The Editor-in-Chief of Independent Television News, Aidan Crawley, steps into the row over the political “14-day rule” in a letter to the Editor of The Times. Mr Crawley suggests that “the Order is a grave infringement of the independence of private members of Parliament” and posits that “In permanently extending this Order to cover ordinary members of the public the Government… are asserting a right to control freedom of speech to a degree which has never been tolerated in this country since the days of the Stuarts.”
He continues, “Radio and television are now the major part of what… is still generally known as ‘the Press’; and what the Government are saying is that members of the public may not share in discussion through these media on issues which vitally affect them at the moment when discussion is of its greatest value. As you indicate in your leading article to-day (see post on 29 July), it is an order which, were it applied to you, Sir, you would most vigorously resist.”
The Daily Mirror reports on a group of about 300 households who are already enjoying an alternative TV schedule, some seven weeks before commercial television is due to start. These are viewers in Dover (Kent) where French television is received through the local Rediffusion company which converts the broadcasts from the French standard before piping it to a number of local subscribers.
Clifford Davis’ “On The Airwaves” column notes the two million listeners lost by BBC radio in the last three years and laments the reaction from the BBC’s Director-General Sir Ian Jacob. Is it bigger and better TV programmes? Is it priority for TV over radio? “Not a bit,” he says quoting from the BBC’s Annual Report, published last week: “Sound radio remains the major service”.
Davis points out that £5,043,908 is handed over to television while nearly twice as much – a hefty £10,018,799 – goes to sound radio, and he suggests that’s why we “have to put up with such tatty variety and plays like that piffling effort they gave us on Sunday.”
Davis also reveals that Joanna Kilmartin’s path to being a panel regular on Who Said That? was smoothed by novelist Marghanita Laski who put in a word on her behalf with the result that two BBC producers came a-calling. She was rung back by one of them with the message, “the job’s yours,” though apparently she had no idea what that job was going to be.