Granada Television

Oral Answers to Questions — National Heritage – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd March 1993.

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Photo of Mr Brian Sedgemore Mr Brian Sedgemore , Hackney South and Shoreditch 12:00 am, 22nd March 1993

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what plans he has to meet the chairman of the Independent Television Commission to discuss the licence of Granada Television.

Photo of Mr Brian Sedgemore Mr Brian Sedgemore , Hackney South and Shoreditch

Can the Minister explain why Sir George Russell, the chairman of the Independent Television Commission seems determined to give in to Granada Television's slippery and disingenuous response to the meticulously researched document produced by my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd), which outlines breaches in its licence? Is he aware that Granada has expressed an interest in buying into Yorkshire Television? Will he halt all developments in that sphere, pending an inquiry into the reasons why Sir George Russell granted that company a licence when his staff presented him with a document questioning Yorkshire Television's viability?

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke Secretary of State for National Heritage

In the context of the hon. Gentleman's extravagant language, the phrase "give in" is irrelevant, not least since the Independent Television Commission is fulfilling a quasi-judicial function. The second part of the hon. Gentleman's question is also a matter for the ITC.

Photo of Mr David Sumberg Mr David Sumberg , Bury South

Instead of listening to those hon. Members who have no connection with the north-west of England, which is the area served by Granada Television——

Photo of Mr David Sumberg Mr David Sumberg , Bury South

Will my right hon. Friend take it from me that I have not received one word of criticism about the quality of Granada Television from my constituents in Bury, South who, like me, will warmly welcome the fact that the ITC has roundly and completely rejected the unfounded criticism from the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Sedgemore) and other Opposition Members?

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke Secretary of State for National Heritage

The hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Sedgemore) has declared his interest in the matter in his own inimitable way. I am grateful for the endorsement that my hon. Friend gave in his question.

Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

When very senior Granada personnel come to me and detail breaches of the company's licence, and when those same people are totally unconvinced by Granada's response, surely the ITC has a statutory duty to act rather than to accept wholesale misleading information? Why does the Secretary of State not admit that the Government and the ITC have made a complete mess of the licence applications, so that there are serious problems at Granada Television, Yorkshire Television and Tyne Tees Television? If there is a secret and explosive document—I know that there is, and that it relates to the financial viability of those companies—should it not be published so that we can see for ourselves whether the ITC has acted lawfully and with integrity? Or is there something to hide?

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke Secretary of State for National Heritage

The hon. Lady referred to the ITC's statutory duty to act. She submitted a series of charges to the ITC, to which it responded and effectively disagreed with her. In that respect, the ITC has fulfilled its statutory duty.