B.B.C. Programmes (Consultations)

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 Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Norfolk Central 12:00 am, 13th July 1967

asked the Postmaster-General what guidance has been given to the British Broadcasting Cor- poration about programmes that might cause difficulty to Her Majesty's Government in their dealings with other countries.

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

So as to enable the B.B.C. to plan and prepare its programmes in the External Services in the national interest, Clause 14(5) of the Corporation's Licence and Agreement requires it to consult the overseas Departments. This consultation is a continuing process.

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Norfolk Central

As the B.B.C. was prevented from broadcasting Svetlana Stalin's letter to Pasternak because of the Foreign Secretary's visit to Russia, will not the Postmaster-General agree that this sort of governmental pressure is highly undesirable upon a supposedly independent organisation?

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

No; the hon. Gentleman is quite wrong about this. The reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) applies to this Question as well. The B.B.C. was made aware of a comment made by the Russian Government to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary when he was in Moscow, but no pressure was put on the B.B.C.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Is my right hon. Friend aware that quite recently the Chief Whip, otherwise known as the Patronage Secretary, complained to the producers of the B.B.C. programme "The World at One", not only about the nature of the programme, which apparently he did not like, but also about those who participated in the programme, namely, right hon. and hon. Gentlemen? Does not my right hon. Friend think this is an unwarrantable intrusion?

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

The Question deals with external services. The Clause I quoted from the Licence and Agreement deals with external services as well.