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COMMONS AMENDMENT

179

Page 93, line 13, at end insert--


'(i) a licence to provide digital programme services, or
(j) a licence to provide national or local digital sound programme services.'.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 179. Following a debate on this matter in another place, we concluded that it would be wrong to prevent foreign ownership of digital television programme services. That is because there are already a number of programme channels offered through cable and satellite which are provided by organisations whose ultimate parent is a non-EEA company. These channels, which include the Family Channel, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, the Disney Channel and even the Parliamentary Channel, have established their

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popularity. We felt that we could not ultimately justify a position whereby such channels could be provided by cable or satellite but not by way of a digital programme service. In addition, their availability through digital terrestrial television may well contribute to the success of digital terrestrial broadcasting.

Similarly, allowing foreign control of digital sound programme services may contribute to the success of digital radio. Indeed, the development of commercial radio in this country owes much to the early input of overseas companies which had experience in the commercial market.

The Government consulted both the ITC and the Radio Authority about these amendments, and both were content with this liberalisation. I commend the amendment.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 179.--(Lord Inglewood.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

180

Page 93, line 13, at end insert--


'4A. In paragraph 3 of Part II of Schedule 2 (disqualification of publicly-funded bodies for radio service licences), in sub-paragraph (1)(a) for "(other than a local authority)" there is substituted "(other than a local authority, the Welsh Authority or the BBC)".
4B. In paragraph 5 of Part II of Schedule 2 (general disqualification of broadcasting bodies), paragraphs (c) and (d) are omitted.
4C. After paragraph 5 of Part II of Schedule 2 there is inserted--

"Disqualification of certain companies for certain licences

5A.--(1) A BBC company, a Channel 4 company or an S4C company is a disqualified person in relation to--
(a) any licence granted by the Commission to provide regional or national Channel 3 services or Channel 5, and
(b) any licence granted by the Commission to provide a local delivery service.
(2) A BBC company is also a disqualified person in relation to any licence granted by the Authority to provide a national, local or restricted service within the meaning of Part III of this Act.
(3) The Secretary of State may by order provide that sub-paragraph (1)(b) shall not have effect in relation to any local delivery service of a description specified in the order." '.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 180.

Subsections (4A) and (4B) in this amendment are consequential to the provisions allowing S4C and Channel 4 to create companies, to which I spoke earlier. Subsection (4C) was brought forward by my honourable friend the Minister of State following discussion in the Standing Committee in another place about the potential impact on the commercial radio market of competition from BBC companies.

Some of the concerns expressed were somewhat exaggerated. But there are special factors in the domestic radio market relating to strong competition and spectrum scarcity which will not be changed by digital

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broadcasting. Nor is this a sector in which the BBC had plans to establish companies. We therefore thought it would be a good thing to provide assurances to the commercial radio market by clarifying the position. This amendment makes it clear that BBC companies are disqualified from holding a Radio Authority licence to provide a national, local or restricted radio service. I commend the amendment.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 180.--(Lord Inglewood.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

181

Page 93, line 22, leave out 'paragraphs 8 and 15' and insert 'paragraph 8'.

4.45 p.m.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 181. In moving this amendment I shall also refer to Commons Amendments Nos. 182 to 184 inclusive and Commons Amendments Nos. 216 to 221.

This group of amendments concerns the categories of broadcasting licence which fall within the system of media ownership controls. They largely relate to more substantive changes to which we shall come shortly.

Amendment No. 181 is consequential on the revised system of controlling licence-holders' shares and other licences, which is now to rely not on maximum holdings but on attributing half the audience share of the licence concerned where the shareholdings are over 20 per cent.

Amendment No. 182 takes account of Amendment No. 183, which provides for the addition of the new category of restricted television services to the audience, subject to the overall 15 per cent. television share limit.

Amendment No. 184 provides for the omission of restricted radio services from the system of controls. I shall have more to say about this later.

Amendments Nos. 216 to 219 make minor and consequential changes to the order-making power to vary the specific ownership controls.

Amendments Nos. 220 and 221 are minor drafting amendments consequential on the removal of the power to specify a maximum number of local radio service licences that may be held by one person. I commend the amendment.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 181.--(Lord Inglewood.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

182

Schedule 2, page 93, line 23, leave out 'eighteen' and insert 'seventeen'.


183

Page 93, line 26, at end insert--


'(aa) restricted services (within the meaning of Part I of this Act);'.
184

Page 93, leave out line 38.

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Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 182 to 184. I have already spoken to these amendments. I commend them to the House.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 182 to 184.--(Lord Inglewood.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

185

Schedule 2, page 94, leave out lines 4 to 50 and insert--

'General limit on the holding of licences to provide television services or interests in bodies corporate holding such licences

2.--(1) If any person's audience time, in respect of a period of twelve months ending with the last day of any calendar month, exceeds 15 per cent. of total audience time, he shall not, subject to sub-paragraph (4), at any time in the following month--
(a) hold two or more licences to provide relevant services falling within one or more of the categories specified in paragraph 1(2)(a), (b), (c), (d) or (g),
(b) be a participant with a qualifying interest in two or more bodies corporate each of which holds a licence, or two or more licences, to provide services falling within one or more of those categories,
(c) hold any licence to provide a relevant service falling within any of those categories and be a participant with a qualifying interest in any body corporate which holds such a licence or two or more such licences,
(d) provide a foreign satellite service and either hold any licence to provide a relevant service falling within any of those categories or be a participant with a qualifying interest in a body corporate which holds such a licence or two or more such licences, or
(e) hold a licence to provide relevant services falling within the category specified in paragraph 1(2)(g) and provide two or more such services.
(2) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (1), and subject to sub- paragraph (3), a person's audience time in respect of any period is the aggregate of--
(a) the audience time attributable in respect of that period to each relevant service falling within any of the categories specified in paragraph 1(2)(a), (b), (c), (d) or (g) provided under a licence held by him,
(b) one half of the audience time attributable in respect of that period to any relevant service falling within any of the categories specified in paragraph 1(2)(a), (b), (c), (d) or (g) provided under a licence held by a body corporate which he does not control, but in which he is a participant with a qualifying interest, and
(c) the audience time attributable in respect of that period to any foreign satellite service provided by him.
(3) For the purposes of calculating a person's audience time in respect of any period in accordance with sub-paragraph (2)--
(a) there shall be included the audience time attributable in respect of that period to each service referred to in that sub-paragraph in respect of which, on the date upon which the calculation of his audience time for the purposes of sub-paragraph (1) is made, he holds the licence, is

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a participant in the body corporate which holds the licence, or which he provides (as the case may be), irrespective of whether he held the licence, or was a participant in the body corporate which holds the licence or provided the service at any time during the period; and
(b) there shall (for the avoidance of doubt) be excluded the audience time attributable in respect of that period to each service referred to in sub-paragraph (2) in respect of which, prior to the date upon which the calculation of his audience time for the purposes of sub-paragraph (1) is made, he has ceased to hold the licence, or to be a participant in the holder of the licence, or to provide the service (as the case may be).
(4) Sub-paragraph (1) shall not prevent a person from continuing to hold any licence, or to be a participant in a body corporate which holds any licence, or from continuing to provide any service (as the case may be) if and to the extent that arrangements made by him after the end of the period in respect of which his audience time exceeds 15 per cent. of total audience time would cause his audience time, calculated so as to take into account the effect of those arrangements, not to exceed 15 per cent. of total audience time.
(5) In this paragraph "foreign satellite service" means any service (other than a non-domestic satellite service) which consists in the transmission of television programmes by satellite, is provided on a frequency other than one allocated to the United Kingdom for broadcasting by satellite and either--
(a) appears to the Commission to be intended for general reception in the United Kingdom (whether or not it appears to them to be also intended for general reception elsewhere), or
(b) is (to any extent) relayed by a local delivery service.
(6) References in this paragraph--
(a) to the audience time attributable to any service in respect of any period, or
(b) to total audience time in respect of any period,
shall be construed in accordance with paragraph 3.
(7) In this paragraph "qualifying interest" means an interest of more than 20 per cent.
(8) The Secretary of State may by order amend sub-paragraph (7)--
(a) by substituting a different percentage for any percentage for the time being specified there, and
(b) so as to specify different percentages in relation to licences to provide different services.
(9) The Secretary of State may by order amend sub-paragraphs (1)(a), (2)(a) and (b) by adding a reference to relevant services falling within the category specified in paragraph 1(2)(aa)'.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 185. In speaking to this amendment I shall also refer to Amendments Nos. 186 and 187, 215, 157 and 158.

Amendment No. 185 retains the general scheme whereby holdings in television are limited to no more than 15 per cent. of the total television audience time. However, it provides that those who have an interest in more than 20 per cent. but less than the control of the television service shall be attributed half the audience time attributable to that service.

18 Jul 1996 : Column 1038

The amendment to Amendment No. 185 before the House will ensure that when calculating audience time audience share is attributed immediately in respect of licences that a person controls or in which he has a qualifying interest at the time the calculation is made.

Amendment No. 185 also provides order-making powers whereby the Secretary of State may amend the percentage of qualifying interests to which half the audience time is attributed and bring restricted television services within the scope of the 15 per cent. audience time limit.

Amendment No. 186 provides that the Secretary of State can amend paragraph 3 of Part III to reflect any significant change in the manner in which the television industry calculates audience time.

Amendment No. 187 is simple and straightforward. It changes an order-making power into a general rule to prevent the holder of one regional Channel 3 licence from also holding another licence to provide a regional Channel 3 service for that region.

Amendments Nos. 157 and 158 are minor amendments to Clause 115 which pave the way for a repeal of the Broadcasting (Restrictions on the Holding of Licences) Orders. The replacement provisions are now contained on the face of this Bill, so the orders will become redundant when Schedule 2 of the Bill becomes law.

Amendment No. 215 amends the earlier provisions whereby the holders of one type of licence were restricted to a 20 per cent. interest in licences of a different category, replacing them with provisions which prevent common control of those licences but which do not restrict the extent of participation below the level of control. It will, however, still prevent any one person from having more than one national analogue broadcasting licence; and anyone holding a local radio licence and a Channel 3 licence where services are provided for areas which are significantly the same. I commend the amendment.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 185.--(Lord Inglewood.)


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