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Wednesday, 28 October 1964

Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales) (Minister for Customs and Excise) . - For the purpose of convenience, perhaps it would be appropriate for me to refer first to the matter that was raised by Senator O'Byrne. I am informed that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is at present making a technical survey of the possibility of providing a television service for the west coast of Tasmania by using translator stations to relay the programmes of existing stations. Those surveys are quite extensive. Local interests which have a viewpoint to express are being consulted. I understand that the surveys will extend over a period of some weeks and that the Hobart and Launceston commercial stations are interested in providing a service. Advantage is being taken of the opportunity to gather both technical and non-technical information related to the proposal.

Senator Cohen,who initiated the discussion on this section of the Estimates, reminded us that a Senate select committee had been appointed to investigate the possibility of encouraging Australian productions for television. He drew attention to the magnitude of the task which the Committee undertook and said that members of the Committee, who were drawn from both sides of the Senate, submitted 79 recommendations. I remind honorable senators that the report of the Committee is still listed on the business paper for debate. Therefore, as far as the Senate is concerned, the matter has not been finally determined.

Senator Cohen - We are still waiting for a Minister to speak. The debate has been adjourned to enable that to be done.

Senator ANDERSON - I can only say to the honorable senator and to honorable senators generally that quite recently the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) made a statement in which he drew attention to the fact that tremendous issues were raised in the report and that he is still considering the evidence submitted to, and the recommendations of, the Committee. He said that the matters involved were extensive. I think we all can agree with that statement.

A number of matters were raised by Senator Buttfield. She raised in a general way the subject of higher licence fees, lt must be remembered that capital city stations must have sufficient revenue to enable them to provide good programmes. Television licensees, especially those in the capital cities, enjoy a very valuable franchise. I think we all would agree that because of the advantage they enjoy over licensees in other cities they should pay a substantial fee. The Estimates for the year ended 30th June 1965 set out the following estimates of receipts in respect of broadcasting and television services: Broadcasting listeners' licence fees £5,550,000; broadcasting stations' licence fees, £136,000; telvision viewers' licence fees, £11,025,000; television stations' licence fees, £422,000; wireless telegraphy fees, £68,000; and miscellaneous, £156,000. As the honorable senator would know, those sums will go to the Treasury.

I make the general point, as I did in relation to other estimates we have discussed, that if any query is raised to which an answer is not readily available 1 undertake to see that a suitable reply is obtained and relayed to the honorable senator concerned.

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