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Thursday, 26 November 1959

Mr HAYLEN (Parkes) .During this last week I have made in this House certain allegations concerning television and the right of Australian dramatists, actors, writers and entertainers generally to have some part in the television programmes transmitted in Australia. That is the normal procedure on this side of the House, and members on this side have from time to time joined me in raising in this House, by way of proposals, for debates on matters of urgent public importance, questions Which are relevant to this problem. Indeed, until thisproblem is settled in favour of the Australian actor, the Australian writer and the Australian entertainer, we intend to keep in hot pursuit of those people who hold television station licences for five years.

My earlier remarks on this matter were challenged by Sir Frank Packer, who did notwire me direct but used the good offices of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) to communicate with me. He sent the Postmaster-General a telegram the contents of which the Postmaster-General at the request of Sir Frank Packer, included in a letter to me. I shall read as quickly as possible the relevant part of the telegram, because I believe I have a complete answer in vindication of the fact that we as a nation, as a community, and as a Parliament, should have some cognisance of the debt we owe to the contributions to Australian culture made by Australian writers, dramatists, actors and dramatic performers generally. The telegram read -

Referring to statement made by Mr. Haylen in the House concerning television programme: there is no truth whatever in the suggestion that television stations will not put on Australian programmes ' and tell the advertisers that they must select American or English programmes.

Sir FrankPacker says that there is no truth in my statement, but on Tuesday next, or later if the House rises, I hope to be able to present to the House statutory declarations from Actors Equity supporting my statements. Mr. Alexander, the secretary of Actors Equity, will show me, and I hope to show the House, letters from national advertisers complaining that they have not been able to get Australian programmes put on television stations in a time slot to suit them. You can see the cunning half-truths told by the television stations. They say, " We will give Australian programmes a go provided we can get them, and the price is right." But they will put Australian programmes at 10 o'clock or 1 1 o'clock at night, or even at the witching hour of midnight. The time slots that are considered the best are between 6.30 p.m. and9.30 p.m., when most viewers are before their sets, but -these are not available to Australian works whether they be of drama or comedy. Only recently the Commonwealth Bank - and I have this on reliable authority - attempted to have the presentation time of one of its programmes changed and get it into a time slot when the best viewing audience is watching television. Toget that time slot it would hove had to supplant a dumped American canned programme. Instead of that canned rubbishfrom America the Australian viewers wouldhave seen the Commonwealth Bank'sprogramme of a festival of Australianmusic, a particularly suitable programme whenwe are nearing Christmas.

However, despite the fact that the Commonwealth Bank had spent many thousands of pounds on publicity on television it was unable to get a time slot in the much sought after viewing period between 6.30 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. because, the time slot it wanted was tied up with some American product. That completely refutes the suggestion that there is no evidence that Australian programmes are being frozen out.

If any further evidence is desired, I shall give it and quote my sources. When I first brought this matter before the House I depended for my evidence on a report in the magazine known as " The Nation " by a man signing himself " Melbourne Spy ", who has written a very succinct report of his conclusions in relation to this matter. In all cases he quoted his authority as Actors Equity of Victoria which is worried, as we are in this House, about why the Australian programme cannot get an opportunity to be tested by public opinion. There are what are known as " ratings " - some sort of advertising gimmick which says this is a good show and this not a good show. But these shows are screened. The Australian shows that we are suggesting are good shows do not get an opportunity to be viewed by Australians in numbers. For that reason we are making this protest.

Actors Equity, the union concerned in this matter, made an investigation of 80 advertising organizations and advertising companies. In their telegrams both Sir Frank Packer and his general manager asked "Where are these people?" Actors Equity will put them in possession of the names of these people. Here are some of the statements, which I shall read if I have time, which support all the evidence that the Australian is being crammed out of his own television. Mr. T. G. Davis, director, Unilever Pty. Ltd., said, " In the early days of television, of the four half-hour programmes which we sponsored or partsponsored, no less than three were, in fact, locally produced. We persevered with these shows until the television stations themselves approached us and said that they were no longer prepared to carry programmes whose lack of popularity was weakening their entire entertainment structure."

The measure of the lack of popularity was three units of investigation known as ratings, taken by other advertising agencies, which is like taking in your own washing to decide which is and which is not a good show. Further evidence of the squeeze on Australian dramatists, writers and entertainers is given by Mr. H. Widdup, merchandizing manager of W. D. and H. O. Wills (Aust.) Ltd., the cigarette people, who said, " I commend Equity's campaign for Australian programmes, but the various television stations have made it clear that they would not telecast programmes unless they owned them - and the large percentage of these are American."

The general manager of Four'n Twenty Pies Limited, of Melbourne, said, "We would like, in fact we would be very happy, to be sponsoring an Australian programme on television. Up until now none has been submitted to our agency for consideration. Our agency has, in fact, been told that television stations will only telecast programmes which they own or control".

Therefore I say to the Minister that a clamp is on the Australian product, because it cannot get into the time slots when the Australian community is viewing television. Mr. Palmer, an advertising executive of Victa Consolidated Industries Limited, said, " Television stations are most jealous of their right to select their own programmes ". He said that if his company wished to advertise on these stations it must take their programmes - and their programmes are, in 98 per cent, of cases, American programmes.

A city business man, Mr. N. Aboud. who is well known to many members of this House, said that he was tired of westerns and Yankee contributions to culture on the air. He said he would like to get an Australian programme but did not know where to get one. He added that if he did get one he could not get it in the time slots that would provide him with the publicity he desired and provide the entertainment for the people who buy his products.

For the information of the people who have written to me on this matter, and to refute the suggestion that what I have stated are not facts, let us look at the Crawford report on television and see what is happening to programmes. Here is a typical case: The best time slots are between 6.30 o'clock and 9.30 o'clock in the evening. In the week ended 29th June, 1959, according to the Crawford report, during those three hours, four stations in Sydney and Melbourne screened shows as follows: - Sydney, 67 imported half-hour shows and one Australian half-hour show. That Australian half-hour show was Bob Dyer's " Pick a Box "; Melbourne, 64 imported half-hour shows, and four Australian halfhour shows. The total for the week was 131 overseas programmes and five Australian programmes.

That is what the Crawford report has to say, and the Crawford organization is one of the best known in regard to the technicalities of, and research into, television.

I conclude with this final indictment of the canned amusement that is being screened on Australian television stations. No matter what the sponsors and the television companies may say, I shall show, by quoting the relevant figures, how this rolling amount of overseas film rubbish, this dumped material, is coming into this country in an ever-increasing flood. The total of overseas film screened on television in 1957 amounted to 6,826 separate films of all sorts - gangster films, " Gunsmoke " and what have you! In 1958, it was 10,654 separate films. The Australian content continues to slip. In 1959 there were 11,500 separate films. So, in 1957 4,500,000 feet of overseas junk was poured into this country, and in 1958 there were 8,000,000 feet of overseas material. To-day we find that 10,000,000 feet of material alien in outlook and intent are poured into this country. We on this side of the House will continue to bring figures to the Minister.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honorable member's time has expired.

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