Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Viscount Astor: They are grouped, but they are not my amendments. I have to confess that I have not read

6 Feb 1996 : Column 163

them with as much care as I might. But if anyone else wishes to speak to them with my amendment, they certainly can.

Lord Donoughue: We have not much to say on this amendment because we feel that what happened earlier on this subject rather pre-empts the field. We take that as the position. I was interested in a good deal of what the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, had to say. There was a great deal of sense in it. We have to look at the nature of the list. Indeed, on this side, we have already made a commitment that when in government we shall review the list. That is not a commitment to add or subtract, and in a later clause we have a proposal for a committee to be consulted and for the Secretary of State to consult in order to make sure that the sports do not feel they have to campaign on issues like this because they are excluded and are afraid of being there at the whim of the Secretary of State. They will have a right to express their view, as will the broadcasters and the public as well.

There are number of wider issues here which require consideration. However, on the basic issue of national access to national sporting events, the Committee has spoken.

Lord Inglewood: I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Astor for raising these points. As he said, and as was reiterated by the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue, these are important matters and they bear proper investigation and inquiry. These are the kinds of matters which we are, inter alia, planning to examine in our process of discussion and consultation.

I concur with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue. The Committee has made an important decision on the list and listed events. That has pre-empted a considerable amount of debate that could have been held profitably on my noble friend's amendment. I should merely like to thank him for raising these matters which we believe are important and into which we shall be looking.

The Earl of Halsbury: A suggestion occurs to me after listening to all the debates so far. The sudden upsurge of interest in the amendments before us this afternoon finds the Bill in a rather immature condition. That is why the Government published last week Broadcast Sports Rights: Informing the Debate. It occurs to me that, as an alternative to Report Stage and Third Reading, which are inhibited by the fact that no one can speak twice and so the cut and thrust of debate is not there, the noble Lord might consider that we re-commit this part of the Bill to a Committee of the Whole House after he has had the opportunity to organise the Government's thoughts on it.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter: I support that suggestion. I was wondering how the next stage of the Bill could be taken. It is necessary that it should be taken under conditions of flexibility, with the kind of conditions one has in Committee but not at the later stages of a Bill. As my noble friend the Minister has undertaken to produce the Government's views in a clear way at the

6 Feb 1996 : Column 164

next stage, surely we want to see that the next stage is a re-committed Committee stage rather than a Report stage.

Baroness Trumpington: Great note will be taken of both noble Lords' remarks. However, it is not for me to say. It is a matter for the usual channels. We are of course anxious to get on with the passage of the Bill.

Viscount Astor: I am grateful to my noble friend the Minister and to the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue, for what they have said. These are important matters. I look forward to the Government's announcement after their consultation. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 6:

Before Clause 1, insert the following new clause--

Implementation of Part (Listed Events and Sport)

(".--(1) This Part, except for this section, shall come into force on the expiry of a period of three months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed; but this is subject to the following provisions of this section.
(2) Before the expiry of the period mentioned in subsection (1), the Secretary of State may consult the Director General of Fair Trading and representatives of--
(a) broadcasters, including the BBC, Channel Four Television Corporation and S4C and any holder of a licence under Part I or III of the 1990 Act;
(b) sporting bodies, including governing bodies of sports; and
(c) viewers of and listeners to broadcast services,
about the implementation of this Part.
(3) The Secretary of State shall lay before both Houses of Parliament a report of any consultation undertaken under subsection (2), and the report shall contain details of--
(a) the consultation undertaken;
(b) any representations received as a result of that consultation; and
(c) any proposals which the Secretary of State may have for the amendment of this Part in the light of the representations.
(4) In giving details of the representations referred to in subsection (3)(b), the Secretary of State shall not disclose any information relating to a particular person or business except--
(a) with the consent of that person or of the person carrying on that business; or
(b) in such a manner as not to identify that person or business.
(5) Subsection (1) shall cease to have effect if, before the expiry of the period mentioned there and following the laying before both Houses of Parliament of the report mentioned in subsection (3), both Houses of Parliament resolve that it shall cease to have effect.
(6) If both Houses resolve that subsection (1) shall cease to have effect, the Secretary of State shall, within a further period of three months beginning with the day on which the latter such resolution was made, by order amend this Part to give effect to any proposals made by him under subsection (3)(c).
(7) Any order made under subsection (6) shall make new provision for the coming into force of this Part and shall be subject to approval by resolution of both Houses of Parliament.").

The noble Lord said: I have said quite enough in your Lordships' House today. I do not intend to move the amendment.

[Amendment No. 6 not moved.]

6 Feb 1996 : Column 165

Clause 1 [Multiplex services and digital programme services]:

Lord Desai moved Amendment No. 7:

Page 2, leave out line 12.

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 8 and 20. I shall be very brief. As noble Lords will know, the Broadcasting Act 1990 made a distinction between domestic and non-domestic services. That was made to accommodate Sky, which was then transmitting from Luxembourg whereas BSB was transmitting on a UK frequency. Soon after the Act was passed, Sky bought out BSB, since when BSkyB has been transmitting on a Luxembourg channel and the domestic UK frequencies have been auctioned off to very many foreign transmitters. Although Sky News is sent out from Isleworth, we get it on a non-domestic channel.

My amendment says that to carry forward that domestic and non-domestic distinction into the 1995 Act does not serve very much purpose. Let us have a level playing field and let us abolish the distinction between domestic and non-domestic transmitters. I beg to move.

Lord Inglewood: I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Desai, for expanding on the amendment and for his remarks indicating that he is anxious that the distinction between a domestic and a non-domestic satellite licence should be abolished.

As the noble Lord pointed out, it is the case that the non-domestic satellite licence relates to a broadcaster who may be operating from within the jurisdiction but who is actually broadcasting down part of the spectrum which is not in the UK's allocation. That is a clearly a very different state of affairs from the broadcaster who is broadcasting on a domestic satellite licence where both the business is established within the jurisdiction and the enterprise itself is using a spectrum which is part of the UK's allocated spectrum.

Against that background, there is a fundamental distinction between the two economic activities which are going on because of the fact that in one case the broadcaster is using a spectrum which, if I may put it this way, is within the gift of the United Kingdom while in the other the broadcaster is using a spectrum which belongs to another country; often another member state of the European Community. Where one has a material distinction of that kind there is a very good case for keeping the two categories of licence.

Lord Desai: I am grateful to the Minister for those remarks. I am trying as much as the noble Lord to find my way around these rather technical issues. I made the point that UK frequencies have been sold to foreign transmitters as Sky has already sold the UK frequency on which BSkyB is to transmit, to Swedish, Norwegian and Malaysian interests. The Sky broadcasts that we receive here are on the non-domestic channel.

It may be that we shall need to look at this matter very carefully because in the globalisation of the communications industry the domestic and non-domestic distinction is either redundant or it will

6 Feb 1996 : Column 166

have to be made much more carefully. The best thing is to remove the distinction. But pending further thought on this matter, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 (Meaning of "independent analogue broadcaster" and "qualifying service"):

[Amendment No. 8 not moved.]

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page