July 13, 1960 in UK TV: The Pilkington Committee on Broadcasting consider “the possibility of television for public showing”

The Pilkington Committee was set up on 13 July 1960 under the chairmanship of British industrialist Sir Harry Pilkington to consider the future of broadcasting, cable and “the possibility of television for public showing”. One of the Pilkington Report’s main conclusions was that the British public did not want commercial radio broadcasting, and it offered criticism of the existing commercial television licensees.

The committee included ex-footballer Billy Wright, actress Joyce Grenfell, and theatre director Peter Hall.

Their report, published on 27 June 1962, recommended the introduction of colour television licences and that Britain’s third national television channel (after the BBC Television Service and ITV) should be awarded to the BBC. BBC2 was launched two years later. It also criticised the populism of ITV by attacking its American originated acquired programming such as Westerns and crime series.  It also recommended that the BBC should extend its activities to the creation of local radio stations in order to prevent the introduction of commercial radio. In deciding that the British public did not want commercial radio, it rejected requests for licences that were being sought by over 100 British registered commercial radio companies. Its immediate result was historic in nature because it inspired both the creation of a trade lobby group for commercial radio, and the establishment of ship-based pirate radio stations operating in international waters outside the jurisdiction of the British government. The best known of these was Radio Caroline whose transmissions began in 1964.


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