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Regional News Programmes

Volume 570: debated on Thursday 7 November 2013

7. If the Commission will take steps to enable hon. Members to receive in their Commons offices live regional BBC and other regional television news programmes covering constituencies outside London and the south-east in place of Sky Sports channels. (900969)

My hon. Friend has been dogged in her efforts to get her local BBC news shown here, and I am delighted to tell her that work to expand and modernise the Annunciator service is currently under way with the intention of switching to a digital service, following the national digital switchover, to ensure compatibility with television services such as subtitles. The upgrade will also provide the opportunity to develop the service, and it is proposed that the channels available be expanded to include all regional BBC 1 channels, whose broadcasts include regional news programmes, and some key international channels.

At the moment, our constituents have to pay £50 a month to get Sky Sports beamed into their own homes, otherwise they have to go down the pub, so I am not sure why we have it beamed into all our offices on the parliamentary estate. I am pleased that we are finally dealing with the need of MPs with constituencies outside London and the south-east to have access to our regional TV news programmes, but when will this actually happen?

On the last point, we hope that the service will be provided next year. On the other point, Sky Sports is provided free by Sky, so we do not actually pay for it, but all my hon. Friend’s other points will be dealt with.