HC Deb 26 June 1989 vol 155 cc325-6W
Mr. Wray

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what response he is giving to representations against the proposed auction of broadcasting licences to the highest bidder and to calls for the protection of quality of television programmes.

Mr. Renton

The case for allocating television licences by competitive tender and the steps which we propose to preserve quality programming are set out in our White Paper "Broadcasting in the '90s: Competition, Choice and Quality". In the statement my right hon. Friend made to the House on 13 June on the future of commercial television at columns710–15 he announced further ways in which quality would be safeguarded, notably by strengthening the quality threshold which all applicants for licences would have first to satisfy; by giving the Independent Television Commission power in exceptional circumstances not to accept the highest bid; and by requiring the successful applicant to post a substantial performance bond which would be liable to forfeiture if programme quality requirements are not met. Taken together these proposals represent substantial safeguards for the delivery of quality programmes.