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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Mr PERKINS (Eden) (Monaro) (12:42 PM) . - I do not know whether it is the intention of the Government that this clause shall stand as printed.

Mr Beasley - I propose to move that the words " the Minister determines " be inserted at the end of sub-clause 2.

Mr PERKINS - That is an improvement, but I do not know that it meets the wishes of such rural broadcasting stations as stations 2BE and 2XL, which are situated in my electorate. They say that their view is shared by all country stations. In a joint letter to me, Cooma Broadcasters Proprietary Limited, the owners of station 2XL, and Mr. J. A. Kerr, owner and operator of station 2BE, say-

Further to our representation to you regarding the abolition of Sunday advertising as recommended in the report on broadcasting. This would seriously affect country stations for the following reasons: -

Advertising from outlying centres is mainly broadcast on Sunday. If this was transferred to the week-day day-time transmission, the listening public would not be big enough to produce payable results. If it were transferred to night transmission, much of it could not be heard by the people for whom it was intended, owing to shared channel interference (i.e., more than one station on the same wavelength). The result would be loss in revenue of approximately 15 per cent, in our case. This reduction coming on top of the big limitation in advertising brought about by war-time conditions, might make it difficult for many small stations to carry on, and, at the. least, would affect the service they are now able to give the public.

In regard to the proposal only to permit sponsored programme advertising on Sunday. This is probably quite reasonable for city stations, where there are firms willing and able to spend big sums of money, but it is utterly unfair to small stations whose sponsors are very few and far between, and who depend on a large number of small advertisers spending a few shillings each week.

We have never at any time received any complaints about Sunday advertising, and our Sunday programmes appear to be widely listened to, and approved of by a very large proportion of the public.

Broadcasting has become a great asset to the more remote centres, and it would be a pity if anything were done to deprive them of its benefits.

The Australian Federation of Commercial Broadcasting Stations has prepared a two-point scheme, which would be acceptable to my correspondents and would do much to meet the objections which have been raised against Sunday advertising. The scheme is as follows : -

1.   That no mention be made of prices of any products.

2.   That not more than 150 words of advertising matter be allowed in any period of fifteen minutes, the whole of the remaining time to be devoted to programmes.

I assume that the Minister has received similar correspondence. I hope that he will take a liberal view of this matter. The two stations which I have mentioned are typical of country stations throughout Australia. They are of great importance to country residents because, although good A class stations serve most districts, many listeners prefer the programmes of the commercial stations. At the present time the country commercial stations are passing through a lean period, and, if this right be taken away from them, many of them will cease to operate. It might be advantageous in some ways to have a smaller number of stations, but the country people would suffer a great deal. I accept the amendment which the Minister has submitted, but I should like to hear his views in regard to Sunday advertising.

Sir FREDERICKSTEWART (Parramatta [12.47 a.m.]. - I move -

That, in sub-clause (2.) after the word "and" the following words be inserted: - ", except as prescribed,".

The relevant part of the sub-clause will then read as follows: - and except as prescribed shall make his advertising service available without discrimination to any person.

That will enable the department to make proper provision in the regulations to cover cases of the kind to which I have referred.

Mr Blackburn - The department will not be bound to do anything.

Sir FREDERICK STEWART - No, but it is the desire of the Government to protect the interests to which I have referred, and this will give it an opportunity to do so. I know that the general intent of the clause is to prevent a cornering of advertising time on the air by one advertising agent or a group of agent's. That intention has my approval, but I consider that the clause, as it stands at present, contains an element of danger.

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