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 [music] Michael Heseltine, the president of the board of trade, has found another industry in which to intervene.
 Next Wednesday, a score of television bigwigs will meet him at a special seminar at the Department of Trade and Industry, part of the D T I's efforts to boost British exports.
 British television is almost as widely admired abroad as it is at home.
 Its reputation rests on classy programmes often made as international co-productions like David Attenborough's blockbuster natural history series.
 [music] Britain used to have a comfortable trade surplus in television programmes.
 Twenty four million pounds in nineteen eighty five.
 But by nineteen ninety one, that had turned in to a deficit of a hundred million and one prediction suggests the deficit would have widened dramatically to six hundred and forty million pounds by the end of the decade.
 Largely because of satellite television with its high number of feature films and U S and Australian programmes.
 But many British programmes, especially dramas, don't travel well in the opposite direction.
 British broadcasters fighting a ratings battle at home want shows guaranteed to appeal to British audiences.
 British producers have little choice but to go for the home market, because the lion share of their budgets comes from the B B C, I T V or Channel Four who commission the programmes in the first place.
 The bias erm of British producers towards producing for a British market is likely to persist erm historically it's been very difficult for all but er select minority to achieve significant sells sales overseas.
 Erm and again I I doubt doubt whether that will disappear over night.
 It's a cultural as much as a commercial problem.
 No amount of government intervention will change it.
 But Wednesday's meeting could suggest ways to stop things getting worse.
 The government might offer tax breaks to Britain's beleaguered film industry.
 Feature films do have export potential even if television programmes don't.
 And the I T V companies won't miss an opportunity to push for a relaxation of the rules which prevent one large I T V company merging with another.
 As it is, they say, British broadcasters are far too small to compete effectively in export markets or to resist overseas predators.
 And the takeover threat doesn't just come from foreign television companies, but from cable companies and even phone companies as well.
 Thanks to the much talked about convergence of broadcasting telecommunications and computing.
 American telecom's giants like Bell Atlantic are quite open about their global ambitions.
 We absolutely have plans.
 And we are absolutely having conversations with carriers throughout the world.
 Not just in England but throughout the world about taking the technology we're developing and the branded services and deploying them on their systems.
 And the whole business of convergence raises the intriguing question of who ought to regulate this burgeoning new industry.
 In Britain neither the independent television commission nor the telephone watchdog, OFTEL, seems entirely appropriate.
 A single body modelled on the U S federal communications commission would make more sense.
 And a British F C C would fit much more naturally into the Department of Trade's portfolio, than into that of the department of national heritage, which currently looks after broadcasting.
 Perhaps Mr Heseltine's sudden interest in television is motivated by more than a simple desire to boost British exports. [theme music]