B.B.C. Play (Postponement)

Oral Answers to Questions — Wireless and Television – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th July 1967.

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Photo of Mr Desmond Donnelly Mr Desmond Donnelly , Pembrokeshire 12:00 am, 13th July 1967

asked the Postmaster-General why he instructed the British Broadcasting Corporation to postpone the showing of the television play depicting the trial of the Soviet writers Sinyavsky and Daniel.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

No such instruction has been given to the B.B.C.

Photo of Mr Desmond Donnelly Mr Desmond Donnelly , Pembrokeshire

Is the Postmaster-General aware, nevertheless, that the B. B.C. has received approaches from Soviet sources which have caused the Corporation to alter its programmes? In view of the very grave implications of this form of censorship, will he take steps to see that the B.B.C. do not do this sort of thing again?

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

I think that all that happened here was that the Russian Government made known to the Foreign Office its view of the Sinyavsky and Daniel programme. The Foreign Office passed it on to the B.B.C. without any comment of any kind. I carried out a very careful check indeed, and no Government Department exerted any pressure whatsoever on the B.B.C.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

None the less, would not the Postmaster-General agree that the B.B.C. showed a remarkable sensitivity to these representations from the Russian authorities which contrast very sharply to the barbaric treatment that the Russians are according Gerald Brooke?

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

I really do not see what the tragic case of Mr. Brooke has to do with it. But hon. Members opposite cannot have it both ways. Week by week they complain of the insensitivity of the B.B.C. I repeat, they cannot have it both ways.