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Tuesday, 8 October 1985
Page: 771


Senator COLSTON —I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Communications. Since the Australian Broadcasting Corporation took the unbelievable step of discontinuing its State-wide Saturday racing service in Queensland, has it been able to justify its decision to race followers throughout the State? How long had this service been provided? What was the real reason for the service being discontinued? What provisions have been made for race followers, particularly those in rural areas, to receive a radio racing service? Has the ABC been able to determine whether these provisions are satisfactory?


Senator WALSH —I will answer the different parts of the question but not necessarily in the order asked. I understand the ABC has provided a racing broadcast service in Queensland for some 50 years and that the ABC Queensland radio management recently decided to review its allocation for sporting programs. In view of the duplication in the metropolitan area of race broadcasting-that is, duplication by commercial stations and the ABC-it decided to terminate ABC race broadcasts in Brisbane through station 4QR and to provide alternative programs. As a result the ABC no longer had a requirement for an on-course commentator. However, the ABC will continue to broadcast the results of all Brisbane and major interstate races as part of the Brisbane radio sporting services. The races are broadcast by commercial stations.

So far as the country areas of Queensland are concerned, the ABC, with assistance from the Queensland Totalisator Administration Board, has arranged for the relay of the course commentator's description of Brisbane races to its regional Radio 3 listeners, that is, the on-course descriptions provided by the commercial station or stations. As I understand it, the ABC has not yet conducted any follow-up research to see whether those arrangements are satisfactory to its country listeners, but, prima facie, they should be.


Senator COLSTON —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I understand that the Minister said that the service had been discontinued, at least partially, because there was a duplication of services by the ABC and other Brisbane radio stations. Are we to assume from that that where there is any duplication by the ABC and commercial stations in Brisbane, for example, in breakfast shows and news reports, they will also be discontinued?


Senator WALSH —The answer to that is that I do not know whether they will be discontinued. I will refer the supplementary question to the Minister. It seems that an air of unreality surrounds the making of exact comparisons between a breakfast session and the description, admittedly by two different commentators, of precisely the same horse race. One would expect more variation from one breakfast session to another than from two people describing the same horse race.