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Tuesday, 25 September 1973
Page: 1415

Mr KING (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) - I direct my question to the Postmaster-General. I refer to a statement attributed to Mr Des Foster, the Federal Director of the Federation of Australian Commercial Broadcasters, who said:

As a result of the Federal Government's decision to increase land line charges many country radio stations will face a financial crisis.

Can the Postmaster-General inform the House of the exact position? Will there be an increase in land line rates as from 1 October? In the broad, what is the extent of such increases? If this is the case, will the Postmaster-General delay such alterations to a later date and so give those people who arc interested an opportunity to examine the consequences and, in turn, to make representations to the Government on this important issue?

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is true that new rates for landline charges are proposed. I received in this morning's mail a letter from Mr Foster indicating that there are country radio stations which are concerned about this matter. The question of finance, which falls into 2 parts, is related to a limited number of country stations. Some 15 country stations have applied for what is called a news concession. The amount involved is about $18,000. The concession varies in accordance with the type of station and where it is located. Also, in relation to land line use, charges have been adjusted to correspond with those being paid by the general public. I think the adjustment will result in an increase of some $46,000 spread over all stations in Australia. I am not aware of the individual problems of any radio station. However, I can indicate to the honourable member that I am in the process of advising Mr Foster of the situation by Telex. I would be pleased to hear the particular problems of any individual station. The matter could be reviewed in that light.

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