Radio Reception (London Area)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7 May 1981.

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Photo of Mr Norman Atkinson Mr Norman Atkinson , Haringey Tottenham 12:00, 7 May 1981

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will inquire into the poor quality of radio reception in the London area and seek powers to remedy the problems caused by tall buildings.

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Royal Tunbridge Wells

I understand that the BBC and the IBA consider that reception of their radio services in London is generally satisfactory, though they are constantly seeking ways of making further improvements within the limitations imposed by the availability of frequencies. If the hon. Member has a particular reception problem in mind, and will let me have details, I will ask the appropriate broadcasting authority to look into it. My right hon. Friend has no plans to seek additional powers in this area.

Photo of Mr Norman Atkinson Mr Norman Atkinson , Haringey Tottenham

Will the Minister accept that there is universal criticism of the quality of reception throughout London and that it is getting worse? That universal criticism relates to general interference and to the signal strengths used and applies to all wavelengths, long, medium and ultra-short. I understand that many property developers pay no attention to the need to equip their buildings with reflectors and other means whereby they could contribute towards improved reception in those areas of London where there are tall buildings. Will the Minister reconsider the question that he should himself institute an inquiry to see what can be done to improve services?

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Royal Tunbridge Wells

I note what the hon. Gentleman says. The coverage of their respective radio services is primarily a matter for the broadcasting authorities. The authorities try to provide a stronger signal in urban areas wherever possible to compensate for higher electrical noise levels. I know that the BBC has work in hand to improve reception of its VHF radio services on portable and car radios. I am sure that the corporation will note what has been said.

Photo of Mr Jock Stallard Mr Jock Stallard , Camden St Pancras North

I would like to press the Minister to be more positive in his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson). It is our experience in London that reception is deteriorating. The complacency in the attitude of the BBC and the IBA should be seriously considered by the Minister. The hon. and learned Gentleman should examine the points raised by my hon. Friend to see whether he can intervene to improve reception in inner London areas.

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Royal Tunbridge Wells

I believe that hard evidence needs to be provided for the authorities and, indeed, the Home Office to show where reception is bad. Such evidence would be noted and acted upon. I have already said that the view of the authorities is that reception of their services in London is generally satisfactory. If that is wrong, they should be informed.