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Line Standards

Volume 643: debated on Wednesday 28 June 1961

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5.

asked the Postmaster-General to what extent he receives regular advice from his Television Advisory Committee on the question of line standards.

The Television Advisory Committee's last advice to me on the question of line standards was given in its Report of 1960, a copy of which was sent to the hon. Member on 1st June last year. The Television Advisory Committee is still considering the question of the technical parameters for 625-line television, but the question of future line definition in all its aspects is now, of course, before the Pilkington Committee.

Having taken note of that Report, is the Minister aware that the Committee gave him very strong advice that it would be in the best interests of television if we switched from 405 to 625 lines? Bearing in mind that, by making the change, we could provide better definition, we could come into line with European standards and, also, we could give our television industry a better exporting chance, is it not obvious that this will be a recommendation from the Pilkington Committee, and ought not the Minister to short-circuit it now by asking for an immediate recommendation?

I do not think that anything is obvious in the world of politics and government, but, nevertheless, what the hon. Gentleman has said is not unwelcome to me personally. I have given a great deal of thought to the matter and I am sure the Pilkington Committee has given even more thought to it. It is perfectly open to the Pilkington Committee to give me an interim report on this important aspect of television if it wishes. I would rather not add to that now.

Time is most important in this matter. We have had fourteen years of development of colour television by the British Broadcasting Corporation, and the Corporation is dependent upon a switch from 405 to 625 lines. If we could now have an interim report from the Pilkington Committee before its main report, which is due about twelve months' hence, would that not be a great advantage to the television industry as a whole?

I simply say that I am just as conscious of that consideration as is the hon. Gentleman.