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Wednesday, 23 September 1936

Senator COOPER (Queensland) . - Under the heading of " National Broadcasting Service " provision is made for the appropriation of- £89,870. A few days ago I asked a question relating to the number and location of broadcasting stations in Queensland. The information supplied disclosed that there are sixteen stations, eleven of which are either on or near the coast; three are within a distance of roughly 200 miles of each other, and two are in the south-western and western portion of the State. I wish to know if an amount is to be appropriated for- building, preferably, a regional station to benefit listeners in the far west of Queensland, an area of roughly 400 miles by 400 miles? At present, owing to static interference, particularly in the summer time, the coastal stations are of little use to listeners in the area mentioned. The only station erected in Queensland within the last twelve months is a B class station at Longreach. Statistics show that the number of listeners in Queensland: is lower than in any other State. At the 30th June, 1936, there were approximately 236,000 homes in Queensland, and a population of 973,905, but only 83,230 licence-holders. The ratio of population to 100 radio licences is ,8.66 compared with New South Wales, 11.8; Victoria, 14.31; South Australia, 14.80; Western Australia, 11.16; and Tasmania, 10.5. The ratio for all Australia is 12.22. The small percentage of listeners in Queensland is to some extent due, I suggest, to defective reception. Many of the people living in the far west of. Queensland are entirely dependent on radio services for the latest market reports dealing with the disposal of their products, news of the day, and general entertainment. Many of them receive only one mail a week, and some only one a fortnight. I strongly suggest that they are entitled to a better service than they are getting at the present time.. If a regional station were erected in the centre of the district mentioned, the reception would be much better than it is to-day, and the number of licences would increase. Queensland, which has an area of 676,500 square miles, has sixteen stations; New South "Wales, with an area of 310,372 square miles, 29 stations; and Victoria, with an area of 87.884 square miles, 20 stations. The stations of New South "Wales and Victoria are interwoven between the two borders and listeners can obtain reception from either State. ' But "Western Queensland is flanked by South Australia and the Northern Territory, and no wireless station is situated near those borders. Consequently, listeners in that region are obliged to depend to a large extent upon reception from the coastal or South Australian stations. I suggest that not only for the benefit of the people resident in those distant parts, which is my principal objective in raising this matter, but also to promote the manufacture and distribution of radio, this position should be remedied. It seem3 extraordinary that the percentage of radio licences to population should be smaller in Queensland than in the other States of the Commonwealth. In my opinion the comparison shows definitely that the reception in those parts is most unsatisfactory. If it were improved, I am quite sure that the great majority of the people in far Western Queensland would be owners of radio sets. I therefore ask that funds be made available to the PostmasterGeneral's Department at an early date for. the purpose of erecting a regional station in the area referred to. " Senator BADMAN (South Australia) [10.12]. - In connexion with the- provision of' £89,870 for- national broadcasting services, I ask the- Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) whether this is an additional amount allowed to thiAustralian Broadcasting Commission apart from approximately £500,000 which that body derives from listeners' licence fees; From each licence which is taken out in the Commonwealth, the commission receives 12s., and the total number of licences in force at the 30th July last was 842,000. In South Australia the number was 88,000. The cost of a licence for zone 1 is £1 ls. and for zone 2 15s. I might explain .for the information of honorable senators that zone 2 is constituted by listeners who are beyond a 250 miles radius of a regionalor an A class station. The Australian Broadcasting Commission receives 12s. from each listener's licence. The balances of 9s. in the case of fees derived from zone 1, and 3s: in the case of fees derived from zone 2' aTe paid into the revenues of the Postal Department. If honorable- senators make a simple arithmetical calculation on the basis of. each licence- fee- yielding 12s., they will discover that from the 842,000 licences in force, the Australian Broadcasting Commission has a revenue exceeding £500,000, In view of this large income I fail to understand why the Postmaster General's Department should provide an. additional £89,870' for building construction purposes in order to assist the broadcasting services. In my opinion broadcast listeners in Australia- are not receiving a fair deal at the present time. My experience in South Australia and other States convinces me that not more than 10 per cent, of the licence-holders to-day tune into the A class stations, from which the Australian Broadcasting Commission derives such a substantial revenue. The cost of a listener's licence should bereduced.; the fees in other parts of the world are considerably less than they are in the Commonwealth. I regret that broadcasting is fast becoming a taxing machine; the Government should give listeners some relief from that tax.

Senator Foll - The Australian Broadcasting Commission does not receive the full amount of money paid in licence-fees.

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