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Bbc (Policy And Finance)

Volume 728: debated on Wednesday 18 May 1966

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asked the Postmaster-General when the White Paper on Broadcasting policy will be published.

33 and 34.

asked the Postmaster-General (1) if he will make a further statement regarding the British Broadcasting Corporation's finances;

(2) when the committee considering the future of broadcasting will report.

As I said in the debate on 3rd March, the B.B.C. has put to the Government proposals which, it believes, would enable the licence fee to be kept at the present level of £5 for the next two years or so. I am discussing with the Corporation the assumptions on which these proposals are founded. The other unresolved and major issues of broadcasting policy should be considered along with the problem of B.B.C. finance. We will announce our proposals to the House when the whole of our review is complete.

Is it not possible for the right hon. Gentleman to give a better approximate date as to when an announcement will be forthcoming, as the delay is holding back many developments in broadcasting? Does he recall that on 3rd March he said that the main problem holding back the White Paper was B.B.C. finance? Is it possible to make some kind of interim announcement?

I should naturally like to make an announcement as soon as I can, but I think that the hon. Member realises that hours of television broadcasting, local broadcasting and matters such as the fourth network are all very much tied to the question of B.B.C. finance, and I must ask the House to be patient a little longer.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we are becoming increasingly mystified about this committee, about which he seems to know so little? Is he a member of it? We were promised this report, I think, in January. On and on we go. Can he say within six months when it may be published?