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Wednesday, 10 April 1957

Mr Ward d asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -

1.   Did the interests of the " Argus " newspaper acquired by the Melbourne " Herald " and " Weekly Times " Limited include the three radio stations owned by that organization and its substantial share-holding in the General Television Corporation Proprietary Limited, holders of the licence for Television Station GTV9?

2.   Is it a fact that the Melbourne " Herald " and " Weekly Times " Limited already owns two Victorian radio stations, has a controlling interest in Queensland Newspapers Proprietary Limited, the owners of two radio stations in Queensland, and is a substantial shareholder in Advertiser Newspapers Limited, which operates four radio stations in South Australia?

3.   Does the acquisition of the " Argus " radio and television interests by the Melbourne "Herald" and "Weekly Times" Limited, give that organization direct control of more radio stations than is permitted under the Broadcasting and Television Act?

4.   If so, what action has he taken, or does he propose to take, to correct this situation?

Mr Davidson - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   It is a fact that the transaction to which the honorable member for East Sydney refers involved amongst other things the three commercial broadcasting stations owned by the " Argus " and Australasian Limited, and the shares held by that company in General Television Proprietary Limited, licensee of commercial television station GTV. In that respect the transaction gave rise to matters coming within my jurisdiction under various sections of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1956. It is only fair to the parties concerned to say that they placed the facts before me frankly in accordance with the requirements of the act and accepted, without question, the decisions which I reached, to which reference is made in the reply to question No. 4.

2.   The " Herald " and " Weekly Times " Limited owns two commercial broadcasting stations in Victoria and has very substantial interests in the other companies mentioned by the honorable member.

3.   See answer to No. 4.

4.   The " Argus " and Australasian Limited has, with my approval pursuant to section 92 of the act, sold its shares in General Television Corporation Proprietary Limited (GTV) to the other shareholders in that company in parcels proportionate to their previous holdings. The " Herald " and " Weekly Times " Limited has no shares in GTV. Pursuant to section 88 of the act, I have approved the transfer of the licences for the three commercial broadcasting stations previously owned by the " Argus " and Australasian Limited (namely 3SR Shepparton, 3UL Warragul and 3YB Warrnambool) to trustees for a company to be formed on conditions which I determined, one of which is that no person or company already in a position to exercise control, directly or indirectly, of any existing commercial broadcasting station shall be permitted to acquire shares.

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