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.