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Monday, 21 April 1980
Page: 1589

Senator ARCHER (TASMANIA) - Will the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications draw the attention of the Minister he represents to the fact that the apparent predisposition, or in some cases obsession, of newscasters, feature programmers and public affairs commentators with regard to matters of rape, abortion, homosexuality and sex generally is not shared by the vast majority of normal listeners and viewers? Will he ask the Minister to consider taking up the matter with both the public and the private sectors of the industry, with the suggestion that there are many other subjects which present far more acceptable listening and viewing to a dominant proportion of the public which is getting more and more fed up with the continuing decline in the presented levels of standards and good taste?

Senator CHANEY - I receive occasional letters which suggest that the view which has been put by Senator Archer in his question is shared by other citizens around Australia who feel that standards have been allowed to decline on radio and television. As has been stated very often by my colleague the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, the question of program standards on commercial broadcasting stations is one for the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, which consults industry bodies on these questions. As far as the Australian Broadcasting Commission is concerned, it is a matter for the Commission itself, but I think it would be generally true that the Commission abides by the standards which are laid down by the Tribunal for commercial organisations. The general standard of presentation has been subject to several inquiries. Community views have been put to those inquiries. The standards which have been developed generally follow the results of the inquiries which have been held. The Government and the Minister have consistently held the view that this is a matter to be dealt with by the Tribunal and by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I do not believe that there will be any departure from that point of view. But I will ask Mr Staley to pass on the views contained in the honourable senator's question to both the ABC and the Tribunal because, as I indicated in opening my response, I do receive some correspondence from people which indicates that the view which the honourable senator has put forward is shared by a number of citizens from all round Australia. That is a matter which ought to be brought to the attention of those who are responsible for broadcasting.

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