Dáil Éireann - Volume 331 - 01 December, 1981

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Castlebar Song Contest.

23. Mr. Flynn asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he is aware of the controversy regarding the live transmission of the Castlebar Song Contest on Friday, 2 October 1981, and of the suggestion that the disastrous quality of sound and vision was the fault of the Post Office; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Mr. Cooney: I am aware that the quality of the transmission was not satisfactory.

As indicated in a statement issued by the Department on 5 October, the degradation [608] in the quality of transmission did not occur in that part of the transmission for which the Department was responsible.

The arrangements for transmission of broadcasts of this kind are under review in consultation with RTE.

Mr. Flynn: Would the Minister agree that this was a most unfortunate occurrence, that every assistance in fact was given by the technical staff of the Post Office to the engineering section of RTE to have this matter sorted out and that no blame should attach to the people of the Post Office in this regard?

Mr. Cooney: I am grateful to the Deputy for saying that, because that was the position. He can be assured that everything is being done to ensure there is no recurrence.

Mr. Flynn: Would the Minister agree that there is some duplication of effort in so far as outside broadcasts of this nature are concerned and that perhaps if the Post Office were given a much freer input we would have better sound and vision in these types of broadcasts?

Mr. Cooney: It is hardly accurate to say that there is duplication. There are two authorities responsible. To that extent there can be differing qualities of transmission. I agree that the proper thing would be to have one authority in charge of all transmissions but that might not be technically feasible at all times. But so far as is technically possible we will have the position rectified for next year.

Mr. Reynolds: Is the Minister now saying that he accepts that no blame attaches to the Post Office technicians or engineers in relation to this unfortunate happening concerning the song contest in Castlebar? Will he now accept that the statement made by the Director General at that time was unfounded.

Mr. Cooney: The Deputy would be aware that the Department issued a statement immediately following the statement [609] of the Director General putting the record right.

Mr. Killilea: In view of the fact that the following morning the Director General of RTE took it upon himself to categorically blame the officials of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and particularly the technicians, what does he propose to do now in regard to asking the Director General of RTE to apologise to the people that he wrongly accused?

Mr. Cooney: The Deputy will be aware that the Department's statement made in the immediate aftermath put the record straight and the people in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs were assured that the charges against them were inaccurate.

Mr. Killilea: I am not satisfied that that is adequate. For far too many years it has been too easy to blame officials in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. I would like the Minister to bring this home to the Director General of RTE in a letter written by him complaining about this attitude towards officials in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs.

Mr. Cooney: The Deputy can be quite assured that I will defend the reputation of the Department as strongly as necessary.

Mr. Reynolds: When the proper information became available from the technicians in the Department it was then put to the Director General of RTE and he refused to comment or to set the record straight. There is a responsibility on the Minister to have the record set straight.

Mr. Cooney: The Deputy need have no doubt that the record has been set straight.

Mr. Gene Fitzgerald: Could I have written replies to Questions Nos. 414, 269 and 270 on today's Order Paper?

An Ceann Comhairle: The remaining questions will appear on tomorrow's Order Paper.