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Melbourne Greek radio service "not victimised"

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26 March 1991


The operators of Melbourne's Greek Radio Service have had over eighteen months to encrypt Margan Delta's transmissions, Mr Warren Snowdon said today.

Mr Snowdon, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Transport and Communications, was responding to a claim made by the station's Managing Director, Mr George Pagkalos, on SBS Television that the Government was victimising the service.

Mr Snowdon said the Government had bent over backwards to give the operators enough time to comply with the conditions of their radiocommunications licence.

"The company first agreed to encrypt the service in July 1989. The licence conditions were then varied to allow the company a full year, until 30 June 1990, to make the necessary arrangements."

Mr Snowdon said that, subsequently, the company was given three extensions of time. The first was to 23 September 1990, then to 21 October 1990 and finally to 20 March 1991-- a total extension of nine months on top of the initial period of one year.

"Because the Government has been so generous, the Service has been able to acquire a great number of listeners and become a de facto broadcasting service operating in breach of the Broadcasting Act," Mr Snowdon said.

"The claim that an encryption system was not approved until 12 March is also wrong. The Department of Transport and Communications formally approved an encryption system on 18 April 1990. A second system was approved on 21 September

1990. The approval given on 12 March 1991 was for a third encryption system which the company could use.

"As I have said before, the Government regrets that the Greek community now sees itself as losing a valued service, but the Greek Radio Service has been operating illegally and the Government had no choice but to close it.

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"The Government currently is reviewing the policy which has prevented the Greek Radio Service being legally delivered to private homes. Even if that policy is changed, such services will still require encryption.

"The Government would be quite happy to see the operator of the former Greek Radio Service or another operator establish a service provided it is encrypted."

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Media contact: Linda Clack (06) 277 4877