HC Deb 08 July 1981 vol 8 cc139-40W
Mr. Geoffrey Johnson Smith

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will give details of the capital programme authorised for the external services of the BBC.

Mr. Luce

In a written reply on 25 June to my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Dorrell), the Minister of State my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) explained how the Government would be prepared to make a substantial increase in the present public expenditure provision for the external services on the assumption that the cost of that increase is met in part by certain savings in current operations by the BBC. The capital programme that has been drawn up on this assumption contains the main elements set out in the following list. Work has already begun on the first four projects and the last two.

Optimum date for completion Approximate total costs in £million in 1981 Survey Prices
Completion of one 500 kilowatt MF (medium wave) transmitter at Orfordness 1982
Completion of four 250 kilowatt HF (short wave) transmitters at (first two) 1982
Cyprus (second two) 1983
Equipment of overseas relay stations with satellite feeds 1985
Replacement for

Skelton 'B' transmitter station—eight 500 kilowatt HF (short wave) transmitters


Optimum date for completion Approximate total costs in £million in 1981 Survey Prices
Expansion of another United Kingdom station—six 250 kilowatt HF transmitters 1987
New relay station to

cover East Africa

New relay station to cover Far East 1988
Total for new transmitter facilities *53.3
Modernisation of Bush House 1990 17.5
Minor and General works, plant replacement etc. For the decade 31.6
Grand Total 102.4
*Detailed costs of individual transmitter projects may be subject to adjustment within this total.

Mr. David Young

asked the Lord Privy Seal what information he has as to the operation by other countries of broadcasting services of news and current affairs similar to the external services of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Mr. Luce

About 50 countries broadcast internationally. Details of the proportion of their programmes devoted to news and current affairs are not available. The total hours and numbers of languages broadcast by the six largest international broadcasters and by six other major countries—with comparisons with 1975—are as follows:

Hours per week Languages
1975 1980 Change 1980
Six Largest Broadcasters
USSR 2,001 2,094 +93 82
United States of America 2,029 1,901 -128 47
China 1,423 1,350 -73 45
Federal Republic of Germany 767 804 +37 39
United Kingdom 719 719 39
North Korea 455 597 +142 8
Other Major International Broadcasters
Australia 379 333 -46 9
Netherlands 400 289 -111 8
Japan 259 259 21
Italy 170 169 -1 29
Canada 159 134 -25 11
France 108 125 +17 6