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Broadcasting

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th May 1965.

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Photo of Mr William Shepherd Mr William Shepherd , Cheadle 12:00 am, 13th May 1965

Yes. I think that it would be refreshing to have someone look at an organisation which tends to be rather inward-looking. I think that that is a very good idea. When my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Robert Cooke) has been engaged in activities himself, he will realise that he is apt to think that all he does is the best in the best of all possible worlds and that he cannot be taught anything about its operation. This is not true. As one who does not think that the B.B.C. is inefficient, I would like to see a commercial organisation look at this set-up. I am convinced that some administrative savings could readily be made.

It is not that point of criticism with which I am concerned, nor with the apparent failure to judge things as well now as they used to do. There have been two examples of faulty judgment in the B.B.C. which give rise to some concern. The first was the planning of B.B.C.2. Many people without all the knowledge of those within the B.B.C. and without their experience could have said that the original concept of shoving one lot of programmes on one night and another on the next night was calculated to invite failure. But the B.B.C. went into this, hook, line and sinker, with a very large investment of money. It has been, on the whole, a badly designed programme which has caused a great deal of loss of morale in the B.B.C. It is an example of the faulty judgment which has pervaded the Corporation in the last few years.

Another programme which caused a great deal of concern was "Not so Much a Programme …". I shall not here refer to the contents of the programme, but surely anyone with any reasonable measure of understanding of the problems of producing this sort of entertainment—if entertainment it be—would not say that this was a programme which they would produce three nights a week. But the B.B.C. again rushed into a decision which was clearly faulty and which any reasonably intelligent layman outside would have regarded as being extremely questionable.

The matter to which I particularly want to address myself is not faulty judgments—we all make mistakes in life and those who do not are those who do nothing—but the deplorable level to which B.B.C. taste has sunk in recent years. I am concerned about this because, whether it likes it or not, the B.B.C. is the mirror of life in this community. It must act in the knowledge that what it does and says is looked upon as reflecting the standards of our existence in Great Britain. Frankly, in these last years, there has been a deplorable failure to maintain the levels which could reasonably be expected from a national institution of this kind.