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Television (Colour And Linage)

Volume 640: debated on Friday 12 May 1961

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asked the Postmaster-General (1) what discussions he has had with television authorities in Europe, particularly France, on the question of adopting a standard 625 line system, in view of the fact that France has some monochrome production on 819 lines at the moment;(2) if he is aware of the developments of coloured television in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; and to what extent his engineers are in touch with Russian developments and experiments in this field;(3) if he is aware of the Czechoslovakian intention to have a national coverage of their national games on coloured television by 1964; and to what extent his Post Office engineers have been in touch with these developments;(4) what information he has on the developments of coloured television in the United States of America; and whether they are developing on similar lines to that of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

My engineers are in close touch with other European administrations, including France, Czechoslovakia and the U.S.S.R., on the development of colour television and on the question of the line standards to be used in Bands IV and V. I am well acquainted with colour television developments in the U.S.A.

asked the Postmaster-General if he will list all the reasons advanced to him from his Television Advisory Committee against the introduction of coloured television in the near future.

I would refer the hon. Member to paragraphs 43–45 of the Report of the Television Advisory Committee, 1960, a copy of which was sent to him on 1st June last year.

asked the Postmaster-General what were the details of the proposals submitted to him by the British Broadcasting Corporation on 9th December, 1960, asking for approval to start an experimental coloured television service; and if he will publish the terms of his reply.

The B.B.C. asked permission to start, in about November this year, an experimental public colour television service which initially would put out one hour of live studio programmes and up to four hours of film transmissions weekly. On the second part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton) on 14th February.

asked the Postmaster-General (1) what are the fresh proposals recently made to him by the British Broadcasting Corporation on the introduction of an experimental coloured television service;

(2) what was the nature of his reply to the British Broadcasting Corporation's recent proposals on coloured television.

The B.B.C. have made no new proposals for a colour television service; what they have done is to present their case again. As regards my reply, I would refer the hon. Member to my answer of 10th May to the hon. Member for Openshaw (Mr. W. R. Williams).

asked the Postmaster-General whether the technical subcommittee of the Television Advisory Committee have themselves considered how long it would take to effect a changeover of line standards from 405 to 625; to what extent would present television sets and the industry itself be affected; and whether they have estimated how long it would take to introduce national coverage of a coloured television service once the decision has been made.

The Technical Sub-Committee to which the hon. Member refers is a sub-committee set up by my Television Advisory Committee to advise it on various matters. It does not report to me. I would refer the hon. Member to paragraph 48 of the Report of the Television Advisory Committee, 1960, which said that "any proposed changeover to new line standards would require to be made in accordance with a long-term phased programme which should take account of the interests of the viewers, the Broadcasting Organisations and the Radio Industry. The 405-line services would need to be continued for many years so that there would be no question of 405 line receivers becoming prematurely obsolescent."