Television development

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Television Development

B-H. 

In favour (incldg. Ministers) 180. : viz., in favour of commercials.
 Those against 43. – incldg. 12 who wdn't respond to 3 line whip.
 Liberals are against it.
 Tories: 15 doubtful.  67 unknown.
 Some of anti's mght. swing over on assurances of safeguards.
 Not a v. considerable swing – but lrs. are all anti- commercial.
 The 43 have real fear tht., if benefits of commercials can't be demonstrated before next Election, things will go ill for us.

P.M. 

Free vote?

B.H. 

Worst method – because wd. use Opposn. to defeat majority of our own Party:  wd. disrupt Party unity.

P.M.

Cd. be accompanied by Decln. tht. impartiality of B.B.C. cd. be assured.
 Wd.  you sooner be beaten, with whips on, than allow free vote.

M.F. 

I advocated sponsoring when we got 28 majority.  Severe confession of  weakness to change policy now.  Especially in face of C.R.A's declaration that wd. have serious effect on standing of Govt.
 There is majority in H/C. in favour.  Believe equal amount of support among Tories in this country.  3/4 of television sets are owned by people with under £650 p.a.  We get 1/4 of that vote :  will help us if we curry favour with them on this.
 Advocate sticking to our guns on this.

P.M.

 Is it wrong for a Govt. to defer to a movement of opinion?

M.F. 

Believe Party cd. be swung into line.

P.M. 

Wd. you be beaten or allow free vote?

Sal.

 

Cdn't get H/L. to support this policy.  Cdn't. prevail on the opponents to refrain fr. speaking & pressing.  Believe we shd. be defeated.

 

P.M.G. 

V. doubtful – younger Peers are with us : all elder statesmen are against us.
W. If we can be given time, we shall be better able to manoeuvre.
Gallup Poll – new one, likely to produce 2:1 in favour among television set owners.
Prodn. of safeguards & conditions will satisfy many.
 Monopoly.  Go fwd. on that.

H.C. 

Is there any early need for vote.
 Why not rest on B.B.C. developmt. & slow down on commercials.
Allow public pinion to form m'while.

B.H. 

Nothg. to prevent C.R.A. fr. tabling a motion, and precipitating a vote.

P.M.

 They will precipitate it.

J.S. 

Agree they will.  And diffy. in Party if we wobble.
Attlee's speech has made it a Party issue.

P.M. 

Need we make it Party issue?

R.A.B. 

Wd. give grievance tht. competition on air has bn. ruled out.
 Give us time to explain tht. limited competn. in a single city is v. difft. from U.S. system.

P.T. 

Risk of worst of all worlds.  Favour it in principle : but don't get one effectively on air before next Election.  If that is impossible technically, then play for p'poning whole issue until after Election.

P.M.G. 

Safeguards.  I can't spk. about them until policy re-affirmed.

R.A.B. 

Party stands in favour of principle of competition in the air.
 Statement : limit that to principle :  promise further considern. of details, conditions etc.,

P.M. 

Feeling has hardened v. it. Worst time at wh. to re-affirm principle of commercials. CRA will table motion to take advantage of this situation.
Nearly all best people in country are opposed to commercial television.
Rubbish to say tht. principle of competition must apply throughout.
Much easier to shrug of a defeat if there's bn. a free vote.  Can say it isn't pol. issue.
Ch."Competition"  isn't safe principle to stand on.; For you can have that w'out sponsoring.

W. 

Why not publish the conditions?

Sw. 

More – publish the whole story of how it will work.  Incldg. fact tht. B.B.C. will continue to operate.

P.M. 

Telegram from O'Brian.

M.F. 

His Union is interested : theatres etc., Letter from V. Bonham Carter.
 A.E.'s views.

R.A.B. 

Can we stand on television enjoying competition.  And leave it uncertain wtr. the competn. is to be provided by sponsoring or not.

Sal. 

Am opposed v. strongly to sponsoring.
 R.A.B.'s plan wd. be regarded as discreditable wriggle.  WD. anger our supporters w'out pleasing others.
 WD. prefer free vote.  Immediate trouble with Party, but in long run shall get the greater credit.

B.H. 

Argument v. free vote is that majority of Tories favour commercial television and do think this is a political issue : monopoly v. competition.

Sw. 

Can we have, at another mtg.
i) revised draft statement
ii) outline of W. Paper
 Cd. R.A.B. do i) and M.F. do ii).

P.M. 

Seek means of putting this off.

H.C.

 i)   Put if off.
ii) If we can't : we shdn't put whips on, even on Ministers not in Cabt.
A big change, to be made on majority of 2 or 3.
P.M. 1)  Seek means of p'poning.
 2)  Explore R.A.B.'s idea, with a few colleagues.
 3)  Only in last resort risk a division with whips.

 

Taken from C.C. 35(53) - Meeting held on 17 June 1953.