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Wednesday, 26 March 1941

Senator LAMP (Tasmania) . - I support the bill. I agree with my leader that it can be greatly improved in many respects. I am an enthusiastic listenerin. A great service can be rendered internationally through the proper use of broadcasting. As I have said on previous occasions, the Australian Broadcasting Commission is doing a very good job. Apart from those improvements to the measure which the Opposition will seek to effect in the committee stages, I propose to offer several suggestions for the improvement of broadcasting services. The people of northern Tasmania are not being given as good a service as they arn entitled to. Another station in addition to 7NT should be established in northern Tasmania. The reception from the two stations in Hobart is bad. Because of the great metallic belt running from east to west of the island, interference from static in Launceston is so bad that it is impossible to listen-in to either of tho-.e stations. However, as two-thirds of the population of Tasmania is situated in the north and north-west, a better broadcasting service should be established to serve that area. The listening panels could be asked to do more work than they are doing at the present time. The panel in Tasmania does not understand the requirements of the listeners-in. Most, people in the populous centres in Tasmania are able to go home from their work to lunch every day. From noon until 2 p.m., however, the national broadcast service consists of market, and stock and share reports. These are of no interest to the average man. Again, between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. the national programmes consist of sporting results, weather reports and such things as rifle club notes. In place of such items it. would he far more preferable, particularly in the case of Tasmania, to provide musical programmes at such hours. Whereas on the mainland most workers in the metropolitan areas do not return home until 7 p.m., the evening dinner in Tasmania is usually from 5.30 p.m. until 6.30 p.m. Consequently, the conditions obtaining on the mainland are not applicable to .Tasmania. The commission, therefore, should study local conditions. This can best be done by the listening panel, to which I suggest a representative of the working classes should be appointed. I believe that the national stations are presented with their best opportunity to provide entertainment on Sunday afternoons and Sunday evenings after church. At present, however, at these hours the programmes are noticeably poor in comparison with those provided at the same time by B-class stations. My ideal programme is one which satisfies the majority. For instance, the session " Do you know music 1 ", although it is acceptable to me, because I take an interest in music as a subject, does not accord with the desires of the majority of listeners, who are not interested in who wrote this or that piece of music. The majority want light entertainment, especially on Sunday, which is about the only time that they have available for entertainment. The Sunday programmes should be composed of popular entertainments.

Some time ago I raised the question of the need for the Australian Broadcasting Commission to conduct Australia-wide competitions. In his second-reading speech, the Minister said -

Radio play competitions were held. A playreading and advising department was created to search for and develop talent by advice and otherwise. The result of this policy has not only been to bring about a great improvement in the standard of play-writing and production, but has led to a remarkable development of Australian- talent. Some idea of the work involved may be had-

I believe in those competitions, but in my opinion the commission should also conduct singing, band, and instrumental competitions. Annual Australia-wide competitions, conducted under the auspices of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, would be of great value. State competitions are now held and there are also some so-called Australian competitions, but there are no recognized championships of Australia in the various branches of music. The commission should issue a certificate bearing its own seal and the emblem of Australia to the champion of each section in the musical field. The successful contestants would be given contracts and those worthy of further education would be sent overseas in order to receive further tuition as the prize for their efforts in the competitions. I hope that that suggestion will be favorably considered.

The Minister's second-reading speech referred also to broadcasts for schools. He said -

Before the commission was appointed in 1932, there were no broadcast services for school children, except for some experimental work done for a few months in Victoria. The commission appointed special school broadcasts officers in most States, and was fortunate, eventually, in securing the fullest cooperation from the State and private educational bodies throughout Australia. As a result this important branch of its work has developed greatly. Last year the number of schools regularly listening totalled 1,900, and it is estimated that the number of children listening to the school broadcasts was about 100,000.

I and my sons have listened on numerous occasions to those education broadcasts, which are good. The only objection I have is that the schools are required to pay the wireless licence-fees. That is unjust. There are 1,900 schools which scholars listen to those educational broadcasts and the least that the Government should do is grant them free licences. The licence-fees are paid, not by the scholars, but by the parents' and friends' associations which conduct concerts and other entertainments in aid of school funds. Not much revenue would be lost in giving the concession of free licences to 1,900 schools.

The A.B.C. Weekly is a wonderful journal, which has made great progress since the first issue, but I think that it is capable of expansion. I believe also that it could be issued free to every holder of a wireless licence. Not long .ago, in Tasmania, I conducted at a profit a journal which was issued free. The profit resulted from payments for advertisements. The A.B.C. Weekly, with a circulation of 1,212,581 readers, could be made the greatest advertising medium in Australia. The facilities with which to make it such are available, except, of course, the scarcity of paper might prevent the project from being put into operation immediately. The Commonwealth Government could allow the distribution of the A.B.C. Weekly through the post free of postage. In my opinion, the wider distribution of the A.B.C. Weekly as a free publication would be a great stimulus to education, to broadcasting and to the reading public. When the necessary paper supplies are available, the distribution of the A.B.C. Weekly on a free basis should be given a trial. I give a guarantee that the journal could be conducted at a substantial profit on those lines even if postage had to be paid.

Another important phase of broadcasting matter is the operations of the bushranging organization known as the Australasian Performing Eight Association. The annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission states -

There has been little change in the position since the last report. The commission has continued to pay the Australasian Performing Right Association at the rate fixed in 1938. The commission contends that this rate, especially when taken in conjunction with fees paid by commercial stations to the Australasian Performing Right Association, is much higher than is justified, having regard to payments made by comparable organizations in England, Canada, New Zealand, and certain other countries. Being interested in music and having conducted at various functions in Tasmania, I have come in conflict with the Australasian Performing Right Association. Even a person who plays records at a skating rink has to pay tribute to it. I see no reason whatever why the organization should be allowed to exist in Australia. I recognize that a copyright should last for a few years, but I refuse to concede the right of anybody to obtain perpetual copyright in order to suck the lifeblood of the community merely by altering a few words in the copyright matter. The Government has the power under the National Security Act or will have the power under the proposed legislation, if it cares to take it, to regulate payments to the Australasian Performing Right Association, and in future the Government, on the advice of the Broadcasting Commission, should from time to time issue regulations stipulating the fees to which the Australasian Performing Right Association should be entitled. Those payments should be small. I am an enthusiastic listener-in, and I think that the Broadcasting Commission is doing very good work, but I sincerely suggest that it should take cognizance of the views and the suggested amendments of the Labour party, which would make for better working and greater interest in the commission's activities.

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