1 FEBRUARY 1963, Page 6

Pay as You View

I suppose that lack of interest as much as anything explains the Government's curiously muted proposals for a trial of Pay TV. But if television is ever going to establish itself as a serious form of communication, then it would clearly be sensible to allow people a wide range of choice and let them pay for it as they watch, it. If the Government is seriously worried by Pilkington's warning that Pay TV companies could never be trusted to stick to minority in- terests, but would start buying up Coronation Street at the first opportunity, then it should not be beyond its capacity to produce a statute laying down exactly what sort of programmes Pay TV could sell and what should remain the prerogative of BBC and ITV. This would be as good a way as any of finding out which of the companies are really serious about their desire to produce intelligent and cultural pro- grammes. The present proposal of inviting appli- cations from companies for permission to take part in a two-year experiment seems like a way of quietly killing the scheme from the start. Either that, or just evidence of lack of sufficient thought. Companies are being invited to invest capital and ideas without having any idea of what sort of judgment, by what sort of criteria, is hanging over their heads.