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Wednesday, 18 May 1960

Mr STEWART (Lang) .- The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bandidt) has kept us entertained in a lighthearted way for the past half-hour. I feel that he did not mean most of what he said but, instead, was merely filling in time and supporting the Country Party Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson). The Australian Labour Party opposes this bill chiefly because it does not believe that the bill goes far enough. In our opinion, it is a weak attempt to curtail the monopolistic interests which are developing in this country, not only in the television sphere but also in the press and radio spheres.

Honorable members who have participated in this debate have indicated that the personal freedom of individuals and companies should not be interfered with. They have spoken about the small shareholders in many companies. I have here the list of shareholders in Television Corporation Proprietary Limited, Sydney, and Amalgamated Television Services Limited, Sydney, which I obtained from the files of the RegistrarGeneral in Sydney about the middle of last year. I have listed those shareholders who have shares of a face value of £1,000 or more. In Television Corporation Proprietary Limited there are only 35 shareholders who came into that category. The nominal capital of the company is £2,000,000 and the issued capital is £1,900,000. The company is controlled very substantially by Australian Consolidated Press Limited, 168 Castlereagh-street, Sydney. Among the 35 shareholders who hold over £1,000 worth of shares, the following shareholdings are worthy of note: - Australian Consolidated Press Limited holds 138,900 shares; Color-Tone Proprietary Limited, 168 Castlereagh-street, Sydney - the same address as Australian Consolidated Press Limited - holds 32,000 shares; Conpress Printing Limited, of the same address, holds 32,000 shares; Consolidated Press Holdings, of the same address, holds 15,000 shares; Consolidated Press Holdings, Northbourne-avenue, Canberra, holds 32,000 shares; and Wilson's Laundry Proprietary Limited, 168 Castlereagh-street, Sydney - again the same address as Australian Consolidated Press Limited - holds 35,300 shares. If you add the shares which are held by companies which give the address of 168 Castlereagh-street,

Sydney, you will see that the great preponderance of shares in Television Corporation Proprietary Limited is held or controlled by Australian Consolidated Press Limited. The small shareholders - those people who have a few shares in the company - are completely outvoted in every direction by the large shareholders whom I have named.

The same thing applies to Amalgamated Television Services Limited, a company which is controlled by the " Herald ". Associated Newspapers Limited holds 125,000 shares, and John Fairfax & Sons Proprietary Limited, and members of the Fairfax family, hold 700,000 shares. To speak of the interest of the small shareholder, particularly in relation to television stations, is so much nonsense because the man who has 150 or 250 shares cannot possibly make his voice heard or have anything to do with the control of the company which is run by the large shareholders.

Before I mention the shareholdings on other television stations and their association with broadcasting stations and newspapers, it is interesting to consider the newspapers which are printed daily in Australia. Companies owned or controlled by Herald and Weekly Times Limited of Victoria sell 47.4 per cent, of all papers sold in Australia. John Fairfax and Co. Proprietary Limited, or companies owned or controlled by the Herald and Weekly Times Limited, print 73.6 per cent, of all papers sold in Australia, and companies owned or controlled by Herald and Weekly Times Limited print 76.6 per cent, of all papers sold outside the Sydney metropolitan area.

When we bear those figures in mind; when we remember the organizations which control the newspapers in Australia, and when we look at their shareholdings and their control, either directly or indirectly, not only of newspapers but also of radio and television stations, we find that Herald and Weekly Times Limited controls such newspapers as the " Sun News-Pictorial ", of Melbourne; the " Herald " of Melbourne; the "Advertiser" of Adelaide; the "CourierMail" of Brisbane, and the "Telegraph" of Brisbane. The company controls, either directly or indirectly through associated companies, shareholding in the " HeraldSun " television station in Melbourne, Tele vision Broadcasters in Adelaide and Brisbane Television Limited in Queensland. The company's interest in radio stations was revealed in a search of the registers in the various cities. It has an interest in 3DB Melbourne, 3LK Central Victoria, 4BK Brisbane, 4AK Darling Downs, 5AD Adelaide, 5MU Murray Bridge, 5PI Crystal Brook and 5SE Mount Gambier. The ramifications of the Herald and Weekly Times Limited in the field of mass communication can be judged from the information which I have just supplied.

To say that the newspapers, with their interests in the press, radio and television, will not be able to control the propaganda of this country is a figment of the imagination to any person who holds the contrary view because it is easy to see that any company which controls newspapers, radio and television stations to the extent that Herald and Weekly Times Limited does is in a wonderful position to develop and foster any opinion in the mind of the listening or viewing public.

Let me now pass to John Fairfax Limited which controls the " Sydney Morning Herald", the Sydney "Sun", and is also suspected of being associated with Truth and Sportsman Limited which produces the Sydney " Daily Mirror ". It is associated with Amalgamated Television Services Limited in Sydney and controls Queensland Television Limited in association with Truth and Sportsman Limited. In the radio field the company owns 14 per cent, of shares in the organizations which control radio stations 2GB Sydney, 2AD Armidale, 5DN Adelaide, and 2CA Canberra. In Western Australia the same thing applies. West Australian Newspapers Limited controls the " Daily News ", " The West Australian ", television station TVW Perth and, in association with Musgroves Limited, it owns 50 per cent, of 61X Perth, 6MD Merredin, 6WB Katanning and 6BY Bridgetown. In Victoria, David Syme and the Victorian Broadcasting Network control " The Age " and are a minority shareholder in television station GTV and radio station 3CV Maryborough, 3HA Hamilton and 3PR Sale are controlled directly or indirectly. In Sydney, Consolidated Press Limited controls the " Daily Telegraph " and Television Corporation Limited. Davies Brothers Limited in Tasmania controls newspapers, television and radio stations. The company controls the Hobart " Mercury ", TVT Hobart and 7HO Hobart. In Adelaide, News Limited controls the Adelaide " News ", Southern Television Limited and radio station 2BH Broken Hill and is a minority shareholder in 5DN Adelaide. It is the same wherever you go or wherever you look in the country or city areas.

In Newcastle, for instance, the Newcastle " Herald and Miners Advocate " owns or controls, directly or indirectly in that city the " Newcastle Herald and Miners Advocate ", the " Newcastle Sun " and, in association with Singleton Angus, 2MW Murwillumbah and 2NX Bolworra

In the field of television and radio you will see that the association of newspapers with companies controlling radio and television stations is rampant the whole way through. If we look at the list of directors of some of the companies we find that they are associated with many companies. A name well known to all of us is R. A. G. Henderson, who is a director of Queensland T.V. Limited, a director of Amalgamated Television Services Limited, a director of Associated Newspapers Limited and of John Fairfax Limited, registered owner of the " Daily Advertiser " in Wagga. Mr. P. H. Palmer, secretary of John Fairfax Limited, is alternative director of John Fairfax Limited for Mr. R. A. G. Henderson and is director of Associated Newspapers Limited, Amalgamated Television Services, TCN 7, and of broadcasting station 2GB. Mr. John D. Patience is a director of broadcasting station 2GB, a director of Young Broadcasters, a director of Canberra Broadcasters and a director of Amalgamated Television Services Limited.

Mr. ErnestHigginbotham is a director of New England Broadcasters, a director of 2MO Gunnedah, a director of Moree Broadcasting Development, 2VN, and a director of Tamworth Radio Development, 2TM. Sir Frank Packer is managing-director and chairman of Australian Consolidated Press Holdings, Australian Consolidated Press Limited, Conpress Printing Limited and Television Corporation Limited. The same applies to Neil H. Mclntyre, Stanley R. Clarke, Angus H. McLachlan, Mr. J. O. Fairfax and Mr. W. O. Fairfax.

The reason why I have given all this information is that it was not given to us by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) when he brought down the bill. I think that honorable members after hearing the things which I have read out have an indication of why this bill was introduced by the Postmaster-General. It is because he fears the ramifications of these monopolistic interests in the field of our mass communication and has found it necessary to curtail them as he is endeavouring to do in the amendments which he has brought down. I support him in the efforts he is making, because at least he is making some attempt to control the position and is endeavouring to do something about it.

The information which I have given is only a small part of the information which would be available to him, particularly after having had discussions with the Director of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board on the subject of the television licence inquiries which have just been concluded. And it is because of the information which has been given to him by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board about the further efforts of the men and the companies I have mentioned to obtain television licences in most country areas that the Minister has seen fit and found it necessary to bring down the legislation which we are discussing. The fact that he has limited the ownership of television licences to two for any company and has stipulated that no more than 15 per cent, of the shareholding can be held in any other company and that no man can be the director of more than two television stations is an indication that he is convinced that these people who have control of radio and television facilities in this country at present are endeavouring to control the new licences which are about to be issued.

I feel that it is up to the PostmasterGeneral to bring into this House the information which has been made available to him by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. If he does so, every member of this House will be informed of the facts, as he is, and will be able to appreciate far better whether the limitation to 15 per cent, of the shareholding in a company is sufficient to curtail some of the activities which are being carried out at the present time in the field of mass communication. I feel that this bill should be supported by any one who desires to see that the control of this country is kept in the hands of the elected parliaments and is not allowed to get into the hands of any section of individuals who control mass mediums of propaganda.

Mr Hamilton - Do you support the bill?

Mr STEWART - I support the bill as it stands at the moment, because I realize full well that we have no opportunity of carrying our amendment. I realize that the Country Party and those members of the Liberal Party who know that these things are going on and who are now aware of some of the dangers which are apparent in the issue of new television licences are not prepared to go far enough. They are not prepared to come into the House and say that the press, the radio and the television stations of this country are being controlled by a few people. As far as we are concerned, the bill does not go nearly far enough. We feel that the people who hold these interests in the television stations and radio stations at present should be curtailed, should not be allowed to hold any further interests, and should even have to give up some of the interests that they hold at the present time, rather than that some of the companies should be allowed to obtain a further television licence in country areas.

The full and proper effect of television has not been felt in this country yet because we have had television approximately only since the end of 1956, and because of inexperience in the field the propaganda aspect of television has not been used to the full extent to which it has been used in other countries. But if we allow the control of these television stations to get into the hands of a few people, who at present have far too much control in the propaganda and mass communication mediums of Australia, we will live to rue the day. I agree wholeheartedly with the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. The information which is now in the hands of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board should be placed before this Parliament, so that every member of this Parliament will have the opportunity to judge for himself, in the same way as the Postmaster-General has had to judge for himself, whether it is possible for the mass mediums of communication to fall into the hands of people who already have control over a great portion of them. For that reason I support the amendment.

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