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Thursday, 19 September 1974
Page: 1240


Senator GIETZELT (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the Minister for the Media agree that Opposition senators have constantly criticised the Australian Broadcasting Commission's public affairs programs as being one-sided. Has the Minister given assurances that it is the policy of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to present balanced programs and that if one viewpoint is given on a program an opportunity is always offered for an opposing view to be given? Can the Minister say whether the same principle applies to private television and radio stations? Did the Minister see the program 'Federal File' on Sunday, 15 September, which clearly showed a decided antiGovernment bias and breached the principle of balanced program presentation? In the circumstances, will the Minister give consideration to insisting, when the annual review of television licences is under consideration by him, that it be a condition for the renewal of licences that all programs shown on private television stations be required to comply with the standards applied to the Australian Broadcasting Commission?


Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) -The honourable senator raised this matter with me the day before yesterday and I set out to obtain a transcript of the remarks made on the program Federal File' last week. Indeed, that transcript hit my desk immediately prior to my coming into the chamber for question time, and I have not been able to study it. I will make it available to the honourable senator for his information. I have also sought from the producer of the program details of the number and the categories of people- parliamentarians, representatives of trade unions and industrial organisations- who have appeared on the program over the past few months. Certainly it is an objective of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, which is an independent statutory Commission, to present balanced programs.


Senator Greenwood - But it never does, does it?


Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) -The honourable senator always reckons the programs are not balanced if they ever contain anything that is against the Liberal Party. That has been his perennial cry, even when he was in government and represented the then PostmasterGeneral. The producer of the Federal File program, a Mr Stone, has advised me that the format of the program has been designed to offer a serious forum for significant political and industrial figures to inform the public of their policies and views. This attitude is adopted, according to Mr Stone, rather than having a debate type of program of the style of 'A Current Affair' or This Day Tonight'. I personally do not particularly like the format of the program, but I concede others might.

So far as the last part of the question is concerned, I have been seeking advice about conditions relating to licences. I think the tenor of the advice tendered to me at this stage by the Attorney-General's Department is that under the existing Broadcasting and Television Act programming matters are the responsibility of the Australian broadcasting Control Board because that is set out as one of the statutory responsibilities of the Board under the Act.







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