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Monday, 24 May 1965

Senator MCCLELLAND (New South Wales) . - I direct the Committee's attention to clause 8 of the Bill which sets out to repeal section 105a of the principal Act relating to monopolising of television programmes. The clause provides for these provisions to be made in future by way of regulations under section 134 of the Act. In this connection I wish to raise the general question of programmes. In the Act, section 105a covers three or four pages. Under the provision of clause 8 control of the monopolising of television programmes which is now done by an Act is to be done by way of regulations. 1 hope the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) will not overlook the consideration given to this matter by the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Production for Television. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) might be able to indicate to the Committee what consideration the report of the Senate Select Committee is receiving not only by the Minister but also by the powers that be - his advisers in the industry.

I direct the attention of the Minister for Customs and Excise to an answer given by the Postmaster-General in another place on 27th April to a question that had been directed to him. That was about a fortnight before this measure was introduced in the House of Representatives. I referred to this matter in my second reading speech last night. The honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) mentioned in another place that Channel 0 in Melbourne, an Ansett station, had given an undertaking to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board that it would provide 58 per cent, live content, and therefore 58 per cent. Australian content, in its programmes. Mr. Buchanan said that it was now barely achieving a figure of 1.5 per cent, and so was not living up to its obligations. In his reply, the Postmaster-General said - . . the matter is constantly under the inquiry and supervision of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board . . .

Might I interpolate that according to the annual reports of the Board there is certainly no supervision at all over the activities of the commercial television stations. The Postmaster-General went on to say in his reply -

.   . and 1 hope that when other new stations in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane come into operation . . . the new network facility will then enable the company referred to by the honorable member to carry out the obligations required of it by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board.

I want the Minister to tell me whether it is an expression of his opinion to say that, in order to provide a reasonable percentage of Australian content in programmes, it is absolutely essential for stations to become involved in a network of stations. Obviously that is what was implied by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) in reply to a question asked by the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan). How are

Channel 0 and Channel 10 going to compete, in the public interest, with channels already operating under network provisions, namely, those of the Packer group, the Williams group and the Fairfax group? This is a matter that particularly concerns a family sitting before a television screen at night. I hope the Minister will be able to indicate to the Senate what the Government intends to do about carrying out the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Production for Television.

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