HL Deb 10 May 1977 vol 383 cc159-61

2.47 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much money in hard and soft currency did British Television Authorities spend in the last 12 months for which figures are available, in the hire or purchase of foreign (especially American) features, to show to the British public, and what is the reciprocal amount collected by Britain in selling and/or hiring out feature films for showing in foreign countries in the same period.


My Lords, the questions of programme content, and in particular the purchase of foreign feature films, are matters, as the noble Lord will know, for the broadcasting authorities. Section 4(1)(c) of the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act 1973 requires the IBA to satisfy itself that the programmes broadcast by the Authority include proper proportions of material of British origin and performance. The BBC acknowledges similar obligations under its licence and agreement. The Department of Industry undertakes an annual inquiry relating to the production and exhibition of cinematograph films and television material. Their most recent report, for 1975, was published in Trade and Industry dated 20th August 1976. From this inquiry figures are available which I will, with permission, circulate in the Official Report as they are substantial.


My Lords, I am very much obliged and very grateful for that helpful and carefully worded reply. It is good to know that, on the whole, we are on the right side. Am I right in that assumption?


Yes, my Lords. If I could give one figure which might be helpful, receipts from overseas, including North America, for all purposes, of completed programmes and the production of films in 1975 came to £45.1 million. Of that amount, £20.5 million came from North America. So far as the outgoing amount was concerned, the total was only £10.8 million as against an income of £45.1 million. Of that £,10.8 million, payments to North America amounted to £5.5 million. There are more figures which will be included in the Official Report.


I am very grateful, my Lords; and I am very glad I asked the Question, too.

Following are the figures referred to:

Television Screening Rights and Performance Performance in Cinemas Total Production of films and programmes Total
Receipts from overseas residents
BBC and ITV(a) 10.3 10.3 2.3 12.6
Film companies 1.6 21.0 22.6 9.9 32.5
Total 11.9 21.0 32.9 12.2 45.1
of which North America
BBC and ITV(a) 2.9 2.9 1.4 4.3
Film companies N/A N/A 10.6 5.6 16.2
Total N/A N/A 13.5 7.0 20.5
Payments to overseas residents
BBC and ITV(a) 5.0 5.0 5.8 10.8
of which to North America 3.6 3.6 1.9 5.5
N/A indicates information not collected.

(a) Includes transactions in respect of BBC sound broadcasting and Independent Television News.

Source: Departments of Industry, Trade, and Prices and Consumer Protection annual enquiry into overseas transactions relating to the production and exhibition of cinematograph films and television material in 1975.