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Television Programmes (Invitations To The Prime Minister)

Volume 720: debated on Tuesday 16 November 1965

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Q4.

asked the Prime Minister how many invitations he has accepted to appear in his capacity as Prime Minister on British Broadcasting Corporation and Independent Television programmes.

The information is being collected and I will communicate with the hon. Member.

I congratulate the Prime Minister on his undoubted dexterity as a television performer, but will he tell us what plans he has for providing equal time for those whose views may differ from his own, whether he has received any observations from Lord Norman-brook on the subject of over-exposure, and whether he will comment on the recent use on the television screen of a disgraceful four-letter word?

No question of four-letter words has appeared or ever will in any of my performances on television, to which this Question refers. I am only too well aware of my inadequacies on television, but I have not yet fallen to the point where I need the hon. Gentleman as a scriptwriter.

Would not the Prime Minister agree that, while everybody has a right to protest to the B.B.C. about its conduct, it is extremely important that we should encourage and support independent decisions by the B.B.C. and that we in political parties should not try and decide what is appropriate or inappropriate in this type of broadcast? If the broadcasting authorities go seriously wrong, no doubt the matter can be raised in debate, but surely the more decisions the B.B.C. takes independently on as many points as it likes, the better.

Certainly. I am aware that there have not been many complaints about the performance of Independent Television and, indeed, the impartiality shown in all these matters by the Chairman. But I think that the ground rules, if there must be ground rules, should be worked out by consultation between the principal parties in this House and then by the television authorities. Subject to that, I agree with what the right hon. Gentleman has said.