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Tuesday, 10 December 1974
Page: 3254

Senator POYSER (VICTORIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for the Media. Has the Minister's attention been drawn to an article in today's edition of the 'Australian' in which it is claimed that the television points system has failed? The article also claims that local content and the quality of local content have declined. Is this a factual assessment of the results achieved since the points system was introduced?

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) - I have seen the statement to which Senator Poyser refers and, I must state, with great respect to Mr Hamilton, that when he makes allegations of the kind that he has made, apparently without inquiring into the facts, unfortunately all he does- and I say this with great respect to him- is to destroy his own credibility as a critic. The latest figures that I have been able to obtain from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board show that there have been striking increases in local content in 3 important areas since the points system was introduced 2 years ago. I notice that Mr Hamilton wants a 75 per cent Australian content in programming, and that of course would be across the board. The object of the points system is to bring about an increase of Australian content in prime viewing time, thus increasing the quantity and bringing about an improvement in the quality of Australian productions. So far as drama is concerned, before the introduction of the points system, the first release drama was running at about 14 hours a week. Recent figures show that it is now running at 22& hours a week, which is an increase of some 60 per cent. So far as current affairs programs are concerned the Board tells me that there has been an increase of some 40 per cent in current affairs programming in peak viewing time. So far as local content variety is concerned- and I understand that this figure includes the Australian Broadcasting Commission, on which network Mr Hamilton had a series of programs- the Australian content is up by some 40 per cent.

Another factor that I should mention in reply to the honourable senator is the number of sets in use, which might give some idea of the viewers' feelings on an increase in quality. For 10 years before the introduction of the points system there was a consistent falling off in the number of sets in use but this trend has been reversed in the last 18 months since the advent of the points system.

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