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Thursday, 16 November 1939

Sir HENRY GULLETT - I am aware, by listening, that the position in regard to overseas news broadcasts is as the honorable member has stated. The matter, however, is as it was before I assumed responsibility in the Department of Information. I understand that the position was fully investigated by the Postmaster-General's Department. There is no question, I believe, but that the Australian newspaper interests pay upwards of £10,000 a year to Reuters Limited for the Australian rights to all Reuters' news. At the same time, the British Broadcasting Corporation pays £10,000 for the right to broadcast that news. The position, therefore, appeals to be that although the British Broadcasting Corporation has the right to broadcast the news, such news could be received in Australia only by those who have shortwave length receivers unless some other arrangement were made. The copyright within Australia, for which the Australian newspaper interests pay £10,000, is for the right to re-broadcast. The position, as I see it, indicates that there might be some discrimination against persons on lower incomes who cannot afford the more expensive short-wave receivers, unless some arrangement such as that now in operation had been made. The matter is now receiving the very close attention of the Postmaster-General and myself, and I trust to be able to make a more satisfactory statement on it at no distant date.

Mr Makin - Would not the copyright be only for the printed word and not for the spoken word?

Sir HENRY GULLETT - No; that is not the position.

Mr WHITE - The Minister for Information has not yet stated whether any money is paid by the Australian Broadcasting Commission to the British Broadcasting Corporation in respect of the broadcasts. Will the Minister state whether payment is made, and, if so, what is the approximate cost? Having regard to the disputed rights in this matter, will he confer with the Attorney-General to see whether anything at all should be paid ?

Sir HENRY GULLETT - I understand that the Australian Broadcasting Commission does not make any payment for the right to rebroadcast the British Broadcasting Corporation news, hut the time of the broadcast is limited by arrangement with the newspapers.

Mr Curtin - The Minister explained all that before.

Sir HENRY GULLETT - There has never been any mystery about it. The matter has been under examination for some time.

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