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