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Tuesday, 28 April 1987
Page: 2139

Mr DOWNER(10.56) —Tonight I wish to say something about the problem for residents in the town of Victor Harbor in my electorate in receiving television pictures. For many years the town of Victor Harbor has suffered from very poor television reception. It is particularly unfortunate in that town because it has a very high proportion of retired people. The simple fact is that those retired people spend a good deal of time at home and have much need for their television sets to provide them with appropriate entertainment. The Victor Harbor area, including places such as Port Elliot, Goolwa and Middleton, and going up the coast on the other side to Yankalilla, contains something like 15,000 people. All of these people are in what is described as the Adelaide television area; and all of them are at least entitled to receive the Australian Broadcasting Corporation through Channel 2, the Special Broadcasting Service and the three commercial television stations. However, the simple fact is that many of those people are having a great deal of difficulty in receiving a suitable picture.

This problem was not raised by the local community until recently when a group of community spirited local residents got together and told the local newspaper, the Victor Harbor Times, that they were launching a campaign for better television reception. Subsequent to this I met a delegation of these people in Victor Harbor at the electorate office of the State member of Parliament for the area, Mr Ted Chapman, and discussed what I could do to help improve the television reception in the district. My response to those people was that I would get in touch immediately with both the Department of Communications and the relevant television channels in order to persuade them to put in the appropriate translators so that the picture on their television sets would improve. The response by the Department of Communications was very favourable and very hasty. I congratulate the Department for responding so well to my re-presentations on behalf of the people of Victor Harbor.

The Department immediately conducted a study into the quality of television reception in the district, and the results of the initial study showed that the quality of reception was not particularly good. As a result of that initial study the Department is going to conduct a further and more detailed study but, bearing in mind that it has done a study already, I am absolutely certain that the subsequent study will produce the same result and that the Department will come to the obvious conclusion that it should come to-that it has a responsibility to put in a translator so that the people of this district can receive proper television reception from the ABC and from SBS.

I have also written to the commercial television stations-Channels 7, 10 and 9-asking them to take appropriate action as well. So far I have received an acknowledgment to my representations from two of those stations, which are investigating the problem. I think that they, too, have a responsibility to provide the 15,000 people in the Adelaide television district with proper television reception. After all, from a commercial point of view, those television stations have a great deal to gain. They have a market of 15,000 people just waiting to receive good pictures-good pictures which would include the persuasive advertising of those television stations. I want those television stations to take up their responsibilities, to put in the appropriate translators so that the people of the south coast can get a decent reception.

I hope very much that the Department of Communications will follow up its many surveys by introducing the appropriate translators itself. The alternative proposal-that the local community should fund these translators-is not one that I find attractive because these towns are in the Adelaide television area. The Government in this case-in the case of the ABC and SBS-has a responsibility, bearing in mind that it has defined the Adelaide television area to include the south coast, to give the people in that area the same reception obtained by people in the closer metropolitan area. I hope that the commercial stations respond favourably to my representations and do the honourable thing by the people of the south coast-give them good and clear television reception.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Leo McLeay) -Order! It being 11 p.m., the debate is interrupted. The House stands adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow.

House adjourned at 11 p.m.