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Thursday, 3 October 1974
Page: 1644

Senator GUILFOYLE (VICTORIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for the Media. I refer to the recent radio licence granted in Canberra. Has the Minister seen a report that the A.C.T. Trades and Labour Council is seeking to send a deputation to him with a view to exerting pressure on him to have the successful applicant's company reconstructed? Has the Minister been under pressure from members of his own Party to support the claims of this deputation? Does the Minister intend to review the licence already granted to the successful company?

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) - I have seen the report, I think in this morning's 'Canberra Times', that the A.C.T. Trades and Labour Council carried a motion seeking to send a deputation to me to discuss this matter. Briefly the circumstances surrounding the awarding of the licence to a company known as Capital City Broadcasters Pty Ltd are these: The previous Government called for applications for the licence in 1972. Upon the election of this Government I recommended to the Cabinet that the matter be deferred pending my further consideration of whether the issue of a second licence for Canberra was warranted. Having considered that matter, I determined that a second licence in Canberra, bearing in mind that there was a complete monopoly existing in Canberra, was warranted and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board was directed under the terms of the Broadcasting and Television Act to hear publicly the applications that were received.

The Board heard the applications that were received. I think all told there were 7 applicants. All applicants were represented by counsel before the Board at those public hearings. During the course of the public hearings an article appeared in the 'Australian Financial Review' which in short said that I had stacked the Board to ensure that the licence would be awarded to a certain company. That matter was referred to the Attorney-General's Department which I think advised that if the Board were not a quasi judicial body, the article would be in contempt. However, the members of the Board then took individual action against the 'Australian Financial Review' and those proceedings are still pending. As a result of that the members of the Board asked all the parties present at the hearing -all represented by counsel- whether they wished to proceed. All parties indicated that they wished the Board to proceed with the hearing.

The Board took evidence and heard the addresses of counsel. After considering the evidence and the addresses of counsel it made a unanimous recommendation to me that the licence be awarded to a company known as Capital City Broadcasters. I gave consideration to the Board's recommendation and determined that in view of all the circumstances I should put the matter to my Cabinet colleagues for their consideration. Cabinet considered the Board's report and agreed to accept the unanimous recommendation of the Board to invite the company known as Capital City Broadcasters to take out the second radio licence. That information was conveyed to the successful applicant within 4 or 5 days. The successful applicant has. now advised me that it accepts the Government's recommendation. I am quite happy to meet representatives of the A.C.T. Trades and Labour Council to discuss the possible restructuring of the company, but from the short discussion that I had yesterday with my colleague, the AttorneyGeneral, I am given to understand that it is very unlikely indeed that the Government could accede to such a request.

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