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Children's Radio

Volume 300: debated on Monday 10 November 1997

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What representations he has received on proposals for a children's radio channel; and if he will make a statement. [13432]

We have received representations from nine organisations and individuals in support of the award of an independent national radio licence for the provision of a children's radio service.

I thank the Minister for that answer and for the reply that I received earlier by letter. Do the Government recognise the many benefits, both educational and in general, that children receive from radio broadcasting for them?

Having been brought up on "Children's Hour", Uncle Mac and "Dick Barton, Special Agent", I agree absolutely with my hon. Friend that high-quality broadcasting, both radio and television, is important for children. It plays a major part in education, widens a child's horizons and sparks a child's imagination. Above all, it is fun.

Is the Minister aware that the BBC's children's television programme budget has been cut by £5 million since last year? Does he worry about the increased number of cartoons shown on television? Has not the time come for him to examine that issue as well as the question of a children's radio station?

The BBC charter requires the BBC to produce a large amount of high-quality, original programming and last year it produced 1,500 hours of children's programming of very high quality. I presume that the hon. Gentleman is referring to the Broadcasting Standards Council's report. Both he and I need to study that report in some detail, because some of the original headlines were not borne out by the detail of the report. Indeed, in the Evening Standard today, the BBC puts a robust case and points out that only one cartoon show is on at prime time each day this week, with none at all on Wednesday.