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Wednesday, 24 May 1972
Page: 2050

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:

(1)   What specific steps does the Australian Broadcasting Control Board take to ensure the implementation of paragraph 31.1 (b) of Part III of Division 5 of the Standards for Technical Equipment and Operation of Medium Frequency Broadcasting Stations; what exceptions have been made, and what have been the reasons for them.

(2)   What action is being taken in conjunction with educational authorities and the Professional Radio Employees' Institute of Australasia to provide a sufficient number of trained personnel to ensure that stations are properly manned.

SenatorGREENWOOD- The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   I would preface my answer by stating that:

(a)   the remarks which follow relate to commercial broadcasting stations, the Post Office having a full appreciation of its obligations to conform with the Board's Technical Standards in relation to national broadcasting stations.

(b)   the Board has the requirements of paragraph 31.1 (b) tinder review, prompted by technical developments sincethe Standards were produced, particularly in regard to the general reliability of broadcasting technical equipment.

In reply to (1) information is obtained by the Board from the following sources:

(a)   annual technical inspection of stations by the staff of the Board;

(b)   application by stations for annual licence renewals;

(c)   advice received from stations between inspections.

Where it is considered that there may be a depature from the requirement of the Standards the matter is followed up with the station concerned with a view to correction of the position.

Exceptions, relevant to paragraph 31.1 (b), have been made in recent times as follows: 2AD Armidale

Exemption has been granted to the extent that the Board has approved the employment of an unqualified technician at the station subject to specific reservations as to the duties he may perform, qualified staff at Tamworth being required to perform other duties. 2MG Mudgee, 2BS Bathurst

Exemption has been granted tothe extent that the qualified technician at either station is permitted, in the absence of the other, to act as standby for both stations. 3HA Hamilton

A temporary relaxation of the requirement was made but it is no longer current. The exception was made following the departure of one of two qualified technicians from the station and pending the appointment of another qualified technician and on the basis that a qualified technician would be available from the Victorian Broadcasting Network's nearest station 3CV Maryborough. 3MA Mildura

Short term exemption has been granted in the past to cover recreation leave of the qualified technician. 4LG Longreach

This station has great difficulties with technical staffing due to its remoteness and it has the Board's qualified approval to employ an unqualified man as Chief Technician. 4VL Charleville

This station (whose Manager is a qualified technician) has a long history of difficulty in retaining the services of a qualified technician due to its remoteness. The Board indicated to the station that ft would be prepared to consider maintenance On the basis ot periodical visits by a consulting engineer as a permanent arrangement (as an alternative to providing a qualified technician in addition to the Manager). The offer was not taken up as a qualified technician was subsequently recruited. He, however, left and currently an unqualified technician is employed with the Board's approval and subject to specific reservations as to the duties he may perform.

(2)   The Board has taken no action to increase the output of trained personnel, either in conjunction with educational authorities or the Professional Radio Employees' Institute of Australasia. Generally, it can be stated that the majority of commercial broadcasting stations are adequately manned and those stations where difficulties arise are in country areas, often relatively remote, and the problem is to attract qualified technicians away from the large cities and provincial towns. A greater output of qualified technicians each year would be unlikely to ease this type of situation significantly.

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