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AMENDMENT TO COMMONS AMENDMENT No. 101

101A

Line 34, after (""appearing"") insert (", where second occurring,")

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 101A as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 101.

Moved, That Amendment No. 101A, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 101, be agreed to.--(Lord Inglewood.)

On Question, amendment agreed to.

On Question, Commons Amendment No. 101, as amended, agreed to.

18 Jul 1996 : Column 1059

COMMONS AMENDMENT

102

After Clause 66 insert the following new clause--

Modification of Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976 in its application to agreements relating to Channel 3 news provision

'.--(1) After section 194 of the 1990 Act there is inserted--
"Modification of Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976 in its application to agreements relating to Channel 3 news provision.

194A.--(1) In this section a "relevant agreement" means an agreement--
(a) which is made between all holders of regional Channel 3 licences for securing the appointment by them, in accordance with conditions included in their licences by virtue of section 31A(a), of a single body corporate to be the appointed news provider for the purposes of section 31(2), or
(b) which is made between them and the body corporate appointed to be the appointed news provider for the purposes of section 31(2) for purposes connected with the appointment.
(2) If a relevant agreement is registered under the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976 ("the 1976 Act"), the Director General of Fair Trading shall report to the Secretary of State as to whether it appears to the Director that the agreement falls within subsection (4).
(3) If, on receiving a report under subsection (2), it appears to the Secretary of State that the agreement falls within subsection (4), he may give a direction to the Director requiring him not to make an application to the Restrictive Practices Court under Part I of the 1976 Act in respect of the relevant agreement.
(4) A relevant agreement falls within this subsection if--
(a) those provisions of the agreement by virtue of which the 1976 Act applies to the agreement do not have, and are not intended or likely to have, to any significant extent the effect of restricting, distorting or preventing competition, or
(b) all or any of those provisions have, or are intended or likely to have, that effect to a significant extent, but that the effect is not greater than is necessary--
(i) in the case of a relevant agreement falling within subsection (1)(a), for securing the appointment by holders of regional Channel 3 licences of a single body corporate to be the appointed news provider for the purposes of section 31(2), or
(ii) in the case of a relevant agreement falling within subsection (1)(b), for compliance by them with conditions included in their licences by virtue of section 31(1) and (2).
(5) The Secretary of State may vary or revoke any direction given under subsection (3) above if he satisfied that there has been a material change of circumstances such that--
(a) the grounds for the direction have ceased to exist, or
(b) there are grounds for giving a different direction;
and where the Secretary of State so varies or revokes any direction, he shall give notice of the variation or revocation to the Director.
(6) In this section--
(a) "agreement" and "Director" have the same meaning as in the 1976 Act, and
(b) "regional Channel 3 licence" has the same meaning as in Part I."

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(2) Subsection (1) shall not apply in relation to any agreement (within the meaning of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976) made for the purposes of the provision of news programmes by a nominated news provider under section 31(2) of the 1990 Act as originally enacted.'.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 102.--(Lord Inglewood.)

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 102.--(Lord Inglewood.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

5.15 p.m.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

103

Clause 67, page 58, line 40, after 'include' insert '(a)'.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 103. In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 104, 108, 112 to 114, 116, and 119 to 123.

Amendment No. 123 introduces a related new clause, which results from commitments given in this House. They reflect our full and helpful discussion of regional programming, and I trust noble Lords will accept them as fulfilling the wishes of this House.

Amendment No. 106 deals with a problem raised in another place. It was suggested that a licence holder who was the object of a hostile takeover might pre-notify the commission, but be unable to provide information about the predator to provide the basis of new licence conditions. Amendment No. 106, therefore, allows the commission in such a case to wait until a takeover occurs. At this point the predator company becomes the licence holder and so is bound by the licence to supply information to the commission.

Amendments Nos. 107 and 109 to 111 clarify the ways in which the ITC must take into account the different aspects of regionality identified in Clause 67.

The remaining amendments are simply corrections or simplifications of drafting.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 103.--(Lord Inglewood.)

The Earl of Arran: My Lords, the alterations to the Bill, since we first encountered it, show what a very long time in politics six months can prove to be. So I pay warm tribute to my noble friend for having stayed the course. It is no mean feat for a man who once admitted that watching TV was not his favourite pastime! Your Lordships may recall my cri de coeur at Second Reading that everything that could be done to protect quality regional ITV should be done.

I proposed an amendment to stop the moguls of ITV draining the financial lifeblood from small, regional companies. I sought to prevent interference with the discount price arrangement for network programmes. My noble friend promised to take a look at the problem. It turned into--if he will forgive me--a frustratingly long look. But the results of slow gestation are now embodied

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in the Bill. I am delighted that the spirit is close to my original intention. I am also encouraged by the comments of his ministerial colleague in another place. His words will add strength to the arm of the regulator in enforcing what will soon be law.

However, there are some puzzling anomalies and potential lacunas. Indeed, the late arrival of some government amendments allowed no time for proper consultation and precious little time for parliamentary consideration. For example, I wonder whether it is fair for a regional newspaper group to own a local radio station, while a regional ITV company cannot make such investments. And what powers were at work when, as late as Report stage in another place, the Government introduced amendments to stop ITV companies profiting from the use of Teletext?

Your Lordships will recall the reaction. ITV united in public opposition. The amendments vanished as mysteriously as they had come. This Bill may wreak discomfiting change in the ownership of ITV, but at least the small regional companies can face the future knowing that our public lobbying has secured additional safeguards for quality. At least, the small companies can now face the future without both hands being tied behind their backs, for which I am indeed grateful.

Lord Thomson of Monifieth: My Lords, I join with the noble Earl, Lord Arran, in expressing thanks to the Minister for following up this matter in the way that he has. It was a matter of concern in your Lordships' House that the regional companies and ITV are a distinctive aspect of ITV. We are all grateful for the safeguards that have been inserted.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

104

Clause 67, page 58, line 42, at end insert 'and


(b) a condition requiring the licence holder to provide the Commission, in such manner and at such times as they may reasonably require, with such information as they may require for the purposes of exercising their functions under this section.'.
105

Page 58, line 44, leave out 'imposed under subsection (1) or section 5(2)(d)' and insert 'in a regional Channel 3 licence'.


106

Page 59, line 5, leave out 'without that change having' and insert 'whether or not that change has'.


107

Page 59, line 8, at end insert 'one or more of the following matters, namely'.


108

Page 59, line 14, leave out 'included' and insert 'made available by the licence holder for the purposes of inclusion'.


109

Page 59, line 17, at beginning insert 'then, with a view to ensuring that the relevant change of control is not prejudicial to any of those matters'.


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