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Wireless And Television

Volume 655: debated on Tuesday 13 March 1962

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Independent Television (Programmes)


asked the Postmaster-General if in view of the poor quality of entertainment programmes now transmitted by the Independent Television companies, he will take powers to ensure an improvement of such programmes.

No, Sir. Under the Television Act it is the duty of the I.T.A. to satisfy itself that so far as possible its programmes maintain a proper balance in their subject matter and a high general standard of quality. The Authority assures my right hon. Friend that the provisions of the Act are being complied with.

Has the right hon. Gentleman satisfied himself that the Authority is carrying out its responsibilities? Is the Minister not aware that too many old films are being used for the sole purpose of aiding the companies in their fight with Equity? Will not the Minister have a very close look at the position in order to save himself from being exposed to the charge of strikebreaking? Will not he take the necessary powers to see that his Department is not used in that way?

Is is the duty of the Authority and not of my right hon. Friend to see that a correct balance is kept. We all admit that the entertainment value of these films is a matter of personal judgment. Ultimately, the viewer is the final arbiter, and he has the choice of turning to the alternative programme.

Is not the hon. Lady aware that some of these I.T.A. programmes—especially under regional contractors—are rapidly becoming a bore solely because they consist of repeated Westerns and old films? If her Department is not prepared to do anything about it, will not she consult the Television Advisory Committee in order to see what its observations are?

I can assure the hon. Member that we watch these things very carefully indeed.

Reception, North Antrim


asked the Postmaster-General what plans he has for improved television reception along the north Antrim coast, and particularly at Ballycastle.

Both the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. are well aware of the poor reception conditions in Ballycastle and other places on the North Antrim coast, and have the area in mind in their planning of future stations.

Will my hon. Friend please encourage the B.B.C. to give the highest priority to its service in this area? The North Antrim coast is a well-known resort and visitors are being driven away by the impossibly bad television reception there.

I am sure that the B.B.C. will take note of what my hon. Friend has said.

Advertisements (Smoking)


asked the Postmaster-General, in view of the danger to health involved in cigarette smoking, recent evidence of which is contained in the Report of the Royal College of Physicians, a copy of which has been sent to him, if he will take steps to amend the Second Schedule to the Television Act, 1954, to deal with cigarette advertising.

As mentioned yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, the Government are studying the measures recommended in the Report of the Royal College of Physicians which include restriction of tobacco advertising. My right hon. Friend cannot make any statement at this stage with regard to such advertising on television.

But has not the hon. Lady herself observed the linking of romance, sex appeal and cigarette smoking in a deliberate appeal to young people on this the most powerful medium for influencing ideas the world has ever known? Should not the Government at least implement this part of the Royal College's Report by completely banning cigarette advertising on television?

We all have this problem very much in mind, but my right hon. Friend cannot make any further statement at the present time.

Can we have an early statement from the Postmaster-General on this aspect? Is it not rather silly to send out circulars to local authorities begging them to take action while at the same time the television programmes are counteracting the effect of those circulars?

My right hon. Friend is looking at this matter with the greatest urgency.

Will the hon. Lady represent to the I.T.A. that it might try to find actors who are capable of acting on television without continually having cigarettes in their mouths, or bottles or glasses in their hands?

I am sure that the Authority will take note of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks.