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Tuesday, 6 December 1983
Page: 3340

Question No. 141

Dr Charlesworth asked the Minister for Communications, upon notice, on 12 May 1983:

(1) Does this week mark the first Public Broadcasting Week in Australia.

(2) Will he outline (a) what the Government perceives to be the role of public broadcasting in Australia and (b) the initiatives the Government intends to take with regard to public broadcasting.

(3) Will another public broadcasting licence be issued in Perth for the establishment of an ethnic radio station.

Mr Duffy —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes. The first Public Broadcasting Week was held from 8 to 11 May 1983, commemorating ten years of public broadcasting in Australia.

(2) (a) The Government recognises the importance of the public broadcasting sector in the Australian broadcasting system. The development of public broadcasting has resulted in a significant diversification of control of the airwaves. Meanwhile the local nature of programming and the access offered by many stations, enables individuals and special interest groups to participate in broadcasting and to listen to programs of direct relevance to them.

(b) The Government is committed to the continued expansion of the sector within an orderly planning framework, subject of course to the availability of frequencies and planning capacity. Development of low coverage community licences like those issued recently in Sydney is the Government's major priority in metropolitan areas, along with the establishment of community stations in unserved country areas. There is also growing interest in establishing a second station in some country areas to met the needs of special interest groups. In relation to funding, the Public Broadcasting Association of Australia is in the process of establishing the Public Broadcasting Foundation, with the objective of raising funds from public and private sector sources to assist stations and prospective licensees. As announced in the 1983-84 Budget the Government is providing $100,000 to the PBAA to examine the feasibility of raising funds in this way. In addition, the Foundation will be making recommendations to me on the disbursement of the $200,000 which has been made available by the Government in 1983-84 for grants to public broadcasters.

(3) Several groups have registered interest in applying for a third public broadcasting licence in Perth, and my Department will be carrying out detailed assessment of these proposals in 1984-85. In the event that applications are invited, the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal will select the most suitable applicant after holding a public inquiry in accordance with the provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942.