By our Radio Correspondent THE prospect of independent Catholic programmes on the new commercial Television network virtually vanished last week when the Government Bill giving effect to its proposals for competitive TV was intro
duced in the Commons.
The reason is that polities and religion are debarred from sponsorship under the rules laid down for the Independent Television Authority which will control all programmes.
This was foreshadowed in the White Paper last year, but many Catholics clung to the hope that, the terms would be amended to make possible the screening of specifically Catholic events, with Catholic money and backing.
Fr. Agnellus Andrew, Catholic adviser to the B.B.C., confined himself to saying on Tuesday : "The Bill is very different from what a good number of people expected. The fact that there is to he no sponsoring of religious programmes means that Catholics will fare much as they do at present under the B.B.C.
No 'TV Bishop'
"In effect, as far as religion is concerned, it seems as if we shall have an alternative set of programmes. conceived and arranged in the same way as existing TV programmes arc con ceived and arranged." ks
"I he Independent Television Authority will be completely responsible for all religious 'IV broadcasts, but will be advised by a special committee similar to the Religious Advisory body which guides the B.B.C, in its choice and presentation of programmes, Religious groups will not be allowed to advertise and the .Independent Authority will not be allowed to accept any advertisements directed to religious ends, Thus the possibility of building up an outstanding TV personality like Bishop Fulton Sheen in the United States during "time on the air" paid for by a sponsor is el iminated.
The yearly grant of £750,000 from the Treasury and the authorisation of loans of up to £2,000,000 in a fiveyear period will enable the Authority to put on its own programmes. Some of this money. it appears, will be used for religious television broadcasts.