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Friday, 22 March 1985
Page: 690

(Question No. 32)

Senator Vigor asked the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, upon notice, on 22 February 1985:

(1) Does the Minister for Communications agree that, in the light of his 18 February 1985 statement, any policy designed to achieve equalisation of broadcasting services to all communities must address all three sectors of broadcasting in Australia, i.e. national, commercial and public broadcasting.

(2) What provision is being made for the balanced development of broadcasting services in terms of the provision of national, commercial and public services, including both radio and television, to all communities.

(3) Do draft amendments to the Broadcasting and Television Act scheduled for the Autumn Session include provision for the introduction of regional commercial television services via satellite in remote areas, but not regional public television or regional public radio services via satellite.

Senator Walsh —The Minister for Communications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) My statement of 18 February 1985 was addressed principally to the question of commercial television and radio services. The Australian Broadcasting Commission was exhaustively examined by the Dix Committee and the Government has taken both legislative and administrative action in response to that report. A similar detailed study of the operations of the Special Broadcasting Service has recently been made by the Connor Committee and I expect to release its report shortly. While it is accepted that long term planning requires all sectors of broadcasting to be borne in mind, my statement is directed towards the commercial sector, which has not been examined in detail for nearly 30 years.

(2) See 1 above. The Broadcasting Policy and Planning Division of my Department is responsible for planning for the development of broadcasting services and is represented at all planning committees. It acts as the co-ordinating mechanism and advises me accordingly.

(3) The proposed amendments do not yet include any reference to public broadcasting. However, in considering the provision of remote commercial radio services (RCRS), my Department is also addressing the question of public radio services via satellite. When I have had the opportunity to consider these recommendations I will make a further announcement.