HC Deb 02 November 1959 vol 612 cc13-4W
53. Mr. Ross

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps he has taken to ensure adequacy and efficacy of British information services in the Arabian Peninsula.

Dr. Hill

With my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs and the Colonies, I have given special attention to the information services in the Arabian Peninsula, and in September, 1958, I visited Aden for this purpose. As a result these services have been substantially strengthened.

The changes, fuller details of which are given below, include increase in daily broadcasting hours of the B.B.C. service in Arabic from 4½ in 1957 to 12 today; changes of emphasis and method in broadcasting; a new relay station at Berbera; expansion of the Aden Broadcasting Service; increased information establishments; a new British Council Centre at Bahrein; and a general expansion of Press, film, radio-tape, publications and photographic services to the area.

Following are the details: The B.B.C.'s Arabic service has been reviewed in consultation with the Corporation. As a result, broadcasting hours have been increased since 1957 from 4½ to 12 hours daily, increased news coverage is being given to events of local significance, and efforts have been made to increase the local and general appeal of the service as a whole. A new relay transmitter which will strengthen the signal of the Arabic service is being built at Berbera in the Somali-land Protectorate and is expected to be ready early next year. The Aden Broadcasting Service has received grants from Colonial Development and Welfare funds amounting to £110,000 since 1954. The service is steadily expanding. It now broadcasts for nine hours daily and it is hoped to increase this to ten hours daily in 1960–61. The service includes relays of B.B.C. Arabic programmes and transcription material in Arabic now being made available by the B.B.C. and the United Kingdom official information services. Foreign Office information establishments in the Persian Gulf have been increased. Two mobile information units provided by a grant of £11,000 from Colonial Development and Welfare funds are now operating in the Aden Protectorate. A new British Council Centre has been opened at Bahrein, and more books and periodicals are being supplied to the Council's Centre at Aden. The Press, radio-tape, films, publications and photographic services of the Central Office of Information for posts in the Arabian Peninsula have been expanded and transmission methods improved.