the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, I want to speak of them as one who opposed commercial television in principle and not yet reconciled to it and who, having found that we had commercial television, was very anxious to watch its behaviour. In so far as my opinions are worth anything, I would say that it has proved much better than many of us expected—indeed, better than I had assumed would be possible, with the temptations that confront it. After all, it is a money-making concern, and the big temptation is to go for big money by getting the biggest audience you can, whatever the programme may be.

Of course, they are hindered by the regulations. I do not say that their programmes would be much worse if those regulations were withdrawn, but in fairness to them their programmes have not deteriorated as much as I should have expected from the temptations that confront them. Having said that about the I.T.A. in general, I want also to say that they have produced some very good programmes and, though under no obligation, have given a reasonable time to religious programmes. Just as some people say that there are those who use religion for the purpose of respectability, it might be said that the I.T.A. give time to religious broadcasting in order to keep themselves on the same level as the B.B.C. But I would not agree with this view.

I have said that, in fairness and in kindness to the men who took grave risks and are now earning far more than they ought to earn. Let me go on to criticise some of the points that have been made. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, began his speech by paying tribute to freedom and by claiming, to use his own words, that we are free to write what we like, and free to vote as we like. I would remind him, however, that a few years ago, when the question of opposing commercial television was before Parliament, Members of Parliament were not free to vote. The Whips were put on, and freedom was not then exercised, in accordance with what we should expect, in considering a report giving information to the nation. The noble Lord asked why the B.B.C. should worry if the viewing public of I.T.A. is so much greater than their own and says if there is a yearning passion in men's minds for culture, let them seek it from the B.B.C. I would reply that sometimes there is a yearning passion in men's minds to make money out of human weaknesses, and there is a terrible temptation.

Having said these kind words about the I.T.A., having given them credit for maintaining a reasonable standard ad mist great temptation and having expressed thanks to the I.T.A. for the time they give religious broadcasts and devote to educational broadcasts, I would say this. If those of us who are crying out for good programmes are to be urged to define what we mean, I would say that we do not mean, by "good programmes", just serious programmes. We mean programmes where the entertainment is good; where the whole quality is good; where there are few things that leave a nasty taste in the mouth, and where parents are not afraid to allow their children to sit up and watch. There is a wide concern among serious-minded parents over the programmes that are coming into their homes. While I do not want to attribute that to the I.T.A., I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Longford, that, instead of an improvement in the programmes in the last year, there has been something of a deterioration. There is creeping in a coarseness and crudity which is not worthy of a great institution or worthy of our people. I hope that in saying this here, in a kindly way, note will be taken of it by those, not only in the B.B.C. but also in the I.T.A., who are seriously concerned with the well-being pf the people of this country.

I want to say a word about religious programmes. I would express my own opinion that the religious programmes shown by the I.T.A. in recent times have been better than those of the B.B.C. They seem to me to be more adventurous, more alive, and to make a greater impact on viewers: and they are really of more value to the people who are outside religion than those of the B.B.C. I say that with sincerity, because I should like those who are responsible for I.T.A. religious television to know that their efforts are being appreciated. I do not know that I would agree with the noble Earl, Lord Longford, that we need more time. He counted 1 hour 57 minutes devoted by I.T.A. to religious broadcasting; but part of one of the periods is composed of a good deal of rock-and-roll. Whether the noble Earl is able to regard that as a religious programme or not, I do not know. He might be able to express some of his religious enthusiasm in such an activity, and I should not altogether blame him if he allowed the joy of his religion to express itself now and then in a little jubilation and dancing. But the point is that I do not plead for more time from either for religious broadcast; I plead for a little better quality and a little more aliveness in its presentation.


My Lords, may I ask the right reverend Prelate a question? Since the B.B.C. put on a service one Sunday in two, why should they not put one on every Sunday, as the I.T.A. do?


I cannot answer that; I really do not know. I am not going to object to it, and if they feel that they can do so, I shall be very pleased. But, as I say, I am not complaining about the amount of time that is devoted by either of them to religious broadcasts; what I am complaining about is that they are probably not making the most effective use of the time devoted to them.

Having made those comments, I want to express my mind on what is one of the big points in this debate: namely, if broadcasting is increased, how it is to be done and under whose control. I do not feel that there is any need for a new channel that is just a replica of existing ones, with programmes much the same. I doubt very much if there are the artistes and qualified people to produce such programmes. I believe there is a need for a third channel, but I should like it set up in such a way that one of its great aims would be to serve minorities—people who are interested in various forms of culture, sport, hobbies and all sorts of things—and to devote a certain amount of its time to those questions that young people ask when they grow up and are thinking of establishing homes of their own. All sorts of minorities should be catered for by some agency that would have no other object than trying to serve them. If such a channel is to do that kind of thing, it certainly cannot be done by any commercial company, because a commercial company, in the nature of things, is not concerned with minorities; it is out after the majority. Consequently, my plea would be that, if that channel is to be opened up, then it should be entrusted to some agency which is not money-making in itself and which will serve directly the interests of minorities.

With that plea, and a plea for an increase in local radio broadcasting, I would conclude. Local radio broadcasting itself needs to be encouraged. I get a little afraid sometimes that we are all becoming ironed out too much in one pattern. I am one who is keen on promoting local loyalties and districts maintaining their own peculiarities, and I should like to see the development of local broadcasting with a great many of the artistes drawn from the community in which the programme is to be broadcast. And that, I believe, can be done effectively only if it is entrusted to the B.B.C., who are already working through regions and could easily develop that into smaller areas.

7.14 p.m.


My Lords, I suppose I should declare an interest in this matter, because I occasionally make a small augmentation to my income by working both for the B.B.C. and for certain programme companies. I was also for 6½ years a Governor of the B.B.C. This interest, however, does not reach quite so far as your Lordships might be tempted to suppose if you relied upon slightly out-of-date editions of some of our reference books, for if you were to look in an edition of Who's Who for a year or two back you would find the astonishing piece of information that I had been a Governor of the B.B.C. since the year 1590. When the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack said this afternoon, by inadvertence, that he had been the main architect of the Television Act of "94", I began to wonder whether it might not be true that my interest was, at least in time, more far reaching than I had supposed, and that our association was of far longer standing than I had realised.

I must endorse all that has been said about the achievements of the B.B.C. as a public service. I suppose that we owe the B.B.C., as we owe most valuable institutions (such as what used to be the British Empire) to a fit of absence of mind and a happy accident. The B.B.C. originated in the co-existence of a favourable environment and a very remarkable personality; and the star of that personality, the noble Lord, Lord Reith, still remains, although it is becoming, and perhaps rightly so, a little blurred with the passage of time. Nevertheless, we must, I think, recognise that by this happy accident we have provided ourselves with an institution which has given the people of this country a level of public information such as hardly any people, and probably no people, has ever enjoyed before.

I am sure it may be said that in the period of monopoly the B.B.C. developed some of the characteristic vices of monopoly—that I, for one, would not dispute—and one of those vices of monopoly is that it fosters the belief that monopoly is not a vice. I am prepared to recognise that the B.B.C. was guilty at times of that vice also. But sometimes one has to make choices in which one cannot get perfection, and sometimes monopoly, or near monopoly, is to be preferred to certain forms of competition. I recall that on my first visit many years ago to the city of San Francisco there were then two competing tramway companies which ran tramway services in the same streets—such was the devotion at that time of the American people to the principle of free competition. That experiment, however, was too wasteful to be continued. And it may be that we have here one of the cases where competition needs to be closely safeguarded, if, indeed, it can be permitted at all.

I would say, with regret, that I think the B.B.C. has deteriorated rather in accordance with Gresham's Law since the time that it set out to compete with what are known as the Independent Television companies. I do not mean to say that there has been a decline in the number of what are called serious programmes: in fact, I very much regret the tendency which has been shown in the House this afternoon to draw these rigid distinctions—and I think the B.B.C. are wrong to have encouraged them—between levels of brow and levels of programme, between the serious and the entertainment. I have every sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye—or rather with those who did not listen to his programme—that he found that an all-time low rating was credited to a performance of opera. I dare say it was bad opera; it may even have been good opera.




I do not like opera, and I am very glad that I did not have to listen to it. Nor do I propose to cross swords with my noble friend Lord Longford as to the appropriate amount or quality of religious television. Far be it from me to engage in controversy with him as to the distinction between "rock and roll secular" and "rock and roll religious". No doubt he is an expert in the one and I, alas! cannot claim to be an expert in either.

I should like to revert, if I may, to some of the things—though I cannot improve upon them—that my noble friend Lord Taylor said about television advertising. Some of them he said long ago, in that admirable note appended to the Beveridge Committee, to which he referred with such just and reasonable pride in his speech this afternoon. Television advertising, from the point of view of advertising, is, in the first place, unnecessary. There are plenty of places where people can advertise if they want their goods to be known. Television advertising is also intrusive. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, seemed to justify it on the ground that after all we have advertising elsewhere, and that, just as we need not read the advertisements in the newspapers, we need not look at television advertising. But it is not quite the same thing. If I do not want to read the newspaper advertising, I do not read it. But I am obliged to keep my eye on the television advertising in order to see when my programme comes back. I can turn off the sound, in which case the advertising looks sillier than ever. But I still must keep the picture, otherwise I miss the next act of the play.

Television advertising, my Lords—let us be frank—is imbecile in presentation. I say this not as my noble friend Lord Taylor, as one who depends upon the courtesy of his neighbours to see it, but as one who has a set which receives both Independent Television and the B.B.C. in my own home. I think the I.T.A. in their Annual Report protest a little too much at the improvement as they say in the standards of advertising. Their Report on this reads to me as very much on the defensive. They speak of the reduction in noise and the reduction in stridency, and they say it is clear to the Authority that further substantial improvements in presentation would be possible. My Lords, what a masterpiece of understatement! Advertising of this kind is not only misleading, as my noble friend Lord Taylor showed, but, as he said in this famous note of eleven years ago, it degrades the programmes that accompany it. I do not mean that because the advertiser controls the programme, but because for specified breaks, amounting to no less than 10 per cent. of the time, All pretence of objectivity and impartiality is cast aside"— to quote my noble friend's note.

The independent Television Authority (and, by the way, why is it called "Independent"?—independent of what?) congratulates itself that in many thousands of advertisements only about half a dozen have been challenged. That is not very surprising, and not only for the reasons that the I.T.A. gives—namely, the remarkable checks which my noble friend described. It is not very surprising, because advertisements are generally extremely noncommittal. I would add only one further example to the many which my noble friend Lord Taylor quoted, and this is not for patent medicine. This is an advertisement for an innocuous—and I am sure it is—soft drink, advertised against a background of snowy mountains and said to contain lacto-serum, biologically treated by a Swiss process; pure sugar; to come sparkling from Switzerland; to contain sucrose, which means sugar; and natural lactose, which means milk; and which helps children to digest and get more benefit from every meal. This product consists as to 91 per cent. of water, and its nutritional value is about the same as that of a glass of milk, which would cost one-third of the price.

Have your Lordships ever thought, if we are so little disturbed by television advertising, of the value of this medium as a means of advertising the Proceedings in your Lordships' House, which ought perhaps to be better appreciated by the general public than they are? Why do we not have an advertising jingle to "sell" your Lordships' House to the television viewers?

Throw away your gutter press, Their Lordships' wisdom costs you less. Buy Hansard verbatim, fresh every day. Hansard for Grandad, Hansard for Mother, Hansard for your kid sister. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, apparently thinks that the lies repeated by my noble friend Lord Taylor—and only lies can they be called—do not matter because the British public is so discerning that it can see through them.


My Lords, I never said any such thing.


I am glad to be contradicted, because I felt that I must have misunderstood the noble Lord's argument.


My Lords, I think the noble Lord said that it did not matter because you can read them in the newspapers, too.


What I really said was that I deplored any exaggerations and lies, and, secondly, that I did not see that the sin was any greater in television than the sin in the newspapers. That is all.


I thank the noble Lord for his correction. He did in fact use the word "mistrust" of the public. As I understood him—though perhaps not correctly —he was contending that in showing up, shall I say, the foolishness of these advertisements, we are expressing a mistrust of the capacity of the British public. But I am glad to know that so weak a defence is not put forward.

May I say a word on the subject which was raised earlier in the debate by the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, and which the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack developed later in his speech, namely, the subject of violence? In the times of Queen Elizabeth I it would, I suppose, have been a common experience to encounter violence in one's everyday life; and in so far as entertainment mirrored the realities of life, violence was to be expected and, indeed, was seen abundantly upon the stage. But this is not the reign of Elizabeth I; this is the reign of Elizabeth II. It is possible to-day—I should have thought it was normal—for a moderately civilised person to go through life, major wars apart, without ever encountering scenes of deliberate violence or, at any rate, encountering them only on the rarest occasions, once or twice in a lifetime. Therefore I am puzzled at the continuous and steady presentation of violence upon the television screens. At the time of Dr. Himmelweit's inquiry into children's television in 1958, on the B.B.C. and I.T.V. in the hours when children might be expected to be viewing, eighteen plays in which violence might normally be expected to occur were seen in a single week.

Two years later there is very little difference. In a week of January last year there were still 17 programmes between 5 and 9 o'clock in which violence was portrayed. I was puzzled by the argument of the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack on this point, and I much regret that he is not here to expound it, so that I might understand it better. The noble and learned Viscount spoke of a vacuum in existence for young people; and, as I understood it, he meant unless 'they were shown the dangers of life on the television screen they would grow up in an unreal world. I find it hard to believe that the noble and learned Viscount has an existence so empty that he thinks it necessary to fill it with pugilistic and bloodthirsty displays. Perhaps this point may be made to him so that he will be good enough to make clear his view on this at a later stage.

The B.B.C. has some rules about violence, and very interesting and very fine and sophistical are the distinctions they draw. They draw, for instance, the distinction between brutality, which they say is not healthy, and combat, meaning physical combat, which they say, or imply, is healthy; and brutality, they suggest, is the most difficult category. Why difficult? Surely in this day and age we know that brutality is brutality. Is it difficult to identify? They say, too, that scenes of violence are permissible provided that they are not shown close to, and that you do not see the actual results. You must not hear skulls cracking; you must not see blood streaming from wounds. But you can see nice little fights or a nice big fight in the distance. Surely this is part of a most dangerous doctrine. Surely it would be better, if we are going to show violence, to show it as it really is, and let people know that when you do fight bones are broken, and that when broken sufficiently forcibly they break with a crack that can be heard.

I think it is interestine that when the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, who spoke so feelingly about this matter, presided over his Committee, this question of violence appeared to play virtually no part in the Committee's deliberations. I am disposed to infer from that that there has been a very serious change, because now crime pictures and pictures of violence rank very high, both in quantity and in the audience which they command. Yet the Beveridge Committee did not even think it necessary to make a separate category for television plays or other features in which violence occurred.

My Lords, I should like to say one word on one other topic, and that is the topic of controversy. I think we should remember that the B.B.C. took two very brave steps about controversy. We are now so used to political controversy that it is hard to believe it was not until 1928 that political controversy was permitted on the air. The second and even braver step was taken in 1947, when religious controversy (meaning controversy relating to the fundamentals of religion) was first permitted to be heard over the B.B.C. In the last General Election I think that both the B.B.C. and 'the Independent Television companies took a courageous attitude to the rather absurd restrictions that are placed upon them, or might be placed upon them, by certain constructions of the Representation of the People Act.

But I am not sure that the time has not come when a great deal of fundamental thinking needs to be done about controversy on the air. Controversy has now become hedged about with a set of rather rigid and rather automatic rules, and perhaps the next bold step forward has to he one of a fundamental character, the most important part of which will be to make distinctions between different kinds of controversy. There is controversy about matters of fact or matters as to which the conclusion must rest upon the factual evidence, and opinions will differ on those issues so long as the evidence is not conclusive. But opinions that are not based upon the evidence are of no value at all. There is controversy on matters of faith, and those are not dependent on scientific evidence of the same kind as applies to controversy that depends upon matters of fact. And on those opinions will differ because of people's religious outlook and their general philosophical position. And there are sometimes controversies that most people suppose are closed, like the controversy about the flat earth.

In the controversies that we have on the air to-day I think insufficient distinction is made between those different types of disagreement. Sometimes we have people airing opinions on which factual evidence is necessary but on which they have no factual evidence at their command. Sometimes we have rather and controversies between people who start from completely opposed premises; and sometimes we have discussions on matters which every reasonable person should consider closed. It is a delicate matter to decide when an issue stops being an issue on which we may all have opinions and becomes one on which the evidence is conclusive. As those who try to inform themselves in your Lordships' House are well aware, the art of discussing controversial matters with both spontaneity and accuracy is not easily to be acquired.

Be those matters as they may, the fact remains that in the discovery of broadcasting we have a unique and astonishing instrument, an instrument which enables President Kennedy in the United States, and the Prime Minister, in this country, to enjoy a relationship with their constituents which has not been granted to any man since the days of Pericles, when he could address his whole community in the City of Athens. I, for my part, still find it incredible that we should allow this unique and marvellous instrument to be financed by peddling to the more gullible members of the public the kind of muck which the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, so eloquently described.

7.38 p.m.


My Lords, one of the fascinations about this debate to me has been that the whole scope is so wide that there is a place for each speaker to speak almost in isolation from what has been said by other speakers. I think we have had some hard thinking and some clear speaking, and we have also had some entertainment. That is, in the nature of this debate, rather appropriate. We have had what one might describe as a balanced programme. For myself, I find that I have to go back to what the noble Lord, Lord Strang, had to say before I find anything in common with other speakers; and in fact I am confining myself for one moment to one isolated aspect of this subject; that is, the propagation of international affairs, whether the medium be television or sound, whether it be the B.B.C. or the I.T.A. In fact the particular points which I have in mind concern lapses, as I see them, affecting the B.B.C. It might have been I.T.V. In any case, it is rather a principle on which I want assurance than the needs of any particular case. Before I conclude I shall hope to have set out the principle for recognition. Meanwhile, I should like both to illustrate that principle and support it with perhaps two examples.

The first example concerns B.B.C. television. On January 30 last, in the programme "Your Window on the World" there was a dialogue between Mr. Robert Kee and Mr. Richard Cross-man on the subject of Krupp, and in particular Alfried von Bohlen, who is head of Krupp. Mr. Kee opened with this sentence: Take a good look at this man, at the passively calculating eyes, that cultivated balanced guile, and decide if you can trust him. There was then presented a photograph of Herr von Bohlen which was almost unrecognizable—I believe it was taken after he came out of prison, when one is not looking one's best. But that opening sentence set the tone for the whole of the rest of the programme. If am not arguing whether von Bohlen is or is not the villain which he was depicted to be by Mr. Kee. I say only this; that it was neither a fair nor a true presentation of his physical appearance, and that there was the subsequent reflection on his character which, even on his physical appearance, was entirely superficial.

Now this is my point. To-day, with "mushroom" States of false and microscopic importance, our relations can be placed within an international context and can be, and are, exploited against us by people who have no good intentions whatsoever so far as we are concerned. How infinitely greater, then, is the potential power either to damage or to consolidate the future relationship when it is not just a distant patch on the map that is concerned, but a great Power, and a neighbour and an ally in the Atlantic Alliance. I submit that involved in this kind of thing is the safety of the Atlantic Alliance.

At the end of 1926, when the B.B.C. received their Charter as a Corporation, the Postmaster General of the day said: While I am prepared to take responsibility in broad issues of policy, on minor issues … and matters of day-to-day control I want to leave things to the free judgment of the Corporation. That has been endorsed as a policy by subsequent Ministers over the years. It is this question of the free judgment of the B.B.C. in this one particular aspect of their work about which I am not entirely happy. To-day, foreign affairs have a very different look from what they had in the circumstances of former days—in the days when purely national interests and the relationship between one nation and another nation governed the situation. Now far graver issues are involved. To my mind, the programme I have quoted poses the question as to whether the present form of a kind of gentlemen's agreement between the Foreign Office and the B.B.C.—a kind of "old school tie" arrangement—is sufficient to measure up to the needs of our modern situation. In the particular case I have quoted, whatever the legal aspect may be, this particular question is, in a large sense, political dynamite. The B.B.C. should have known this and should have recognised the potential damage to the Atlantic Alliance. And if they were to handle it at all, they should have handled it, I submit, in quite a different way. We expect this kind of thing from the Daily Express, but not from the B.B.C.

Before I come to the principle which I want to elaborate, I want to quote one other matter. This concerns the external services—broadcasting to nations abroad, as opposed to broadcasting to our own people. I should be the first to admit that the Overseas Services of the B.B.C. have operated as a great ambassador. I would fully support the noble Lord, Lord Strang, in his plea for more funds to be placed at their disposal in measuring up to their challenge. But surely the task of a broadcasting service is to project the British view and interpretation of political events all over the world, whether or not it is acceptable at the receiving end. For example, I submit that it is better to continue to project our own honest view to countries behind the Iron Curtain and be jammed for our trouble, than to have the jamming relaxed at the expense of presenting views which may be innocuous but are not representative.

Just over a year ago there was a good deal of comment about the tone of the Yugoslav service of the B.B.C. There was a feeling—and, so far as I can see, there were grounds for justification for this feeling—that material which made unpleasant listening for the Yugoslav Government was being withheld. Without going into details, I may say that there was evidence that the British view of the whole case of Miloran Djilas was deliberately being misrepresented by the Yugoslav section in their transmissions. As I see it, it could hardly be otherwise, because the personnel in the service are Yugoslav citizens.

Here we have what seems to me a potentially fantastic situation. No national of a country remotely associated with the ideological issue could possibly present a British view of the international scene, and I should hope that this is now fully appreciated, not only in relation to Yugoslavia, which I have quoted, but to the whole range of our broadcasting to Eastern Europe. One realises that in the case of Yugoslavia, the Government has a slightly different look from that of the Governments to its North and to its East. But for us the task remains the same—to project our view of the political scene, whether or not it is liked at the other end. A recognition of this excludes the possibility in this country of other countries placing their own personnel within the B.B.C. service. That may sound quite impossible, but there is evidence that it has happened. Stranger things have happened, and in any case I welcome the chance to spell that out in a debate.


My Lords, if I may interrupt the noble Lord, what does he propose? How is he suggesting that these services should be staffed? Is it by providing a completely expatriate or refugee staff? Is he content with that, or what does he want?


I think I should be quite content with Yugoslav-speaking Englishmen, rather than have a man who is a risk but who is a Yugoslav; and that would apply to the other services as well.

At this stage, I think I can spell out the principle. It is that I hope and believe that gradually we are coming to learn the lesson that, in this clash of ideologies, we just cannot afford to play the game according to normal rules—and when I say "normal rules" I mean the rules which pertain when normal States are in normal disagreement. In this natural and justifiable pride that the B.B.C. take in impartiality, I would ask them whether they are really studying the psychology of their own belief in the projection of the international scene, by a slant given to an interview, by a sudden note of pessimism introduced, or by undue prominence suddenly given to an inflated puppet leader from an obscure country who has obsessions about Western imperialism.

All these kinds of things—righteous indignation at the murder of Lumumba, and no indignation whatsoever when it is a case of a murder and of rape, say, of a Belgian nun—represent an attitude of mind and have a cumulative effect on the public mind. In this matter, I submit that the B.B.C. is in a different position from that of the Press. When you have an irresponsibility in one newspaper, it can be offset by responsibility in another newspaper. That does not apply to such services as the B.B.C. external services. There, then, is the danger, as I see it, of an impartiality which, in itself, may be completely admirable. I would therefore ask the question whether the Foreign Office and the B.B.C. between them have not now to devise some modifications of the arrangements, if they are to measure up to a situation which was certainly not recognised when the B.B.C. received its Charter in 1926.

I have only one further comment to add of concern to television services, Whatever they may—B.B.C. or Independent. Some months ago we had the interesting debate, initiated by Lord Bessborough and to which the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, referred, concerning television and its application to education; and to-day my mind turns to the imaginative and exciting opportunities. I am not concerned with education in schools but with the role that this service can play in educating us all to an understanding of world affairs. Suppose, for example, that it were possible to mount a panel of four speakers, two speakers, shall we say, from this country, or one speaker from this country and one from France, and two speakers, say, from the Soviet Union. Suppose it were possible to mount that kind of programme on an international network. It would need immense preparation and would assume the co-operation of the Communists. But if we could bring this international struggle of minds on to the television screen in front of an international audience, an audience on both sides, I would suggest that the T.V. services could then really be said to be matching their skill and imagination to the needs of the world situation. That. at least, is something for the experts to think about. If it could be pulled off in my time, I should feel that there was little criticism left for me to make about a medium of influence in entertainment which I, with many, still regard as an extremely fascinating time killer.

7.53 p.m.


My Lords, after nearly six hours the fifteenth speaker can scarcely be optimistic enough to persuade himself that he is taking part in a debate, and the only possible reason for speaking, in my view, is the hope engendered in our breasts by the noble and learned Viscount that, in addition to the mountain of paper with which they are already assailed, the Pilkington Committee may read something of what we say. Therefore I propose to make three points as quickly as possible.

The first point concerns advertising, about which we have already heard a great deal, and I do not propose to add any more examples of the banal, the misleading, the boring or the utterly dishonest which have already been dealt with so forcefully by my noble friends Lady Wootton of Abinger and the noble Lord, Lord Taylor. In my view, they infringe the Act with impunity. But the I.T.A.'s greatest crime with regard to advertisements, in my opinion, is to permit the intrusion of any advertising at all in the middle of certain programmes.

There was a grave example of this last week in the programme on Eichmann. Before it started, we were told it would be harrowing; and indeed it was. There were scenes of starved, skeleton bodies being loaded on to handcarts, naked, starved corpses being flung willy-nilly into open graves, and then, after all that, there appeared on the screen "End of Part 1". This was a very serious programme which was well done; but the advertisements immediately following "End of Part 1" were for porridge oats, luscious steak and kidney pie, luscious toffees, two more food advertisements and a beauty preparation. There was nothing at all wrong with any of the advertisements as such—nothing of the kind of which my noble friend, Lord Taylor, was complaining. My complaint is that they were there at all. Anyone, who could allow such an intrusion into a programme of that kind, must be utterly devoid of any feeling whatsoever, and utterly devoid of any concern for the public. In the middle of that programme the effect was sickening, almost blasphemous.

My noble friend, Lord Longford, was discussing earlier in the debate the length of time which I.T.V. and the B.B.C. allow for serious programmes. I wonder whether in the I.T.V. calculations they include advertisements. In any case, that particular programme could not be considered as serious by anyone, because it was utterly destroyed by the advertisements. On this point, I would invite the Pilkington Committee, if they need any additional evidence of the effect of advertisements, to see that programme whole, from start to finish, including the middle bit, and they will then be able to judge. I would say that this kind of thing is conclusive evidence against the faintest possiblity of awarding a third T.V. programme to any kind of commercial organisation which would have to depend on advertising. Inevitably it would be a duplicate of the present one, because at peak viewing hours they must put on a programme which guarantees the advertiser a mass audience; and surely one such programme is enough.

The second point I want to make is in respect to sound broadcasting, which has been touched on briefly by the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, and by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Carlisle. I share the view expressed by the Congregational Union to the Pilkington Committee that the evidence in favour of the B.B.C. retaining its monopoly is overwhelming, and I do not, as it were, shy—as I think to some extent the noble Viscount, Lord Rochdale, did—at the word "monopoly" in this particular context. Big as it is, it is still a monopoly, but it is all right and it is the only possible way, I think, of handling this particular problem. It is particularly necessary in connection with local radio, and it is very regrettable, in my view—because the B.B.C. is ready to start now; it has its programmes ready—that the Postmaster General should have regarded this as a major innovation which must await the Pilkington Report. My noble friend, Lord Shepherd, made a plea for an Interim Report on certain items, but I should have thought that this was one particular item on which we could hope to have the view of the Pilkington Committee, because the B.B.C. is absolutely ready now.

There is a tendency for sound radio perhaps to recede in the public mind, certainly to recede in its advertising; but, properly developed, it still has a great part to play. After all, nearly half the population still listen in at some time of the day and, even at peak periods of televiewing, some 2 million people are listening in. They are a most important minority whose differing tastes can be catered for only if the B.B.C. are still able to offer a choice of three programmes, with, I hope, the possibility of a fourth choice from local broadcasting. The chance of that fourth choice is, in my view, endangered because there are people waiting to make a great deal of money out of commercial "steam" radio.

I was myself given some idea of these hopes a few months ago when, through a friend in the entertainment world, I was asked to join a group of people and assist them, when the time came, to obtain licences for broadcasting stations. The rate was 25 per cent. of the profits, not for myself, of course—they were far too subtle for that—but for a charitable organisation with which I am connected. They were virtually ready to pay a large bribe of that kind in the belief that it would help them to get "in" on this great money-making thing which they believe is to be thrown into their hands.

It may be argued that there is nothing wrong in profit. But there is a very great deal wrong if, for the sake of that profit, we destroy the people's chance of enjoyment of such a desirable amenity as really live and progressive local broadcasting. And that would happen if the financial "sharks" were able to get their teeth into what they think is going to be a very good thing. I hope that the B.13.C. will be allowed to develop their plans for V.H.F. broadcasting. One home in five already has a V.H.F. receiving set, and this proportion would be speedily increased if plans went ahead. The B.B.C. plan to provide, in the first five years, some 80 or 90 local stations, each serving an area with a radius of from three to five miles; and subsequently the programme could be extended so as to cover, with a local station all the 200-odd towns we have with a population of over 50,000.

The capital cost of each such station would be only about £20,000. and with a staff of 12 each station could be run for something like £30,000 a year—just pennies compared with the cost of television as a whole. In each town there would be a station manager who would know his audience and be free to plan a programme suited to the kind of community in which lie lives—and that is very necessary, because good broadcasting grows out of the life around it. There would be regular bulletins of local news, with a local information service about sport, weather, traffic problems, shopping and social activities; and also, of course, local church services, and programmes for hospital patients, and for young people. It would be, in short, a local broadcasting service which is friendly and reliable, in touch with people's lives; informing them about what their neighbours are doing and discussing, impartially, those questions, including local politics, which, coming close to home, usually arouse strong interest and strong feeling.

No commercial company, however well-intentioned, could provide such a service, because purely local items would not occupy more than two or three hours of broadcasting each day, and the station manager would have to fill out his programme with supporting programme material which he could select from any B.B.C. programme without cost. To a commercial company the cost of the supporting, programmes would be very high, and therefore many commercial stations would need to combine together to pool the cost and also to be able to guarantee to advertisers a sufficient number of listeners at particular times. Otherwise, of course, they would not get advertising at remunerative rates and make their profit. The outcome of that would be a network with no choice of programmes. True, there would be some local items but not, as would be the case with the B.B.C., at peak listening hours, or, indeed, at those times best suited to a particular type of audience. With a commercial station the broadcasting of local items would be at off-peak hours, when the advertiser did not want to advertise.

If the B.B.C. sound monopoly is preserved, and they are allowed to implement their plans, we shall have a fourth service with the fullest measure of local independence adding usefully in its own sphere to what is already provided in the other three services. I would submit that this is surely an objective which people of all shades of opinion will support. I hope that the Pilkington Committee will look at this question early, because if they make recommendations to the Government and the Government say "Yes", a start can be made on it within twelve month's.

The other point on which I want to say a few words is in connection with children and television. My noble friend Lady Wootton of Abinger has already dealt with this and has criticised the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. for their timidity with regard to brutality. This, of course, is an extremely difficult subject, and one must have regard to the fact that children do not react in the same way to some things us do adults. I personally do not think the Western programme, in the costume of 100 years ago, is any more harmful to children than the little pistol-caps which eight year old boys go about with saying "Bang, bang!" Violence becomes difficult when it is contemporary; and, therefore, scenes with coshes or weapons that can be made easily, are dangerous to children, whereas the use of revolvers which they cannot obtain easily, is not nearly so harmful.

But the most brutal and degrading thing shown on the television screen that I have seen (and I think this applies only to I.T.V.) is all-in wrestling. Last Saturday I saw it on the screen, and when one views it in that way one looks across the ring and can see several rows of people in the audience. On the odd occasions when I have seen it there are always quite a number of women in the audience; but above all, there are a large number of very vocal little boys, who, certainly last week, were calling out "We want blood!" They could not have been more than about 12 years of age. I do not want to be unduly critical of the performers. They were very husky men, agile acrobats, and their acrobatics were quite entertaining. I am informed that they do not get hurt, though I rather doubt that, because they fall so heavily. They certainly grunt and groan loudly, almost tearfully at times; and I suppose the louder the groans, the more enjoyable it becomes. I believe that that kind of show really is pandering to a kind of degrading sadism when it is shown on a television screen; and that is far more impressive to me, and in my view far more objectionable, so far as children are concerned, than all the Western type of television drama, other than the brutal kind of things which they see in contemporary costume, like some detective programme, where brutality is introduced, as it were, gratuitously.

But this is a subject (and I know this applies to me) where we are all experts and no one really has any knowledge of the effect of television on children. It is true that the B.B.C. have recently set up an Audience Research Department and have taken a most important step towards filling the gap in their knowledge by measuring the extent to which children are viewing programmes. But that will show only whether children like a programme or not. It will not show whether or not any good or ill is done. That is where we want research, and I think it is a big field where we need some help and advice from voluntary research workers.

I do not agree with the O'Conor Committee that the whole of the 6 o'clock to 9 o'clock period should be of programmes considered suitable for children only. That destroys the universality of television at the time when adults are viewing; and sometimes some of these programmes are quite good or useful for children, even when they do not wholly understand them. It is quite wrong to place either on the B.B.C. or on the I.T.A. the whole of the responsibility in this matter. Of course, parents have a responsibility, and they should exercise it and should not expect either a Government Department or a commercial company to do their job for them. The only thing we have a right to object to, so far as our children are concerned, is when some of these items that are grossly offensive or subtly brutal or evil are put on the screen. I am aware, of course, that the B.B.C. (perhaps also the I.T.A., but certainly the B.B.C.) gives its producers an extremely useful and wise list of "Dont's", and no doubt when we have more research that list will be more comprehensive. But, even so, it will be only half a job.

I think that television's most important role should be the positive one of illuminating both children and adults on the moral values on which our society rests, and this cannot be done without introducing them to good and evil. But to be effective, they must be contemporary good and evil. The viewer does not associate himself or herself with good or evil in historic or costume plays; they are merely a charade. And one can find considerable brutality even in religious plays like Paul of Tarsus, which ran for a series of thirteen viewings. Stephen was stoned; Paul was flogged. That kind of thing does not bring complaints, because people do not associate themselves with non-contemporary events of that kind. But the contemporary evils of gangsterism and race discrimination are evils which we have to face, and they can never be cured unless we know them for what they are and actively fight them.

I would submit that this is where the B.B.C. have been much more effective than I.T.A. because they have been doing just that in the children's prograrnmes. An example of that was the recent Sunday serial, "Paradise Walk". Its theme was the friendship and courage of a small group of people of all ages, black and white, in the face of brutality and persecution in their area. It was a story of hooliganism, exploitation of racial prejudice, violence, and even murder. But the producer succeeded in telling it without much combat on the screen. And, of course, right triumphed. To adults the story was perhaps oversimplified, but it was sufficiently compelling for my family to see it through, even though we do not usually view at that hour.


My Lords, will my noble friend permit me to intervene? Is there not a real difficulty which the producers face here if they are not to show violence in a contemporary setting? May they not be showing just that type of excellent programme to which my noble friend has referred? Is that not a real difficulty?


My Lords, there is a difficulty; and I was saying that this particular programme was a remarkably good example of how the producer got over it. There was murder done; there was violence. But it was done in such a clever way that it was not brutal. Of course, it was an extremely clever film and a very good story. The story was deliberately written as a way of combating these evils I have mentioned.

But the B.B.C. received complaints about this particular play—complaints of two kinds. First, there were complaints about the unpleasant characters portrayed, because they were contemporary characters; they were people who were known. But, of course, evil, if it is clearly displayed, is always unpleasant; and the rising generation, in my view, should be made aware of what is going on so that they can do battle against it. The other complaint was over the timing, 5 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon. That timing was deliberate, because it is a period when children and parents are more likely to be viewing together; and surely when important moral teaching is being given it should be given, if possible, in the presence of parents and thus have a special additional value.

We all—politicians, parents, producers and presenters of programmes—have a heavy responsibility for what is presented to our children. It can have a very great effect, for good or ill, on the whole future of our country. And in my view, having given some study to the question, it is unquestionable that this important matter is safest in the hands of the B.B.C. I trust that in your Lordships' House we shall do all we can to ensure that, when a third channel becomes available, it will be given to the B.B.C., so that we can be certain that it will be run in the public interest.

8.17 p.m.


My Lords, I should like, first of all, to extend my sympathy to the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, who, like myself and like many of your Lordships, has not yet been able to have his dinner. But we have had an extremely wide and very interesting debate, and I would congratulate my noble friend Lord Shepherd, not only on his own fine introductory speech hut for stimulating an occasion in which we have been able to achieve a degree of unanimity in this House across the Floor that we do not normally touch. There has been only the lonely figure of Lord Balfour of Inchrye carrying a valiant standard on behalf of commercial television. I should like, in a little while, to deal with some of the points he made.

I think it would be right, however, to note one or two matters and to draw the attention of the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, to them in the hope that he will deal with them when he comes to reply. Perhaps he will tell his noble and right honourable friends of the strong views that have been expressed by many noble Lords (and with particular eloquence and knowledge by the noble Lords, Lord Strang and Lord Birdwood, and many others) that we want to see a real increase in the overseas services. It is ludicrous when, as the noble Lord said, we are spending large sums of money on defence—I do not know whether he used the words "dubious weapons" or "doubtful defence", but certainly it is on weapons and defence projects that do not always come off— not to spend more on overseas broadcasting, which is a sure-fire winner and something which we in this country (I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, would agree) believe we do better than any other country in the Western world. Whether or not this is a matter for Pilkington, it certainly is a matter for the Government, and it is a matter on which we want to see some further developments.

My noble friend Lord Alexander of Hillsborough told me an interesting fact, that in Russia listening is more expensive than viewing. If this is so and you can look in there, where the range for the source of the material is limited, much more easily than you can listen, it gives some suggestion of the importance that is attached to the jamming that from time to time goes on. I do not want to make much more of that point, beyond the fact that we expect the Government, if they can, to do something about it.

I should like to deal also with one or two points made by my noble friend Lord Longford. I must apologise to him that I should have sniped at him from behind. The fact of the matter is that our Front Bench is apt to get a little crowded, and I thought it was perhaps a little less embarrassing that I should throw one or two points from behind; but he certainly will be very welcome if he wishes to interrupt me. I should like to deal with this question of the amount of good and bad broadcasting. I am inclined to agree with those noble Lords who have said that it is very difficult to tot up comparable programmes, and certainly T.A.M. ratings and measurements of that sort are of a very doubtful kind. I am surprised that the advertisers pay so much attention to such a dubious measurement as the T.A.M. rating system, from the information I have about it. There is simply no knowledge as to the number of people who watch a particular programme. On the other hand, the B.B.C. system is likely, on the face of it, to be more reliable, because it is based on the questioning of individual people the day after the programme. They are asked whether they saw the programme, and, furthermore, what they thought of it; and that yields rather different results.

It is probably broadly true that the listening ratio between the two programmes, where they are competing and where people have double sets, may be 65:35, or even 60:40; but it is a fact also that, when it comes to the point, the B.B.C. can scoop commercial television any time it likes, as it does all too frequently and as it has done recently on Saturdays, where the "Black and White Minstrel Show" has a much larger audience than "Saturday Spectacular". The B.B.C. are able to do this, but, very properly, are not seeking all the time to scoop the other side; whereas it is obviously essential that commercial television—and this seems to me to be inherent in the whole situation—must always try to maintain their total listening figures. I certainly regard the T.A.M. rating figures as doubtful.

I was also a bit doubtful about this measurement of Christianity. I am glad we have here—I was going to say one representative of the Church, but I should not like to suggest that he is a professional representative, and I am sorry that the right reverend Prelates are not here. This is an extraordinarily difficult question. It can well be argued that commercial television put on their Sunday 6 o'clock or 6.15 programme so as to get a picture on the screen and get the audience. I am quite sure that it is of value to them commercially to do so. It is also true that, for what it is worth, the B.B.C. have decided that, in certain matters, they are not going to put on certain types of programme. It could be argued that if the stock-in-trade of the churches is sinners, the commercial television service is doing something to help the churches in that way. Therefore the antidote must be properly applied. It is a difficult subject on which to come to any definite conclusion, but I think it must be noted by the B.B.C. that these expressions and these criticisms have been made, and that they might well be expected to do better when, as I hope, they get their second programme. Indeed, it is probable that, if they had had a choice of programme, if they had had two programmes, they would have been much more easily able to meet this particular, important need.

Clearly the Government are not going to be able to tell us much about what their long-term policy is, but, as the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack made clear, there is nothing to stop us from informing either the Government or Pilkington of what we think about some of the matters—and there are some matters which have been argued quite strongly which ought to receive consideration before Pilkington reports. There is this question of local sound broadcasting, and there is, I think, a particular need that some experiments should be carried out in this direction. Noble Lords may say that my mind is completely shut on the subject of commercial radio in any form, and perhaps it is, but I am quite convinced in my own rand that this is something which must be done by the B.B.C. It is something that must be done by people who have experience of that kind of local broadcasting, and, above all, by people who will not compete, as one noble Lord pointed out, with the local newspapers for advertising.

It seems as if there is not a full appreciation on the part of those people in the many companies that have been formed for local broadcasting purposes of just how expensive it is going to be if they are to provide continuous programmes, because the reproduction of gramophone records, at any rate in this country, is a very expensive operation, due to the control operated by the Performing Right Society. It will be necessary, I am quite sure, if local sound broadcasting is to be successful, to provide some sort of network backing of a kind that the B.B.C. will be able to provide.

Even more important—and this really is important—is the fact that the B.B.C. are better at resisting local lobbying of a kind which could be a very serious problem to local stations. I can speak with some knowledge of this—and I suppose I should declare my interest—as a former talks producer in the B.B.C. I remember the pressures which were brought to bear on me on occasions to put on matter which I regarded as thoroughly inferior and below the standard that we ought to put out; and one always had the backing of this organisation which was determined—and this is a matter which tends to be underestimated—to give some measure of freedom and scope to its producers. This seems to me a powerful argument in favour of giving the local radio services to the B.B.C. Incidentally, that was a recommendation of the Beveridge Committee. It is one of the many recommendations which went into this Government's dustbin.

I should like now to turn briefly to the question of television. Government action has prevented us from having our proper choice, and one of the members of the Government who must carry a most heavy responsibility is, of course, the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack, because he was particularly responsible at that time, as Home Secretary in another place, in piloting the Bill through that House. The smooth words he used on that occasion appeared still to be with him, because he did not apparently see any of the difficulties and dissatisfactions which have been so widely expressed in the debate to-day. I do not think, either, in regard to a suggestion which was made, I think, by one noble Lord and to which the noble and learned Viscount gave some attention, that satisfactory co-operation can be achieved between rival broadcasting services. This is precisely the one thing that cannot be done unless, in fact, you are to vitiate their effectiveness.

The problems that Pilkington will have to solve are complicated. This question of wavelengths is something which I personally should prefer not to go into very much; but if, in fact, we are to change from 405 to 625, it means almost certainly—and I think this would be the right measure—that the existing B.B.C. service, and possibly the existing commercial television service, would also have to be radiated on the 625-line standard before a new choice of services was brought in. This complicates matters considerably. I think we shall have no option but to make this move, in the same way that we shall have no option but to move on to colour. It is surprising that they have colour television in Japan, and I have seen it for myself. The B.B.C. are all ready to go, yet we are still deprived of its introduction. They have now solved the problem of compatibility; it is perfectly possible to televise in colour and for the programme to be receivable in black and white. The B.B.C. reckon that they can do all this and provide an extra programme for the £5 licence fee, as my noble friend Lord Shepherd has pointed out.

I should now like to turn to the question of commercial television. "Caliban in Chains", it was called during the debates a few years ago, both in this House and in another place, and the noble Viscount who is now the Leader of the House, Lord Hailsham, was as eloquent as anybody when dealing with "Caliban in Chains". I believe that it is still "Caliban in Chains". He may be a bit better shaved than we might have expected, but it is in fact just as good as, in some ways better than, we expected, and every bit as bad as, and in some ways worse than, we expected in its effect. And I hope that the favourable remarks I have made about it will not be quoted, as certain other favourable remarks I made about commercial television in a previous debate were quoted by one of the programme producers: they were taken out of context and used as one isolated opinion of a noble Lord of this House on a radio programme.

I want to make it clear that much is wrong, and this brings me to the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, who made his gallant speech. I should like to congratulate him on his gamble which has come off. I fully appreciate that he did, perhaps, take a very real gamble, and I fully agree that all who invested their money took a gamble. But I must say that they have been heavily rewarded.


There was very little money.


Then I do not know that the noble Lord has much ground for regret. I am not complaining on this score at the moment. The Government provided the framework, and the programme contractors are entitled, under the law, to make the money they are making; one cannot blame any individual programme contractor or any shareholder for that. But we are concerned very much with some of the criticisms which have been made of the conduct of programme companies, and particularly of advertisers. I should have liked to ask the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, why something is not done by the programme companies to control these advertisements? He said that the same sort of advertisements appear in the newspapers. But it is a requirement of the I.T.A. that the sort of breaches of the rules which my noble friend Lord Taylor and others quoted simply ought not to take place. I do not know why the programme contractors do not do something about it. I do not know why they should allow it to go on, why they should expose themselves to criticisms of a kind they could so easily avoid.


My Lords, by Statute the responsibility lies not with the programme contractors but with the I.T.A. Maybe the I.T.A.'s authority is not sufficient, but that is another question.


My Lords, may I quote to the noble Lord what in fact the I.T.A. say on this matter? They say: The companies check carefully any advertisements in which scientific or statistical claims are made. While the Authority was satisfied that as a general rule adequate assurances of the validity of such claims were obtained before they were admitted to television, it asked the companies towards the end of the year to pay particular attention to all such advertisements to ensure that they complied fully with the provisions of the Principles … And those principles my noble friend Lord Taylor quoted. They have repeated them again, and the responsibility does not lie only on the I.T.A. This is one of the troubles of the matter: that there is a division of control. It may be that the I.T.A. do not deal firmly enough with the programme contractors, but the responsibility must surely be on those who in fact put them out, although certainly the I.T.A. are also to blame.

Dealing with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, I do not see how he could seriously suggest that the B.B.C. should, if they want, provide merely "highbrow" programmes and not "popular" stuff. Nothing is more clear to the programme contractors themselves than that it is essential for any broadcasting service to keep its audience. If we reduce the B.B.C. to a sort of Third Programme on television, that will destroy it completely. I am rather shocked to hear a director of a programme contracting company suggesting that the aims should be different. Because the aims of commercial television, or Independent Television as it is euphemistically called, and the B.B.C. are broadly the same, so far as Acts of Parliament are concerned. It is really naive to suggest that the B.B.C. can put on only "highbrow" stuff. The B.B.C. are there to provide entertainment, and, as I have said already, they are able to do it very well when they want to. Nor do I regard the freedom to switch off as a freedom of choice. This is not the sort of freedom that those of us who believe in freedom of choice envisage; and it is for that reason that so many of us, on all sides, have opposed the introduction of this so-called competitive television.

There is one other point made by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, which I must answer. He said that I.T.V. started television education—I think they were his words. This is an absolute travesty of what actually happened. I do not want to go into the matter again, because we have had it out once before in this House. I do not blame programme contractors or others —in this case Sir John Wolfenden. It is a disadvantage that they do not have people who are briefed to reply for them in this House, and because of that the matter went into correspondence in The Times. But in my opinion it was a clear determination on the part of this particular programme contractor. Associated-Rediffusion, to "scoop" the B.B.C. They set up their programmes. The B.B.C. had been planning for two or three years to start up their programmes: they had been consulting all the education authorities. There was widespread criticism in the education Press, and the programmes, in fact, went on before their own Advisory Committee had properly been set up. I do not want to make more of this; I can only say to the noble Lord that it is not fair to suggest that the I.T.V. started televison education.


My Lords, the noble Lord is speaking to his brief. I have my information. My information is that, however much the B.B.C. may have been planning—and sometimes planners go on for years before they do anything or are spurred into action—the if you like "stole the thunder". They came out with educational work, based on their Advisory Committee's conclusions, before the B.B.C. did. They stimulated the B.B.C., and the B.B.C. should be grateful for what the I.T.V. did for them.


The noble Lord may be speaking to his brief, but I am not speaking to any brief at all. I did not know that the noble Lord would bring up this matter. I am speaking from my knowledge of the facts resulting from the investigation which I have since carried out with the help of the Director of Education of the Associated-Rediffusion Company. If the noble Lord wishes, I can produce the facts or refer him to the correspondence in The Times, some of which, I might add, was not written by me.

Other things were also done. There was one particular notable occasion when programmes were grossly interfered with, against the advice, and to some extent without the knowledge, of the T.T.V. Children's Committee, under pressure from advertisers, and under direction of the directors of the programme company. I can only say that this information has gone to the Pilkington Committee, and I do not doubt that they will be able to assess the matter.

I think that we ought also to consider what steps we should take to bring "Caliban" a bit further under control. At the time legislation was going through both Houses, there were a large number of Amendments, and if some of these had been passed they would have reduced the difficulty. There would have been a greater control over advertising than apparently is obtained. There are certain things we ought possibly to do fairly soon. It may well be that I.T.V. ought to be given even greater independence. I do not know. I fully agree with the noble Lord when he says that there is complete impartiality and no programme contractor pressure on the news that goes out.

One of the difficulties with which we are faced is that, unlike Scottish Television and some of the smaller companies, bigger contractors are preparing to move out of this business and invest their profits elsewhere. We all know that a figure, which I believe is as much as £1 million, has been mentioned in the newspapers as being invested in bowling alleys. Is this the action of a responsible body seeking to provide a television service of a high standard to the community—that they should invest in bowling alleys, of all things? Bowling alleys are admirable, but should this type of activity be a main financial interest of a programme company? The fact remains that some of the big programme contractors—not Scottish Television, which has not had the chance to make its money yet; and I do not doubt that it will go ahead doing its best—are already acting in a way which shows an indifference to the kind of behaviour that the public interest demands from people who occupy positions of so much social power. I do not doubt that the Pilkington Committee will be aware of public opinion that educationists, churches and others are dead against an extension of commercial television.

Foreigners are staggered that we should have indulged in this experience at all. They cannot think why, when we had avoided the mistake that other countries have made, for reasons which we know quite well were connected with Conservative Party politics at that time—something to do with the Suez group; and we hope that the same sort of concession will not be made to the Rhodesian group in due course—we should have commercial television. This is a matter which, if it had come to a free vote in either House, would never have come before us. I hope that the Government will take the advice that I am sure the Pilkington Committee will give. But the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack has already given notice that they do not intend to take that advice. He has already given good notice, admittedly preparing for the criticism that he knew would be coming, because of the failure of the Government to adopt the views of the Beveridge Committee, that unless that advice is what the Government want, they are unlikely to take it. I hope that I am wrong and that we shall have reassurance of a greater kind than we received from the noble and learned Viscount to-day.

The only question still to be settled in my mind is whether there should be a new service. It may well be that there can be two. Much as I deplore the political confrontation, it may be that commercial television will get one and the B.B.C. another; but I am utterly opposed to the idea of a new public service corporation. I believe this to be completely unrealistic. It would he expensive and, above all, it would fail to provide for viewers—and this is what so many are apt to forget. At the moment, we are not getting a choice of programmes. On Christmas afternoon, for example, there were two circuses, and we are liable to get two programmes of the same type at the same time. Are we really going to duplicate the enormous B.B.C. structure in television?

Furthermore, I think that we tend to underrate the value of the national significance of the B.B.C. I think that it was the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Manchester who referred to this aspect. Here is something which really is of value to us as a country. We are all inclined to say: Let us have a competing service, because that creates freedom. But there are some things which are truly national, like the Army. We are satisfied and happy that in the B.B.C. there is something national, which truly represents the British way of life. If we split up these services it will be easy for different bodies to shuffle off their responsibilities, whereas the B.B.C. recognise their responsibilities. Whatever criticisms there may be—and undoubtedly there are criticisms, such as noble Lords have made to-day—here is something we must preserve, because if we do not, we shall lose something of real value to our national life.

For this reason, I hope that, whatever conclusions the Pilkington Committee arrive at, they will ensure that the B.B.C.. as a leading viable body, will have two programmes, whatever else is done, and is allowed to continue, fortified by the sort of opinions we have heard expressed to-day. It is not just a question of trusting people. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, suggested that the people are wise and able to judge. Of course, we want the maximum freedom, but there is such a thing as leadership, and it is leadership that your Lordships' House has asked for to-day in regard to the national broadcasting service

8.47 p.m.


My Lords, in opening, I think that I should assure the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, that it tie reads my noble and learned friend's speech in the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow he will find nothing to indicate that the Government do not intend to take notice of the Pilkington Committee's findings. What I must tell him is that, had we taken the line which noble Lords on the other side constantly urged us to take in this debate—that is, to express our own views as Ministers on the matters which are now before the Pilkington Committee—then Sir Harry Pilkington would have had reason to resign. As the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has already decided that the Pilkington Committee's findings are going to be exactly in line with his own, I imagine that he would have deplored that.


My Lords, which noble Lord on this side has suggested that the Government should advise the Pilkington Committee?


The noble Lord's Leader himself expressed regret that we are not prepared to give our views on this matter. He complained that the Government were not prepared to give their views on questions submitted to the Pilkington Committee.


My Lords, I do not think that the noble Lord will get that interpretation from my words when they appear in print.


My Lords, I can assure the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition that that was the impression received by my noble and learned friend and myself.


My Lords, we listened to a very long speech by the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack. If the noble Lord wants to do so now, he is perfectly justified in speaking for half an hour and saying nothing. I can understand what he means, but we wanted rather more favourable treatment of a discussion opened by the Opposition than that.


My Lords, I hope to give the noble Viscount what satisfaction I can, but I cannot expect to give him more satisfaction than my noble and learned friend who sits on the Woolsack. Up to now, at least, this has been a rich and lively debate and I shall try to thank the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, fittingly, I hope, at the close rather than at the outset of what I have to say. Like him, I also have read the previous debates on this subject in your Lordships' House, and what has seemed most notable to me is the very much narrower front on which attacks have been launched on this occasion than in the debates of 1953 and 1954. Seven years ago, the embryo of commercial television was vulnerable to any prophecy, and most of the prophecies were gloomy indeed. It was condemned to financial, cultural and many other forms of failure. Instead, it has grown, and is now accused of growing too fast. But even those who expected such growth dreaded it for reasons that have been described: that it would fall into the hands of hard-boiled businessmen, unashamedly out for all the profit they could get.


That is so.


That is completely disproved by the facts.


It is proved by the money.


It was said that it would be employed almost exclusively to debase those whom it might enlighten and ennoble. Can noble Lords seriously say that has happened? It would produce a powerful political lobby whose purpose and effect would be to prevent any raising of standards. That would have been an I.T.A. lobby. But I must say that if such an infamous thing were conceivable, then the B.B.C. lobby has been fairly amply represented in your Lordships' House to-day. These fears have proved groundless, and when they have been repeated they have been repeated in much less definite tones than formerly. None the less, it seems clear to me that wisps of nimbus still linger from that ominous mood to cloud and vex the minds of some of your Lordships.


My Lords, is the noble Lord suggesting that people like myself who spoke in this debate have been carrying out a thing which is usually understood by the word "lobby"; that we have been lobbied by the B.B.C. and have been speaking to a brief from the B.B.C.? I can assure him that that is quite untrue.


If the noble Viscount had done me the honour of listening to what I said, he would have heard me say that "it" such, a monstrous thing were even conceivable—


It was an innuendo.


What I find hardest of all to accept is the assertion that there has been a general worsening of standards in television broadcasting since the advent of the I.T.A., or even at its hands. That is exactly the reverse of my own impression. There could be, of course, two immediate explanations of this. It could be that my standards are low and unworthy, while those of noble and critical Lords are lofty and fastidious, as in every case they are known to be. It could be that I have been more fortunate in the programmes that I have watched. I am sure that it is still necessary to be selective in one's viewing, and not many of us have time to be selective. I feel now a little better equipped than I should have been a week ago, as I have talked to 20 or 30 of those inside the "mystery" of television and I have watched three of the more important television shows from the control room: they were "This Week", "Free Speech" and "Panorama", each produced by a separate organisation. None of that fits me to set aside the opinion and judgment of the noble Lords, Lord Shepherd, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, Lord Taylor and Lord Shackleton, and certainly not that of the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger.


My Lords, on a point of personal explanation, if the noble Lord feels that he can set aside my opinion—


The noble Earl, Lord Longford, knows only too well that I should never set aside his opinion, and therefore I did not include him in the list. I shall invoke the views and findings of some of those who seem to me sufficiently authoritative and detached to persuade those noble Lords, and even perhaps the noble Lady, that they could be mistaken. I doubt if any of them have very much more time than I to sit in front of the screen, which places us to that extent at a common disadvantage.

On the theme of general standards, it must be of some significance that major publishers have found a greatly increased sale for their serious books in the past few years, and that their surveys have indicated that this is due to television. I was also struck by the assurance of my noble friend Lord Auckland when he spoke in last week's debate on Sport, that television persuaded young people to play the games which they enjoyed watching. I am not quite sure that it persuades them, in the same way, to go to church. But, as the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Carlisle has implied, there is a great deal of evidence to show that millions have been prompted to think seriously about religion by religious programmes on the television screen.

The most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, who was one of those outspokenly opposed to the idea of commercial television, has made three separate appearances under its auspices, including the delivery of his Easter Message, and he has pronounced his admiration for the way in which it does its work. His successor-elect, the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of York, has also broadcast through that medium on four occasions. Dr. John Heenan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, has written with reference to the producers of "About Religion": that they have a sure instinct for what is permissible and what is irreverent. They have quite deliberately and consistently gone out to capture for religion the most attractive features of secular programmes"—


My Lords, I was going to ask the noble Lord if he is aware that the most reverend Primate appears in the News of the World from time to time as an author. Does that necessarily mean that he approves of the News of the World?


I am afraid that I know nothing about the most reverend Primate's taste in newspapers.




Perhaps I might remind the noble Lord case it is voluntarily and presumably, involuntarily.


No. He writes a Christmas Message in the News of the World, which I happen to enjoy reading, but I do not know whether he approves of that newspaper. I certainly do not approve of the News of the World, but I enjoy it.


Presumably, in both cases he wishes to reach a large public. I was quoting from the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, who said: They have quite deliberately and consistently gone out to capture for religion the most attractive features of secular programmes And he continued: I think quite sincerely that they have been completely successful. I cannot recall a single programme which failed through bad taste. If television is the most powerful medium of communication in our time, it is a matter of congratulation to this company that it has succeeded in speaking a language inoffensive to Christians yet enticing for those to whom Christianity means so little and ought to mean so much.


Nevertheless, perhaps it is worth reminding the noble Lord that Archbishop Heenan is Chairman of the. Catholic Group which has given evidence to the Pilkington Committee to the effect that if there is to be a third channel it should not be given to commercial interests.


The noble Earl must recognise that I am not arguing as to where the third channel should go, or anything like that. I am simply drawing attention at this moment to the good that both types of television can do, and have done. It would be quite wrong for me to argue which way a decision on the third channel should go, and I most certainly should not dream of doing so.

I have spoken to those among the producers of Independent Television, who I am certain are sincere men, who see the possibility of their work as compared to that of John Wesley, to go out to the people who rarely or never go to church. Mr. John Marsh, the principal of Mansfield College, Oxford, another convinced opponent at the beginning, has since written: Each week this company is willing to spend large sums of money in order that the good news of the Gospel might be proclaimed in this powerful new medium. These are strong and friendly allies and I hope that the Churches will never fail to encourage this programme, is producers and script writers, its religious advisers and technicians as they continue to experiment and develop new ways by which the Christian Gospel may be taken into the homes and hearts of our people.


Would the noble Lord explain also what these broadcasting agencies are doing? A large number of persons in this country are not professing Christians.


But the noble Lady will recognise that there are quite a number who are.


I certainly recognise that there are a large number who are, and they are entitled to be served. But will the noble Lord explain how the impartiality and objectivity of the broadcasting organisations is compatible with the fact that they preach a particular doctrine?


The noble Lady may not recognise it, but in point of fact I have quoted people from two different—not doctrines, but two different denominations within the Christian doctrine, and I am unaware that any ban has been placed on those who wish to preach other doctrines. It is one of the rare occasions when I do not quite understand the point the noble Lady is trying to make. I am merely making the point that, in our view, among Christians, Independent Television is doing good work. This is a far cry from the fears of those who forecast that the object of commercial television would be to appeal to the lowest common denominator of the greatest number of people. I feel that is disproved.


That is what they do.


If the noble Lord seriously thinks that those two quotations are compatible with a medium appealing to the lowest common denominator of the greatest number of people, then I do not follow his reasoning.

I have said that publishers have found that the sale of serious books has gone up strikingly, and have attributed this to television. I have confirmed this impression through two of the largest publishing houses, through the Publishers' Association and the Libraries' Association, and also the National Book League. It is only fair to say that the last body were more reserved in their statement of its effect on children. Their finding was that some children read less because they were watching television so much of the time, while others read more and better books because of the encouragement it gave them. The Libraries' Association told me that when television opens up in an area, there may be at first a reduction in borrowing, but after a year or two more and better books are borrowed, proportionately more in the non-fiction line. This has been observed in a number of areas, and I am told that the same pattern has also appeared in Australia. The Fifteenth Annual Report of the Arts Council has recorded that television has already notably enlarged the audience which sound radio has secured for music and drama and that it has to its credit many bold and imaginative experiments in bringing the fine arts home, to millions who have hitherto enjoyed no more than a marginal acquaintance with them. On the other hand the damaging effect of television has been referred to by some noble Lords, and I find this a very difficult matter to assess, and therefore to answer. I do not think anyone would deny that the programmes addressed to children are excellent, but I would agree certainly that this could not counterbalance the effect of a few, even a very few, really harmful ones shown during the hours when children were viewing. But what are these? The Nuffield Report, Television and the Child, has said that Westerns are not harmful to children. It found also that children who watched television were no more violent in their behaviour than children who did not. In the few Westerns that I have watched, incredible though they may be, the hero is always noble and honourable, and he always wins.


With a gun!


But never in the back, my Lords! I recall also that five or six weeks ago there was a story of a young girl. A juvenile delinquent boy got into the house, and she actually tied him up with a rope in a manner which she had seen done on television. It caused little sensation at the time, and I was bound to wonder what sort of sensation it would have caused if a juvenile delinquent boy had tied up a young girl, and said that he had learnt it by watching television.


My Lords, may I remind the noble Lord of the occasion where a child committed murder and he alleged that he had seen it committed in that way on television?


That was an extravagant example, and I was saying that there are examples of good as well as bad produced by the effect on television. What I describe has been the general finding of other investigations by trained social scientists. Noble Lords may have seen a reference in a newspaper last week to the Report issued by the World Health Organisation, entitled Trends in Juvenile Delinquency by Professor Gibbens, of the London Institute of Psychiatry. He found that there was no reason to think that television and radio provided a motive for crime. But quite clearly, there are people who do think so and, of course, the experts can be wrong.

Whatever validity there may be in this charge, it seems to me that it can hardly be put down to the intrusion of commercial television. Both the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. are equally concerned that their programmes should not give offence or cause damage, but since the onus appears to be placed on the latter, at least in the course of this debate, I might mention two cases (they may be the only two: I do not know) in which two separate programmes were rejected by independent companies, in one case on the ground of violence and in the other because of sexual passages, and were later accepted by the B.B.C. In saying this, I am casting no sort of stone at the B.B.C. It is their view that the "X" certificate has reference to films as shown in cinemas, and I am certainly not setting myself up to be a judge of that principle.


My Lords, I thought just now that it was evident that the Government were not going to say anything at all which was likely to affect the Pilkington decisions. But the case just cited by the noble Lord did not seem to be outside that category.


I think the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition really should give me the benefit of listening to what I say. I said that since the onus has been laid on the I.T.A. in the course of this debate, I might mention that it happens in both directions. It is only fair that the noble Viscount should listen to my argument and not put some words into my mouth and take out other words. As I say, I am casting no stones. I am not saying that the B.B.C. are wrong in this—I am saying that both bodies take the same line in this.

In the course of his speech, the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, mentioned two films. He said what one of them was. He referred to a film, "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning"; on Independent Television, shown by A.T.V. after the film had been banned. I think he was thinking of the banning of that film by the Warwickshire Watch Committee.


I did not refer to any banning.


My noble friend said that it was an "X" film.


After it had been been banned by a watch committee. I think he mentioned "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning."


I mentioned that film as "X" film, and another one, which was a thug film, "The Cosh Boy". I said it was a pity that nothing better was done to protect our children.


I may have failed to identify the film the noble Viscount was talking about, but it was my understanding that he mentioned the name, and I could have told him something about it. If he did not have that particular film in mind, I see no point in mentioning it. Speaking for myself, I should find it very hard to lay down any rule about what is horrifying and what is not. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, described his painful impressions of seeing strong men weep in an all-in wrestling bout on the television screen. That, after all, is real life, and maybe more horrifying than fiction.


I did not say that strong men wept. I was saying that small boys cried out, "We want blood!"


I think the noble Lord also said that the wrestlers were weeping. I may have misheard every noble Lord who has spoken to-day, but it seems to me that that is what he said. Hansard will declare the truth. There is more horror for me in Lear and Macbeth than in any modern gangster film that I can remember seeing, but neither had been given an "X" certificate that I have heard.

I waited to hear what solutions were going to be proposed to prevent this, but I am not very clear what solutions were proposed. My noble and learned friend said in his speech that, if there were any proposals for a new form of censorship, he would expect, as I should, without and within your Lordships' House, a great deal of opposition. So a solution has to be found if the situation is as bad as that. But it is not an easy one, and it is certainly not for me to suggest it.

Some noble Lords referred to the unseemly or irritating and deceptive nature, as they considered it, of some advertisements; and on this point also my noble and learned friend pointed to the mandatory powers of the I.T.A.'s Advertising Advisory Committee. I also studied this booklet which the noble Lord, Lord Taylor produced, and I was frankly astonished by what seemed to me the completeness, not to say squeamishness, of the code laid down in the booklet referred to. The three forbidden illnesses which I had picked out were different from those the noble Lord mentioned. They included barber's rash, baldness and whooping cough. I am bound to say that some advertisements I have seen have seemed to me very silly, but none of them offensive; and a good many were frankly entertaining. I know that in so describing them I am describing myself as an imbecile in the opinion of the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger. But I should have thought that to be effective such advertisements had to entertain, and in all sincerity it appears to me that after five years the public have come to accept—




I was not going to use the word "dishonesty"; I do not know why the noble Lord expected it. It appears to me that the public have come to accept certain conventions in television advertising just as they do in other media of entertainment, such as Grand Opera. When a particularly robust soprano on the stage has been singing "I am dying, I am dying" for fifteen minutes the audience in fact assume that before they get home she will be tucking into a steak.


As one imbecile to another, I, too, enjoy some of these and find them very funny. But surely the whole trouble is that here is this exact code and here are these really monstrous patent medicine advertisements which absolutely belie the code. Why on earth is not the code enforced, and why is there no penal sanction—financial sanction, which is the only one they would understand—against those who breach it all the time?


I was going to say that some of the individual instances which the noble Lord produced seem to be very serious, but not all of them were even credible. I do not think the noble Lord will expect me to reply to individual cases tonight. Both the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, and the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, mentioned specific cases. They will not expect me to refer to them tonight; they will, I assume, expect me to write to them, which I will certainly do.


When the noble Lord says they are not credible, he is not implying they are not genuine cases?


No; I am merely implying that the picture portrayed on the television screen is not meant to be credible. The point I am making is that I really do not believe that men such as the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, professional men particularly, take these things very seriously when they see them in other media than television. I have here a magazine full of advertisements, and the first thing I see is, "Horlicks is part of a mother's love!" I think it was the noble Lord himself who was offended by claims to be a natural product. There is another one I have here: "One glass of Lucozade contains the energy a typical child of 10 would use for playing 84 minutes non-stop." According to my mathematics, six glasses would enable a child to play 8 hours 40 minutes non-stop. As the picture attached includes two children, both masked and carrying lethal weapons, I should have thought, if the parents believed this, they would pour it down the sink.


As indeed they should.


I will give another one: Guavin—your children's safest source of natural vitamins". I do not know whether it is the safest source of natural vitamins, but I believe the noble Lord objects to these superlatives unless they can be proved.


My Lords, my objection is that there is a Government code laid down which says that these things shall be truthful. I have no objection to their appearing in magazines which are nothing to do with the Government. But the Government has said this is the law, that there must be this advertising committee, and it is no good saying that just because it is all very funny it does not matter. It does, because these people are paying enormous sums in order to do this, because simple folk are taken in and go and buy the things. That is the only reason it is done. Otherwise it would not be done.


The point I am making is that I am quite unable to understand why it should deceive more people than are deceived by similar examples published in this magazine, which is published by the British Medical Association.


My Lords, we are quite unable to understand how the noble Lord defends one set of lies by saying other people tell other lies.


May I ask the noble Lord if he approves the inclusion of these advertisements, whether they are true or not or funny or not, in such a programme as the Eichmann programme?


There was, of course, considerable controversy about that. It was in itself an example of a very serious programme shown at a peak hour. I can quite see how the noble Lord may have been struck by the tastelessness of that advertisement appearing then. I should have thought it was bad I liaison between advertising and editorial staffs. This is a magazine published by the British Medical Association, and I see it says under a committee of doctors set up by the British Medical Association. The point I want to make, I think, is made; these advertisements are all what the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, called deceitful and lying. They are all, if you study them and look at them, deceitful and lying, but they do no harm. What I cannot understand is why they should do more harm on a television screen than in a magazine published by doctors. There is another advertisement here: Elbeo silk stockings give you new legs"— highly suspect I should have thought; and here you have a picture of the new legs, upside down for some extraordinary medical reason. I do not know whether I have convinced the noble Lord, but I hope I have brought him some distance towards my point of view.

Many matters were discussed which I really cannot go into, such as the extension of sound broadcasting and the going over to 625 lines. The noble Lord, Lord Rea, said something which surprised me, or I understood him to say something which surprised me; perhaps I was misunderstanding him, too. He said that the radio manufacturers of this country thought it would take them fifteen years to go over to the 625-line standard. But in fact my information is that the British manufacturers have already exported these sets; they exported last year 23,000 sets of 625-line standard, and in fact other line standard sets for other nations. So they are already in the business of selling these television sets.


My Lords, I do not think they meant it would take all that time, but it would suit them if that time elapsed before they made the changeover.


That I understand. We are all agreed there would have to be two parallel services before this could be fully introduced: that I fully understand.

My Lords, something has been said about the holdings of newspaper interests with television programme companies. Although my noble and learned friend and my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye dealt with this particular anxiety, perhaps as an old newspaper man myself—a nostalgic newspaper man—I might be allowed to air one consideration which I think has not been voiced. It seems to me that this particular issue is bound to be seen under an especially fierce light at the moment, when newspapers are becoming concentrated in fewer hands. But it seems to me that this need not be a continuous trend. There is nothing to prevent new publications from being launched, nothing to preclude the present tendency to centralisation from being reversed, at a later stage.

I wondered, as I listened to these arguments, whether those who propound them would feel quite the same if there were, say, 15 to 20 independent newspaper owners, as there are in France, or 16 as there are in Italy. Would they, I wondered to myself, having in mind the possible "rediffusion" of newspapers in this country, really wish to place a permanent statutory ban upon any voluntary association of interest between broadcasting and the world's most respected Press, with the effect of artificially denying their interdependence and collaboration and the possible benefits to broadcasting of 200 years of experience. I am not saying that they are wrong to urge this, even so; but it seemed to me that here was an aspect of the question which had been ignored in their argument.

The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, spoke at some length and with some vehemence about the profits of the contracting companies. It seems to me that two factors, among others, operate here. First, it strikes me as a little unreasonable, as my noble friend has said, to urge investors to take risks which frighten off other men, and then complain that, having taken the risks, they make large profits. My knowledge of business is a good deal slighter than that of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, but I have always understood that suitable prizes have to be offered for financial courage, otherwise that courage is not forthcoming.


My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, who has been very good, but I just want to say in this matter that I too have a certain sympathy with the position of the first one or two television companies—the pioneers. But that does not apply to the vast majority of the companies that commenced operations when the thing had been proved, and took all the advantages and opportunities of the lessons learned from other people.


My Lords, the noble Lord has made his point. It may appear valid to some and not to others; but I am delighted that he should have made it. There was another factor which puzzled me. I would flatter myself, perhaps wrongly, that I know the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, as well as I know almost anyone in this House, but I have never observed that he objected to profits as such. I always supposed that he thought rather highly of them, especially, if I have listened accurately to him, when some of the profits were made out of exports.


They are very hard won.


The export record of the television companies is quite impressive. One has sold television programmes abroad to the tune of £9½ million of which £7 million was to dollar countries. During the past year one company has sold 7,000 British-made half-hour television programmes in 41 different countries. Another has won the distinction of being the first to achieve a network showing of a British series at a peak time in the United States. This has been matched by the B.B.C.'s sale of its magnificent series "The Age of Kings" now enthralling millions in the United States, also at a peak hour.

I agree that the profits of the B.B.C. go, as they always have done, either back into the business or into the Exchequer. But that is not to say that the Exchequer has not benefited from the prosperity of the I.T.V. companies. It has done so, according to figures given to me, to the tune of something like £35 million to £40 million in tax—and that figure does not include personal taxes on dividends. The companies have also become patrons of the arts on a fairly liberal scale. The Arts Council Report records their grants for the year 1959–60, as totalling £150,000. Apart from that, Granada Television has endowed a Chair of Television at Leeds University, and the Welsh Television Authority a Chair of Drama at a Welsh University.

The noble Lords, Lord Strang, Lord Birdwood, and Lord Shackleton, have spoken on external broadcasts, which are not, of course, within the Pilkington terms of reference. I can remember unburdening myself on this subject not very long ago from another Bench, I think on a Motion set down by the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood. I doubt if there is anyone in your Lordships' House who feels more keenly than I do the need for putting our beliefs and hopes and achievements across in the world outside. I would merely draw the noble Lord's attention to the fact that radio is only one of the means of doing so. The sum of money made available for this purpose to the B.B.C. has increased steadily over the past five years, even when adjusted as the result of various considerations.

Our information services are working in almost every country in the world, and using a variety of methods. Requirements are not static, as noble Lords will appreciate. Lately, we have reduced our services to Western Europe and expanded them in other parts of the world, including Eastern Europe and Soviet Russia. I should have said that that was a reasonably considered policy. As Lord Strang mentioned, there has also been an expansion in the Arabic countries, from 28 hours a week six years ago to 84 hours a week at present. This service is now supported by more effective technical resources—including appropriately-sited relay stations—than any other external broadcaster in the Middle East. The very considerable investment here is producing highly satisfactory results, in terms of larger and larger audiences throughout the whole area.

The noble Lord also asked about Africa and Asia. I am happy to tell him that the Arabic service is heard not only in the whole of North Africa, but also by a considerable audience in East Africa, no less than 18 hours a day of the General Overseas Service in English being beamed to Africa South of the Sahara. There are also English programmes tailored for Africa, vernacular programmes in Somali, Swahili and Hausa, and a service in French for West Africa which has just been expanded to become one of the largest of the B.B.C 's language services. The Swahili service is also about to be expanded to twice its present strength. This makes the volume of the B.B.C.'s broadcasting to Africa over 2½ times that of broadcasting direct to Africa by either the Soviet Union or China. In addition, there is a very large output from a number of Colonial systems.

The noble Lord also asked about Asia. So far as Asia is concerned, there are at the same time greater technical problems for ourselves and greater contributions from our friends. Our broadcasts in South East Asia and the Far East, though certainly not negligible, are lower than those of some other countries. But the volume of Communist broadcasting should, I think, be compared not only to that of the B.B.C. but to that of the West as a whole. There is a great deal of broadcasting from Australian and United States stations, and between us we about match the volume put out by the Communist Powers. That is my information.

We are at the same time seeking means to make our broadcasts more audible in this and other areas, and it would be a mistake, I think, to judge our effectiveness by volume alone in any part of the world. We direct our services to obtain the maximum effect. The volume of Communist propaganda directed at this country has, in fact, been somewhat reduced lately, though it is still very considerable. But what effect do noble Lords think it has? In the past few days the Soviet propaganda machine has been good enough to inform us that my right honourable friend the Lord Privy Seal has just rushed up to the North of Scotland to put down riots at Holy Loch. I do not know how many people in these islands have registered that piece of intelligence, and I wonder how much it could impress them or inspire anything but mild amusement, should they hear it.


I am a little confused about this. I gather from what the noble Lord has just been saying that our impact to the Iron Curtain, and behind it, is getting better and better, whereas I gathered from the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Strang, which I very much admired, that quite the reverse was the case. There seems to be a little discrepancy. I wonder if the noble Lord would explain it.


I think the noble Lord, Lord Strang, said that our broadcasts to Europe had been reduced. I am saying that the broadcasts to Western Europe have been reduced: those to Eastern Europe and Russia have been increased. I am at the moment referring to the volume of broadcasting. The noble Lord used the term "better" which will come to later. The point I am making is that the mere volume of broadcasting is not, in our view, what matters most.

The noble Lord, Lord Strang, asked about the discontinuance or reduction of language broadcast; to certain friendly countries; and it is true that the services in Dutch, Norwegian and Afrikaans were discontinued, on the advice of the Drogheda Committee. Broadcasts in French have lately been expanded. My noble friend Lord Bird-wood asked me about the position of the personnel on the, service to Yugoslavia, and I can only tell him that the position, so far as we can consider it, is the same as it was a year ago when my right honourable friend, the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs answered questions on it and said that we were satisfied with the service as it stood, and that it was not permeated by Communist influence. I think perhaps the best thing would be if I tried to obtain some typical broadcasts because on those the noble Lord could judge better than on anything else.

In the matter of technical installations, I can give, I hope, more encouraging news to the noble Lord, Lord Strang. The B.B.C. has recently been authorised to order a further six replacement transmitters, together with new aerials and other equipment costing about LI million. Four of the new transmitters are to be of higher power—that is, 250 kilowatts—than those in present use, which are of 100 kilowatts. This should improve reception in the distant target areas, such as the Far East, and should also improve the signal to the relay stations. Other facts in this context are doubtless known to interested noble Lords from pages 80 and 81 of the B.B.C.'s Annual Report. I think I have done my best to answer most of the noble Lords questions on this extremely important aspect of the B.B.C.'s activities.


Except as regards technical improvements, I do not think the noble Lord has said anything more than that the Government are continuing their old policy of robbing Peter to pay Paul.


The noble Lord again has made his point, and I shall bring his points of view to my noble friend and my right honourable friends who have to deal with these matters.

My Lords, certainly on this question, I find no difficulty in responding to the thoughts of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, as the expressed them to-day, and as he has expressed them on previous occasions. I am tempted to repeat something I said on a previous occasion of my experience in one Iron Curtain country, where, though the law decreed 25 years of imprisonment to anyone who was caught listening to the B.B.C., still people listened. That is a measure of its effectiveness and the respect in which it is held. It was described to me later, by someone who escaped from that country, as the sane if somewhat self-complacent voice of the Free World, which saved them from going demented. It is a voice which commands respect throughout the world and from which we benefit in many ways, a voice which the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Opposition, recalled by repeating the phrase "This is London", used at the beginning of every news broadcast during a testing period.

In this general context, I can most warmly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, when he speaks of the prestige of the B.B.C., and in particular of the fine new building in North-West London, and I think perhaps it would be appropriate that Shepherd's Bush should be mentioned more than once in "Shepherd's Debate". I would advise anyone who wishes to experience a surge of pride in a great British institution, to drive out there, preferably not in a rush hour, and look up at this new monument to his country's achievement. There is, of course, very much more embodied in it than mere prestige. Thanks to recent techniques related to the electronic camera, the two great centres producing television material for the world will soon be Shepherd's Bush and Hollywood. Meanwhile, there is no reason to think that the export earnings of the independent companies will fall off. In fact, the picture that I have registered of these two elements of a great industry, acting as incentives upon each other, has been a very encouraging one to me. Unless I am altogether too starry-eyed about it—and I do not think I am—it is a formula which will produce not only quantity but quality.

My Lords, commercial television in this country is better already than commercial television in others, because it had the B.B.C. to set its standard. In turn, the B.B.C. has benefited by the appearance of a new contender in the field, where it had reigned so long in lonely supremacy. I am well aware that there is not unanimity of opinion on this level of achievement, or on its cost, or on the contribution which television is making to the culture of our time. But I wonder who would really dare to define, for acceptance by the whole human species, the meaning of "culture". My Lords, not I. In the words of Sam Goldwyn, "Include me out!" And television directors find it equally hard.

I had related to me some weeks ago a passage of dialogue between a reporter and a senior executive of one of the programme companies, in which the executive was being quizzed on the supposed dearth of cultural matter put out by his company, and who protested that the same week they had shown a programme in which five M.P.s took part. When this persistent and not very discerning young man objected that the views of politicians hardly came under the heading of culture, the exasperated executive replied, "Well, it certainly isn't entertainment".

Noble Lords, one after another, have made the effect of television on the intellect and character a central theme of their speeches. How to set up, and how to maintain, a high standard of television and broadcasting is a matter of importance, and indeed concerns Parliament in principle, even though this is not a time for decisions to be taken, or for the House as such to declare its views, apart from as a collection of individuals. So far as putting forward our own views is concerned, as I have explained, my noble friend and I were muzzled this afternoon, but perhaps, as well as summarising, and in some cases having tried to answer noble Lords this afternoon, I may briefly call to mind two opposite theories which have been held, without being emphasised, in the course of this debate.

The noble Lord, Lord Reith, in his period of command was perfectly clear as to how a high standard should be ensured. I do not think I am misrepresenting him, though undoubtedly I shall paraphrase him unworthily, when I describe his attitude as this: "They are going to get what is good, because I will decide what they get. They may not like it at first but they will learn to like it, and a lot of the time that is all they will get". The noble Lord was fiercely attacked at the time, as some will remember a good deal better than I do; but I have yet to hear anyone look back and deny his success. Large numbers of people in this country who had never heard great music before, listened to concerts in their homes and came to feel its spell; the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, and I, did not, but that was not the fault of the music. People listened Ito drama and became proud of Shakespeare. They listened to opera, and determined to see it, as well.

My noble friend Lord Rochdale described how this whole effect has been carried forward into our present time. They heard lectures on science and history and their interest was caught. They were offered lessons in foreign languages and some of them took those lessons. At certain times of the day these things were all they could get. There was no token there of the balanced programme which the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, admired in sound broadcasting and would like, quite reasonably, to see extended to television. But I am not conscious of being unduly sophistical when I submit that this arbitrary, almost dictatorial, raising of a nation's taste—this forced discovery of some of the world's gifts, effected through a new and powerful medium, directed by a powerful and determined man—made possible the entirely new and even opposite approach in our own epoch.


My Lords, that is not the point we have been making. Surely, the point we have been making to-day is that on television, this wonderful medium, the many varied minorities should have something to see at a reasonable hour. It is not necessarily a question of raising standards.


My Lords, if the noble Lord will forgive me, that is the point I am making. Sir Robert Frazer, the Director-General of I.T.A., has quoted Edmund Burke in saying: It is the prerogative of man to be in a great degree a creature of his own making. It had been the conviction of the noble Lord, Lord Reith, that he had a duty in the Reithian era to make men aware of what was available to them to their own common creation. That was done, on a national scale. I hope I can say without presumption that the duty we have inherited is to ensure that it continues to be available, and that also is being done. The future patterns of distribution, the control and accessibility, the fixing of minimum levels and the financing are matters of interest to Parliament on which Her Majesty's Government have recently sought advice. But the current output and availability of thoughtful programmes is a matter of clear statistics, statistics which I hope may be a source of pride to the noble Lord, Lord Reith, and to those who have followed him both in the B.B.C. and the I.T.A., with their programme companies. There is a greater volume, more hours of good, high-standard broadcasting, going out to-day than even that man of vision may have foreseen. It is available to those who want it, much of it at hours when large numbers are viewing.

Taking this particular week as an example, we find that viewers in the London area are offered, by the B.B.C., 19 hours of serious, programmes, not counting religious and news transmissions and services to schools, which in their turn add up to another 13¾ hours. Independent Television provides 11¼ hours of serious programmes, plus 10 hours of religious and news and school programmes. If we count in 7¾ hours each for both the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. for children's broadcasting, that adds up to a total of 40½ hours on the B.B.C. and 29 hours on the I.T.A. I have reached these figures as honestly as I can. They do not exactly compare with the three-to-one ratio discovered by the noble Earl, Lord Longford. For noble Lords who are, however, sceptical of my figures, I will, of course, catalogue privately the programmes from which these figures are built up. But in any case they are, I think, figures of which we can be proud. They would be less significant, of course. if the audience figures for serious programmes were disappointing; but that is not so. The B.B.C.'s celebrated "Panorama" is watched in 2,788,000 homes. Its opposite number, "This Week" is watched in 4,379,000; and "Questions in the House" in which your Lordships' deliberations and those of another place are described, goes into 2,254,000 homes, reaching about 64 million people.

I am not going into the matter of the TAM and Aided Recall system of audience research. I have had described to me the advantages and disadvantages of both; but this is certainly not a moment in which to go into that. One of the precious pieces of lore culled at great expense by the television industry and given to me, completely free, in the past few days was that the optimum period during which any performer could hope to hold the interest of his audience was 21 minutes. My Lords, I have a heavy overdraft. I hope I shall not utterly bankrupt myself of your patience if I state very shortly the conviction that I have formed in the past few days, and with which I should dearly like to carry the noble Lords, Lord Shepherd and Lord Shackleton. I think Independent Television as a concept and as a system has justified itself. I believe it was needed when it came and that its results are a dynamic, highly efficient and highly responsible industry. I think the claims and counter-claims, the challenges and counter-challenges, and even the taunts and counter-taunts, between the two Services are the outward signs of healthy and productive competition.


That is the view of the Government.


My Lords, it was right, in the view of the Government, to set up independent Television, and we are very pleased at having done so. All those whom I have met working inside the B.B.C. or the I.T.A. or its programme companies—executives, programme producers and technicians—are determined to put as much as they have into the industry, to raise its quality and its status. There is a common enthusiasm to all of them in both services. What and when the next stage of expansion is to be, we shall have to decide in a year or two. In the meantime, I am certain that those in both services will be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, as will Sir Harry Pilkington and his Committee, to those who have spoken in this debate. The Committee will be grateful for the opportunity which has been given to your Lordships' House to air its views.

By way of anticlimax, which I am perfectly certain would kill any television script, I should like to say that I am personally grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd for obliging me to venture into this new and perplexing world, a world which is, at one and the same time, concealed in our midst, and yet enfolds and affects us all; a world peopled by enthusiasts, and—thank heaven!—highly intelligent and responsible enthusiasts.

9.47 p.m.


My Lords, I must first of all thank all those noble Lords, from all parts of the House, who have taken part in this debate. It has been a stimulating debate—at least I hope so—from the beginning to the end, in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald; and, with his usual kindness, he has put up with a good deal of interruption. I must say that in some respects I was disappointed with the reply, but I think he made the best of a bad job; and no doubt his performance this evening may find him a high position in the Government of the day. But if he fails there I am sure he will find a post in one of these media.


I am far too old!


My Lords, I would tell the noble Lord that both the noble Lord, Lord Strang, and myself are quite unsatisfied with his explanation regarding external services, and I can promise him and the Government that we will do what is known as an "Elibank". As your Lordships will remember, the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, carried on, week after week, month after month and year after year, putting down questions on trade with China. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Strang, will join with me and some others in doing the same thing until, like Lord Elibank, we achieve some success.


My Lords, if I may interrupt the noble Lord, is this a "private fight", or may anybody join in?


My Lords, to-day's debate has been everybody's debate. If anybody believes in this, here is their opportunity to join in. I do not know whether I should withdraw my Motion. No doubt if I did not do so I could get some Papers, which I could send to the Pilkington Committee. But I am told that they are sometimes very bulky, and in these circumstances, I think that, in wisdom I will ask leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.