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Wednesday, 30 August 1972
Page: 580

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:

(1)   Was section 116(2.) of I he Broadcasting and Television Act written into the Act, in the first instance, by the Chifley Government as a result of the John Austral series of radio broadcasts which were radio dramatisations of political events connected with an election and deliberately designed to influence the results of a Federal election.

(2)   Is the television programme 'Our Man in Canberra' a comedy or satirical programme designed for general entertainment and nol designed to deliberately influence the result of an election.

(3)   As the Commission has apparently decided that the programme is in breach of section 116 (2.) of the Act, can the Postmaster-General say if the report that some commercial stations are showing interest in the purchase of the programme is correct.

(4)   Can the Postmaster-General explain why on the one hand the Australian Broadcasting Commission is apparently adopting a literal interpretation of this section of the Act towards this programme which employs Australian actors and is written by an Australian writer, whilst on the other hand commercial television stations apparently are allowed to write their own law so far as relays of football matches on Sunday mornings are concerned.

Senator GREENWOOD The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   Section 116(2.) had its origin in Section 89 (3) of the 1942 Act. This Act was amended by Section 89 (2) of the 1956 Act to include a reference to television and to extend the operation of the provision.

(2)   Yes.

(3)   The Commission believes that by showing Our Man in Canberra' it could be in breach of Section 116(2.) of the Act and is therefore seeking further legal advice.

(4)   The legal position regarding the powers of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to control Sunday morning programming is not clear. As has already been announced, it is the Government's intention to legislate to put the position beyond doubt.

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