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Remembering  Rediffusion  By:
Gerald Clode
Wired Vision
Cable Story
In 1980, the UK government set up an Information Technology Advisory Panel to examine the ‘information revolution’ and decide how use of the new technology could help the UK. They recommended rapid expansion of Cable Television Systems, which could be used both for entertainment, and, more importantly, for the ‘interactive services’ like shopping, banking and business communication which could create a ‘Wired Society’. It could, they said, be as important as the building of railways during the Industrial Revolution.

As a result the government set up a committee to examine how its planned expansion of cable systems could be carried through, bearing in mind both the public interest and existing public service broadcasting.

The three-man Hunt Committee spent six months on its report, and received submissions from 189 organisations and individuals, including Rediffusion.


Who Authorises Cable Operators?

1. A formal franchising system should beset up, with cable operators competing for the right to operate a cable system in a specific area.

2. When appointing operators, the Cable Authority should note    *the size of the area to be cabled    *whether coverage of the area is comprehensive     *the possibility of offering franchises to operators for prosperous areas on condition they also cable a poorer area     *the speed of installation in all parts of the area     *the operator’s intentions regarding ‘interactive’ services

3.Franchising period in the first instance will be for ten years (NB: the govern- ment announced on December 1 1982 preferential treatment for those who operate ‘switched star’ networks: they will be licensed for 20 years).

Cable Ownership

1.Those who provide and install the cable system can be same company as that operating the service and providing the programmes. However, the operator shoule encourage a diversity of programme sources and lease out some channels.

2. Political and religious organisations cannot own shares in companies operating the systems, and cannot operate their own channels. And the systems as a whole should not show political bias.

3.The press, TV and radio contractors, and foreign companies, cannot own a controlling interest.

4.Local participation in cable ownership is ‘desirable but not essential’.

5.Particular companies can own more than one franchise.

Powers of the Cable Authority

1.Once a cable system is installed, there will be no mandatory controls on charges, or pre-vetting of programme
schedules and advertising.

2.However, the Cable Authority will keep an eye on operators’ behaviour and examine complaints.

3.An operator grossly in breach of his obligations would lose his franchise

4.Lesser offences would be penalised by imposition of a ‘regulatory regime’ to vet programmes etc.

Programme Content

1.‘Pay Per View’ for individual pro- grammes is not allowed.

2.Any number of channels is allowed.

3.Operators must carry existing and proposed BBC and TV channels, and any ‘free’ satellite channels.

4.Foreign programmes can be carried, and there should be no mandatory ‘quota’ for British programmes.

5.There need not be restrictions on the showing of feature films, as requested by the cinema industry.

6.National sporting events like the Cup Final cannot be carried exclusively.

7.Cable operators should be subject to the same obligations as the BBC and the ITV regarding obscene, violent or inflammatory programmes, and when children may be watching.

8.However, channels which can be electronically locked by parents may carry ‘X’ films during the day.

The Hunt Committee’s recommendations were broadly accepted by the Government in speeches by Home Sec-
retary in the House of Commons.
Your Memories
Contact: Gerald Clode
The Hunt Report
How "Cable" got the  'Go - Ahead'