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Sinclair betrays the bush



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M inister for Transport and Communications _ Senator Gareth Evans CL·C.

28 April 1988

48/88

SINCLAIR BETRAYS THE BUSH

The comments by the Leader of the National Party, Mr Sinclair,

attacking the aggregation of regional commercial television

services as "not going to improve viewer choice" represent

nothing short of a dramatic betrayal of the interests of country

people.

The only other possible conclusion is that Mr Sinclair has

completely failed to grasp the real nature and benefits of

aggregation - a failure that must cast doubts on his credentials

as Leader. ^

What Mr Sinclair is suggesting is that the 4 million Australians

in eastern mainland regions who now receive only one commercial

television service would prefer to confine their viewing to just

that one service, rather than enjoying the benefits of choosing

between three commercial services, offering the full range of

programming available to people in the mainland capitals.

Nothing could be closer to the hearts, minds and aspirations of

country viewers than the right to choose, as their city relatives

can, between cricket, tennis and golf; between different films;

different drama and comedy series; different news services and

different locally originated programs.

It is complete nonsense for Mr Sinclair to assert, as he also

did, that regional viewers are going to miss out on local news,

sport and other local programming, as a result of receiving these

additional services.

2

The Australian Broadcasting Tribunal has a duty to ensure that

all stations, regardless of their locality, provide an adequate

and comprehensive service. In the case of regional television

stations, a comprehensive service should unquestionably include

high quality local programming.

Apart from any statutory obligations, the fact is that under

aggregation regional stations will for the first time be in a

truly competitive market - up against two new commercial

competitors.

The greatly increased market forces and the dramatically

increased power of viewer preference will act to compel the

aggregated stations to maintain - if not upgrade - their coverage

of local community events and issues.

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CANBERRA