Overseas Broadcasting Services

Oral Answers to Questions — Government Information Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th November 1960.

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Photo of Mr Christopher Mayhew Mr Christopher Mayhew , Woolwich East 12:00 am, 14th November 1960

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what was the cost, in real terms, of the British Broadcasting Corporation's Overseas Services in 1945–46, 1950–51, and 1959–60.

Photo of Dr Charles Hill Dr Charles Hill , Luton

Figures are not available for 1945–46. Taking into account changes in the Consumer Price Index, the 1959–60 provision becomes £5·0 million, compared with £4·7 million in 1950–51. The actual 1959–60 provision was £6·7 million.

Photo of Mr Christopher Mayhew Mr Christopher Mayhew , Woolwich East

Is the Chancellor of the Duchy aware that, so far as effectiveness goes, these overseas broadcasts are widely regarded as the best in the world? Why, then, do the Government tamely stand by while other countries, including, for instance, China, overtake this country in the amount of broadcasting they do?

Photo of Dr Charles Hill Dr Charles Hill , Luton

I think it a mistake to measure the efficacy of overseas broadcasting solely in terms of hours. The hon. Gentleman will realise, taking the information effort as a whole, including overseas broadcasts, expenditure in the last three years has increased from £13 million to £17½ million.

Photo of Mr Christopher Mayhew Mr Christopher Mayhew , Woolwich East

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what is the cost to public funds of the British Broadcasting Corporation's overseas sound transcription service and television transcription service, respectively.

Photo of Dr Charles Hill Dr Charles Hill , Luton

£251,000 for the B.B.C. sound transcription service. The export of television material is a commercial activity of the Corporation and makes no call on public funds.

Photo of Mr Christopher Mayhew Mr Christopher Mayhew , Woolwich East

Why, when the Government have successfully and effectively subsidised sound transcription services, do they refuse to subsidise the even more important television services?

Photo of Dr Charles Hill Dr Charles Hill , Luton

That is not wholly true. It is true that the B.B.C. itself sells material overseas on a commercial basis, but, in so far as television film work is concerned, the Government purchase both from the B.B.C. and from the independent companies material which they use overseas. Indeed, there is £17,000 in the Estimates this year for that purpose.

Photo of Mr Christopher Mayhew Mr Christopher Mayhew , Woolwich East

If I may say so, the reply of the right hon. Gentleman is greatly misleading, for the two things are exactly on all fours. The B.B.C. sells sound transcription; why should it not get the same subsidy for television as for sound?

Photo of Dr Charles Hill Dr Charles Hill , Luton

The B.B.C. can sell material to the C.O.I., which buys and distributes it overseas under the system I referred to just now. The system is that the C.O.I. purchases the material both from the B.B.C. and I.T.A. for use overseas. In that way the material is made available to those countries to which the B.B.C. cannot sell its material on a commercial basis.

Photo of Sir John Hall Sir John Hall , Wycombe

Would my right hon. Friend agree that it might be to the advantage of this country if Her Majesty's Government helped to subsidise some television stations for transmission overseas?

Photo of Dr Charles Hill Dr Charles Hill , Luton

That is quite another and much more difficult question.