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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 45

(Question No. 1405)


Senator Kilgariff asked the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, upon notice, on 7 October 1986:

(1) Can the Minister for Communications provide information as to what assurance can be given, in view of the Federal Government's decision to grant the 4th remote television licence to Imparja, that this television service will cater adequately for the needs of outback children, Aboriginal or otherwise.

(2) What provisions is there, under the licence agreement to ensure that the service will cater for educational television programming.

(3) Does the agreement specify the percentage of broadcast time which must be allocated to particular categories of programs; if so, what is the breakdown of the categories, and the percentage of broadcasting time allocated to each.

(4) What provisions, if any, are included in the agreement for a review of the performance of the licensee.

(5) In what languages will programs be broadcast.

(6) Which Aboriginal dialects will be included in those to be broadcast, given that there are many tribes which do not speak Aranda.

(7) In view of the size of the permanent English speaking population, and the large number of tourists constantly in the Territory, who combined would make English the most widely spoken language in the broadcast area, what proportion of programs will be broadcast in the English language.


Senator Walsh —The following answer to the honourable senator's question, based on information provided by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, has been supplied by the Minister for Communications:

(1) The Tribunal's Children's Television Program Standards set minimum requirements for the broadcast of children's programs. In evidence to the Tribunal, Imparja noted ``the isolation experienced by many children and the special needs of Aboriginal children in the service area''. It stated that it will endeavour to exceed the Tribunals' requirements for pre-school children's programming and hopes to foster production of those programs aimed specifically at outback children (paragraph 4.152, 4th RCTS Report).

(2) The licence was granted to Imparja with a condition relating to educational programming. It sets a minimum of 80 hours of educational programming per year during the 1st and 2nd years of operation, a minimum of 280 hours per year during the 3rd and 4th years of operation, a minimum of 560 hours per year during the 5th year of operation.

(3) There are no conditions relating to program categories other than that relating to educational programming. However, all Tribunal Television Program Standards which apply to conventional terrestrial licences will apply to RCTS licences including Pre-School and Children's Television Standards, and those relating to drama quotas. Imparja has also given the Tribunal an undertaking to provide an adequate and comprehensive service, as required by s. 83 (5) of the Broadcasting Act.

(4) The Tribunal intends to monitor all RCTS licensees regularly throughout the 5 year licence period through meetings and progress reports. Several meetings have been held already with the three other RCTS licensees (paragraph 5.57, 4th RCTS Report). This is in addition to the periodic renewal of the licence required by the Broadcasting Act. Renewal of a licence includes review of the licensee's performance and compliance with the Act, Standards and other conditions of licence.

(5 & 6) All programs will be broadcast in English other than the news which will be broadcast in 4 languages-English and 3 Aboriginal languages. The Aboriginal languages for Central Australia will be Walprie, Arrente and Pitjanjatjara. The Northern Land Council is currently deciding in what 3 languages (in addition to English) news programs should be broadcast in the Top End, however it will probably include Kriol, which is spoken widely across northern Australia (paragraph 4.149, 4th RCTS Report).

(7) There will be 1 hour per week of specifically Aboriginal programming and 5-10 minutes in the news bulletins. All other programming (expected hours are 56 hours per week in the first year and expanding thereafter), i.e. 98% will be normal ``commercial'' programming broadcast in English (paragraphs 4.65 and 4.153, 4th RCTS Report).