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Broadcasting

Volume 480: debated on Wednesday 15 November 1950

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Airmet Service

3.

asked the Postmaster-General what progress has been achieved towards the restitution of the Airmet system of broadcasts.

12.

asked the Postmaster-General if he will now make a further statement about the possibility of restoring the Airmet broadcast service.

14.

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware of the continued disappointment amongst farmers, fishermen, airmen and civil engineers by the suspension of the Airmet broadcasts; and what plans he has in hand for restoring this service.

I am aware that the Airmet service was of value to various sections of the community who are anxious to see the facilities restored. I regret, however, that as stated in my reply to the hon. Member for Stratford (Mr. Profumo) on 18th October, it has not been found practicable to make any broadcasting frequency available for the restoration of the Airmet service.

The possibility of improving the weather information available to the public is being considered in conjunction with other departments and the B.B.C., and I understand that some amplification of the B.B.C. weather forecasts will be introduced shortly.

In view of the need for more frequent weather bulletins, has the right hon. Gentleman considered either the possibility of getting a wave-length on, say, the 49 metre band or, in view of infringement of the agreement by Russia, of using some of the Russian wavelengths?

The new weather broadcast will commence next Sunday, and I should like hon. Members to consider the result of that. Perhaps they might raise the matter again if it is not satisfactory.

Interference

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that interference from the British Broadcasting Corporation's European Service is spoiling reception of the Light Programme in the Scarborough area; and what steps he will take to remedy this.

The B.B.C. has had no evidence of any persistent interference from its transmissions to Europe with reception in the Scarborough area of the Light Programme on 1500 metres, 200 kc/s., the wavelength intended to serve this area. There has, however, been some evidence of occasional interference, and the B.B.C. is investigating the matter. If the hon. Member has any specific information about the interference, I should be glad to have it.

Is the Postmaster-General aware that licence holders in the Scarborough area feel they are not getting value for their money, and that he may find they are very reluctant to renew their licences unless he can improve these services?

10.

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that the persistent interference, believed to be from Russia or Spain, experienced in the Yorkshire coastal area, is ruining reception on the North Regional Programme; and what steps he is taking to remedy this.

I am aware of this interference, and I have made representations to the Administrations concerned.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, although there was a temporary improvement, it is now worse than ever, and that last night there was keen and rather successful competition with the nine o'clock news by a choir from abroad? Will he consider establishing a subsidiary relay station in the area?

We have got rid of the Spanish interference, but I am afraid we now have renewed Russian activity. We have written to the Russians, drawing their attention to this, and we shall have to consider other steps.

Will the Minister reply to my question—whether he will consider establishing a subsidiary station?

Is the Minister aware that these difficulties are not confined to the North-East coast but are very noticeable on the coast of Norfolk and Suffolk, where they have persisted for some time? Will he do all he can to help us?

18.

asked the Postmaster-General if his attention has been drawn to interference with British Broadcasting Corporation's programmes on the North-East coast of England; and what steps he proposes to take to correct this.

I understand from the B.B.C. that the Light and Third Programmes should, generally, be received free from interference. The Northern Home Service is unfortunately subject to interference from Spanish and Russian transmitters, and I have made representations to those Administrations.

If the Minister's representations are not successful then, in view of the inaudibility of many of these programmes, will he seriously consider reducing the cost of licences when they come to be renewed?

Is it not true that my right hon. Friend has had similar complaints from licence holders in Carlisle, and will he also look into that matter?

Aircraft And Shipping (Distress Signals)

15.

asked the Postmaster-General why he declined the offer of the Radio Society of Great Britain to assist in listening for aircraft or shipping in distress, in view of the assistance received from amateur radio operators during the search for the trawler "Milford Viscount," and when this assistance would be at no cost to the public.

The standing arrangements for the reception in the United Kingdom of signals from ships and aircraft in distress at sea are generally found to be adequate. Where it is considered advisable exceptionally to augment these arrangements, the assistance of the public, including amateur radio operators belonging to the Radio Society of Great Britain, will be invited.

Does not the Minister think that at this time it would be a wise thing to get going a system which might be very useful later? In view of the signal service which is rendered by this society, would he give them more encouragement?

This matter arose out of the loss of the "Milford Viscount." That is the subject of inquiry at present, and I think I ought not to say anything about the use of amateurs until that inquiry has been completed. There is a lot of confusion, and if these amateurs are to assist us, it must be under very strict supervision.

Bbc Staff (Aliens)

16.

asked the Postmaster-General how many persons employed by the British Broadcasting Corporation are aliens.

A total of 318 aliens are in temporary employment by the British Broadcasting Corporation.

In view of that very serious statement, the well-known Communist technique of infiltration and the enormous power for good or ill of the B.B.C., will the right hon. Gentleman, in the national interest, keep the personnel and the material broadcast under very close review?

Is it not a fact that most of these aliens were employed by the B.B.C. during the war and gave most loyal service?