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Broadcasting Criteria (Olympic Games)

Volume 979: debated on Thursday 28 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what criteria he observes in deciding when to seek to intervene to dissuade the BBC and ITA from broadcasting certain events;(2) if he will hold wide-ranging discussions prior to making any firm representation to the broadcasting authorities about the coverage of the Olympic Games;(3) if he has discussed the broadcasting of the Olympic Games with the BBC and ITA or if he intends so to do;(4) when was the last occasion a British Government sought to dissuade the BBC or ITA from broadcasting any particular programme.

The two broadcasting authorities have editorial responsibility for the content of their programmes, subject to the law and within the general rules prescribed by the charter and licence and agreement for the British Broadcasting Corporation and by Act of Parliament for the Independent Broadcasting Authority. It would be contrary to long-established practice, endorsed by successive Governments, for Ministers to seek to influence them in deciding what to broadcast. It is, therefore, for the two authorities alone to decide what cover to give to the Moscow Olympics. I understand that they issued a joint statement on 24 January in which they said that they had decided to act jointly in any review which might become necessary of their planned coverage of the Moscow Olympic Games; and that such a review would take account of any changes in the nature of the Games or of British participation in them.