Seanad Éireann - Volume 81 - 11 June, 1975

Broadcasting Authority (Amendment) Bill, 1975: Committee Stage (Resumed).


Amendment No. 64 not moved.

Government amendment No. 65:

In page 8, subsection (1), line 5, to add the following proviso to the subsection:

“; provided that as regards a television broadcast the Authority shall be regarded as complying with the requirements of this section if it records in sound only the broadcast.”

Minister for Posts and Telegraphs (Dr. Cruise-O'Brien): It would be very wasteful of both money and space if RTE were required to retain vision and sound recordings of every broadcast. Sound recordings should normally be adequate to enable the complaints commission to decide on a [990] complaint. Accordingly, the amendment is designed to ensure that the Authority will be statutorily required to retain only sound recording.

Mr. Yeats: I agree fully with this amendment. I must say that when reading this Bill it struck me as a very wasteful and expensive process to be recording all this material on video tape. But I would like to speak on amendment No. 66 because I do think the Minister——

An Cathaoirleach: We are on amendment No. 65 at the moment.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 66:

In page 8, subsection (2), to delete “such” from line 7 and substitute “at least sixty days or for such other” and to substitute “and when a complaint is being investigated by the Commission, the recording of the broadcast to which the complaint relates, together with the recording, made and being retained pursuant to this section, of any other broadcast which is relevant to that broadcast,” for “and such recording” in line 8.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: The purpose of this amendment is to introduce a qualified limit on the period of retention of recordings by the Authority and to provide that only such recordings as are relevant to complaints that are being investigated by the commission shall be supplied to them. The insertion of the qualifying period is in recognition of the cost to RTE of retention of tapes for an unduly long period. The limitation on the tapes that the commission may statutorily request is a safeguard against undue demands being made by the commission on the Authority in this matter. If I may, at the same time refer to Senator Yeats's sub-amendment, in the opinion of the commission I think it is an improvement and I am happy to accept it.

Mr. Yeats: I thank the Minister for accepting my amendment to amendment No. 66. One can visualise disputes between each side as to [991] whether a broadcast is relevant or not. There is just one matter I would like to raise on this ministerial amendment. He may have problems with the wording of the Performers' Protection Act, 1968. The general rule of this Act is that in the interests of performers generally tapes, whether of radio or of television broadcasts, may only be kept by RTE for six months. Under his amendment, while the matter of course is to be settled between RTE and the commission, there is no time limit. Therefore, to provide for that he would need to make some reference in the following subsection to Performers' Protection Act. He refers to it of course but only in section 3, subsection (1). If he examines the Act he will find that subsection (2) and subsection (4) says that radio recordings must be destroyed after six months as a general rule. Subsection (3) and subsection (4) does the same thing for films. He would have to add these to the section referred to in subsection (3), otherwise there could be problems.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I thank the Senator for his interesting point and I shall consider it between this and the Report Stage.

Mr. Yeats: I move amendment No. 1 to amendment No. 66:

After “of any other broadcast which” to insert “in the opinion of the Commission”.

Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

Section 7, as amended, put and agreed to.


Government amendment No. 67:

In page 8, subsection (1), to insert “(Amendment)” after “Authority” in line 20.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: This is a correction of a technical error.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Yeats: I move amendment No. 68:

[992] In subsection (3) to delete lines 28 to 30 and substitute “the order shall not be made until a resolution approving of the draft has been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas”.

In section 8 it is provided that:

The Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance and the Minister for the Public Service, by order assign to the Authority such functions (in addition to the functions conferred on it by section 16 in the Principal Act... as the Minister thinks proper and specifies in the order...

We are told in the explanatory memorandum to this Bill that:

This section is intended to facilitate the setting up of subsidiaries by RTE to engage in particular activities should this be deemed appropriate.

One has no objection to this proposition, though I wuld be interested to hear from the Minister exactly what subsidiaries he has in mind. Obviously it is a relatively minor extension to the powers of RTE that is intended. The way this section is worded there is absolutely no limit to the powers given to the Minister to give additional functions to RTE. The section concerned in the Principal Act that he has power to add to is the one that gives them the power to maintain and operate broadcasting stations, provide for the distribution of programmes, to originate programmes, to prepare programmes made, to make contracts, agreements, arrangements, acquire, make use of copyrights, licences, privileges, and so on. That section deals with the entire functions and powers of RTE. Some of them are not of very great importance but others are of fundamental importance. The Minister is giving himself in this section carte blanche to allow any additional powers to be given to RTE. This is the type of thing one feels ought to be done by legislation. Generally speaking, it has been done by legislation before and to a limited extent it is being done again by legislation in this Bill. I do not think we should [993] accept the proposition that by mere ministerial order, the Minister should be given this very extensive power.

In this section the Minister provides in regard to such an order that:

...a draft thereof shall be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas and if a resolution disapproving of the draft is passed by either such House within the next subsequent 21 days on which it has sat...the order shall not be made.

On reading it again, it may meet my point. I had not noticed the last five words “...the order shall not be made.” I am right. It is too early in the morning to be dealing with this kind of thing. The Minister, in effect, can make the order and it will be a good one unless a resolution is passed disapproving of it. What I seek in my amendment is the reverse — the Minister is not entitled to make an order unless an affirmative decision is reached, in other words, unless it is discussed and agreed to by each House. In such cases, it would be reasonable to give the Minister his power, in this type of legislation. It would not be a safeguard to provide that the Minister can make the order, which will be a good order, unless it is disapproved of by each House. We know there are hundreds of such things each year. Whatever the theory may be, as a practical and political safeguard against subsidiary legislation on an undue scale it is not satisfactory.

In view of the very extensive powers which the Minister seeks, he should agree to this amendment. Alternatively, since according to his Memorandum, he merely seeks to give RTE the facility of setting up subsidiary bodies, why can he now not add this specific power as an addition to section 60 of the Principal Act, so that they have power to set up subsidiaries and make provision for it in this Bill? I do not think we ought to agree to a general blanket power to add any powers that might be required at any time. I know the Minister does not intend to do so at present but in ten years' time he or some other Minister could, and undoubtedly would, use it for such purposes.

[994] Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I think the proposed amendment is unduly restrictive. The need for a resolution of either House should arise only if the House feels the order should not be made. A period of 21 sitting days should be adequate to enable either House to decide on the need for such a resolution. I am afraid I cannot agree to the amendment. It is clear that if there was likely to be controversy over an order made here, action would not take place under it; it would not be prudent for any Minister to take action under it until the 21 days had passed and the order thereby been approved. The wording here is not new, it is almost identical with that in the Transport Act, 1950.

I do not think it can be said that the Minister is giving himself carte blanche. The principle introduced in many different stages of this Bill is to reduce the element of carte blanche by making it necessary to bring matters before the Oireachtas and have them discussed. This is an element which is present in this Bill to a much greater extent than in the present legislation. It is not correct to interpret sections of the Bill as giving carte blanche, particularly as the Minister has to have the consent of the Minister for Finance and the Minister for the Public Service to start with, and must undergo the scrutiny of the Houses of the Oireachtas subsequently.

Mr. Yeats: I agree with Minister that what he proposes to do will not cause controversy. The problem that arises is that in order to achieve a relatively small purpose he is giving himself extensive powers. It is not much of a help, from a legislative point of view, for the Minister to say that he cannot do this by himself, he must have the consent of two other Ministers, or, being realistic, only one other Minister since the same Minister will normally share the burdens of the offices of Finance and the Public Service.

I can see the force of the Minister's argument that it might be unduly restrictive to phrase subsection (3) as proposed in this amendment — I suppose his argument has some point to it although I am not even half convinced [995] — but I cannot understand why he cannot, since he has a limited function which he wishes to add to those of the Broadcasting Authority, simply put this down in the section saying that to the list of functions laid down in section 16 of the Principal Act there shall be added such and such. It would probably be paragraph (1) to subsection (2); one simple paragraph could be added giving him the power to set up these subsidiary bodies. I cannot see any problem in doing it that way. Then we would be back in the original position, where in order to add additional powers to the Broadcasting Authority, legislation was required. It would have been very simple in the case of the Principal Act to provide that the Authority would have such powers as may be provided by ministerial order, but this was not done. It was set out in the greatest detail, debated and agreed to by both Houses of the Oireachtas. In such circumstances I cannot see why the Minister is taking it in this way.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: With respect, I think the Senator may be making rather heavy weather out of no great difference. The type of functions which it might be considered desirable to have performed by a subsidiary are: provision and maintenance of cable systems, publication of educational tests related to educational programmes provided by RTE, should these develop to a significant extent in the future. The parliamentary draftsman has advised us that the present wording is the most appropriate way of providing the power for RTE to set up a subsidiary. As I mentioned, provision for setting up subsidiaries by another State-sponsored body, CIE, is contained in the Transport Act, 1950. At least three subsidiaries have been set up by CIE in accordance with statutory orders made under this provision. Gaeltarra Éireann has also power to set up subsidiaries and to take shares in other companies under the Gaeltacht Industries Act, 1957. I do not see the need for the amendment.

Mr. Yeats: I am prepared to withdraw [996] this amendment, but I shall try to draft one for Report Stage which will have the effect of allowing the Minister to allot to RTE such subsidiary functions as may be laid down by order. I accept that that is what he wants to do. I also accept that there would be no objection to his doing it by order. What worries me is that even though the Minister may agree not to use these powers, these unlimited powers are given in this section and it is bad parliamentary practice. I am not satisfied by the Minister's point that it has been done on previous occasions. That is one of the great problems which we face in such legislation: it is not merely by allowing provisions to go through— such as giving an individual Minister extensive subsidiary powers which, strictly speaking, should be reserved to the Houses of the Oireachtas—but also that other Ministers can in the future assume powers because they were provided for in the Broadcasting Authority Act, 1975.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: It makes the blood run cold.

Mr. Yeats: It really does. It does not make ministerial blood run cold, but it should make the blood of any Member of a Parliamentary body run cold. I shall try and see what I can do at Report Stage.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I shall be glad to consider a Senatorial amendment at the Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 8, as amended, agreed to.


Question proposed: “That section 9 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Yeats: I have a couple of queries. First, subparagraph (2) of paragraph (a) provides that:

any expenses certified by the Minister as having been incurred by relation to interfering with or injuriously affecting wireless telegraphy apparatus for receiving only,...

should be deducted by him before he hands over the licence money to RTE.

[997] I have no objection to that. It is the present position. It seems reasonable that the costs of seeing that radio/ television sets are not interfered with should be paid by RTE. Why does the Minister only provide for his expenses to be deducted?

If I might refer him to section 19, which we will be discussing in due course, he makes provision here for apparatus to be inspected, tested and so on, either by himself or by the Authority. Obviously, if it is done by himself he can deduct the expenses, under this paragraph we are discussing and if it is done by the Authority, it is their cost. He also provides for any other body specified in his order dealing with these matters—as to the implications and meaning of this other body, we will come to that in due course. For the moment I am merely asking why he does not provide for the expenses of whatever other body he has in mind being deducted also? Who is going to pay for them?

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Senator Yeats' point about what happens about the expenses of any other body is a very reasonable one. I will take it into consideration and see what can be done.

Mr. Deasy: I wish to refer to the financing of television for areas which could be classed as “no channel areas”. In mountainous regions where there are deep valleys and so on it is common to come across pockets where Telefís Éireann cannot be received or, if it can, very badly. We have two such areas in County Waterford. The people there are very aggrieved that they have to pay a licence fee and their chances of getting reception is entirely dependent upon weather conditions. The Nire Valley, in particular, gets diabolical reception and in the adjacent village of Ballymacarbery, at this time of year, you are more likely to receive Spanish television than RTE—you get freak reception. The people in that area are not adverse to a little bit of blood being spilled on the football field or the hurling field, but bull-fights are not their cup of tea. Could a promise or [998] date be given when a booster could be provided to give proper reception? I am sure there are a large number of other areas, especially in the southwest, with the same problem. We had the very same case in the Blackwater Valley near the village of Clashmore. Reception is entirely dependent on weather conditions. Can the Minister promise any hope for the future? When might they hope for a proper service? It is not correct to demand a licence fee from these people when they cannot be guaranteed a reasonable quality of reception.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I have great sympathy with the category of viewers for whom the Senator speaks. I am familiar with the problem. There is a £1.5 million programme for improving reception by RTE being financed by Exchequer advances. That will be going on stage by stage. Unfortunately, by reason of the nature of the problem, this is an expensive programme in relation to the number of people affected. Most of those affected are small populations in narrow valleys. The expense of reaching them in certain areas is very great indeed.

Both RTE and the Government are conscious of the problem and are making progress which is certainly not as fast as those affected would wish it to be, but seems to be about as fast as we can go in circumstances where finance is not readily available on a big scale. If there are particular areas the Senator is interested in, I can find some suitable time to give him an idea of how long RTE expect it to take to reach those areas.

Mr. Yeats: I would like to make a point on the third subparagraph of paragraph (a) which gives the Minister power to delete from the licence money handed back to RTE because of the complaints commission. I would have put down an amendment to delete this subparagraph but it would not have been in order. It seems a rather mean gesture to delete what will be, as the Minister has said, rather small sums. The sum involved is very minor compared with the total expenses of RTE. After all, the commission in every sense is not a creature [999] of RTE, it is not in any way part of RTE, and to such extent as it functions, it will tend to be, if not in opposition, at any rate, on a different course to RTE. It is keeping an eye on the Authority. It seems rather unfair, therefore, to ask the Authority to pay for the costs of the commission. Section 5 provides for the expenses of advisers, and those expenses have not been deducted in this way, nor is it provided in this Bill that their expenses should be deducted. Therefore, I would have thought that, for consistency sake, if nothing else, the Minister would have continued with the previous practice, which was that these independent bodies did not have their expenses taken out of the licence money. One could put up a much better argument by saying that the cost of the advisers should be paid by the Authority because they are there to advise RTE, they work in RTE and they help them to fulfil their functions. The commission on the other hand are to some extent in opposition to RTE. Because no money has ever been deducted to date for expenses, which were very small, I suggest the Minister drop this provision too.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I do not accept the Senator's comments. I do not accept basically that there is anything unfair about this. The functions of the complaints commission are, in the main, to provide a service to the licence fee payers, that service being to ensure that the service they are receiving is a properly balanced one and that machinery for the impartial consideration of complaints exists. I see nothing unfair in getting the licence fee payer to pay for that service, as he pays for other services. RTE have seen no objection to this. They pay, though on a more ad hoc basis, the expenses of the existing advisory committees. The amount involved here is quite small. For example, the cost of the existing complaints advisory committee has been estimated by RTE at about £250 during a recent 12 months. I do not think we need make too much out of that.

Question put and agreed to.

[1000] SECTION 10.

Question proposed: “That section 10 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Yeats: Could the Minister say what the present aggregate is? He is increasing it to £15 million. What is the present limit of repayable advances?

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Increasing from four to 15.

Question put and agreed to.


Question proposed: “That section 11 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Yeats: I take it this means that we are adding yet another to the alredy long list of semi-State companies which have power to borrow abroad. I take it it is intended that RTE will use this. Has the Minister any idea as to the extent to which this power will be used to borrow abroad by the RTE Authority?

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I do not think there is any immediate question of their borrowing abroad but the section provides the enabling power for them to do so. They would require the prior approval of the Minister and of the Minister for Finance, so I do not think there is any great problem there.

Mr. Yeats: There is no immediate intention?

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: That is my understanding.

Question put and agreed to.


Government amendment No. 69:

In page 9, between lines 18 and 19, before section 12 to insert the following new section:

“12. — The Principal Act is hereby amended by the insertion in section 15 of the following subsection after subsection (6):

`(6A) (a) In applying paragraph (c) of section 2 of the Perpetual [1001] Funds (Registration) Act, 1933, to a scheme under this section, that paragraph shall be construed as if “other than subparagraphs (b) and (c) of paragraph 6” were added thereto.

(b) Section 7 (3) of the Perpetual Funds (Registration) Act, 1933, shall in relation to a trustee of a scheme under this section be construed as if “other than subparagraphs (b) and (c) of paragraph 6” were inserted after “the Schedule to this Act” in paragraph (a).

(c) Section 12 (2) of the Perpetual Funds (Registration) Act, 1933, shall in relation to a trustee of a scheme under this section be construed and have effect as if “other than subparagraphs (b) and (c) of paragraph 6” were inserted after “the Schedule to this Act”.' ”.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: The RTE superannuation scheme is a perpetual fund registered under the Perpetual Funds (Registration) Act, 1933. The Schedule to this Act sets out the requirements of the Act as to the rules regulating perpetual funds. In particular, paragraph 6 of the schedule specifies that, when the trustees of the fund are authorised by the rules of the fund to invest capital moneys belonging to the fund by depositing such moneys with the employer or persons employed in the undertaking in connection with which the fund was established, such moneys shall not be deposited unless (a) the employer is a body corporate, (b) the undertaking has paid dividends of not less than 3 per cent on its ordinary stocks and shares in each of the past ten years, and (c) the deposit is secured by a charge on the whole or part of the assets of the undertaking.

Under the terms of the RTE superannuation scheme the trustees may make loans to the RTE Authority, provided the loans comply with paragraph 6 of the Schedule to the Perpetual Funds (Registration) Act, 1933, but, and this is the point, it is not possible for RTE to comply with [1002] paragraph 6. They do not declare a dividend on stocks and shares and the securing of a loan on the assets of the Authority could also cause problems. The proposed amendment would remove this legal difficulty but it would also remove the element of protection. It would also in itself remove the element of protection of the interests of RTE employees contained in these provisions of the Perpetual Funds (Registration) Act, 1933.

However, I wish to assure the House that any approved advance made at any time by the RTE superannuation fund to the RTE Authority will be secure both as to interest and repayment of capital so that in the interests of RTE employees it will continue to be fully protective.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 70 not moved.

Question proposed: “That section 12, as amended, stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Lenihan: The House is aware that the amendment which I had down on this section was moved with the other amendments to section 6 and taken accordingly. The section gives us an opportunity, having regard to what is proposed here in section 12 and in particular in section 12 (b), to reconsider the whole aspect of the Minister's approach to the second channel in the light of the very interesting document published yesterday by the RTE Authority.

One of the interesting facets of this whole debate—and it is in accordance with what the Minister himself proposed at the outset—is that the whole question is attracting very considerable and genuine discussion on what sort of second channel we should have and what sort of matter we should incorporate in it. In accordance with the Minister's desire to have free and open discussion, I thought it was interesting that through our debate here, thrown into the middle of it as it were, we have this considered report from the RTE Authority themselves which gives a new dimension to our whole debate here.

[1003] When one goes through the conclusions of the RTE Authority it is interesting to see how much on all fours those conclusions are with the recommendations of the advisory body which gave its report two years ago, and how much on all fours their recommendations are in general and in detail with the views put forward here by a number of Fianna Fáil Senators, all the University Senators and certain trade union Members of this House who belong to the Labour Party. A very valuable service has been performed by the Authority in making their considered views known to us at this stage because their considered views are, of course, very relevant to section 12 (b), which enables the Minister to rebroadcast a programme to which a direction given by the Minister under section 6 of the Broadcasting Authority (Amendment) Act, 1975, applies. That is in substitution for section 16 (2) (b) of the Principal Act which is on all fours with what Senator Yeats proposed by way of amendment to section 6.

The Principal Act, in my view rightly so, provides that without prejudice to the Authority's duty to establish a national television and sound broadcasting service, they are enabled “to provide by arrangements made for the purpose with the Minister and any other person, for the distribution by means of relaying, of programmes broadcast by the Authority”. In other words, the RTE Authority are enabled to provide by arrangements made with the Minister for the distribution of such other programmes which again, under the original Act, leaves the responsibility for the purposes of the alternative channel on the shoulders of the people charged with that responsibility.

The RTE Authority, the statutory authority, set up under statute, are empowered under section 16 (2) (b) of the Principal Act to perform this function and to make the necessary arrangements for the performance of this function with the Minister. That is still the law. That is the law the Minister now proposes to amend by [1004] substituting section 12 (b), that is, substituting of that democratic devolution of power on the Authority contained in section 16 of the present Act the draconian directive authority of the Minister as contained in section 6. To give effect to that under section 12 he introduces subsection (b).

At this stage it is worth going point by point through the summary of the case made by the Authority because it relates directly to what is proposed here in section 12 (b). I am sure the House and the Minister are well aware of what is contained in these conclusions, but it is no harm to emphasise the points again. They are pertinent at the moment. They caused considerable editorial comment particularly in yesterday's newspapers. They will provide material for an ongoing and constructive debate on this whole matter.

First of all they emphasise that rebroadcasting BBC 1 would provide a much more limited choice of programmes for single channel viewers than would a second RTE channel. They point out in the first conclusion that in practice RTE will be compelled to seek to compete with BBC 1 by scheduling similar programmes to the ones on BBC 1. Like programmes would be transmitted each day. This is the point made by Senator Martin on an earlier section.

An Cathaoirleach: Once the Senator indicates that he is now making an argument which was made on a previous section he is running the danger of running out of order.

Mr. Lenihan: I will confine myself to the topical recommendations of the RTE Authority as they relate to this section.

An Cathaoirleach: As they relate to this section.

Mr. Lenihan: The insertion of subsection (b) of section 12 instead of the flexible section 16, subsection (2) of the Principal Act means, in effect, that the RTE Authority are compelled to produce like for like programmes on a competitive basis with BBC 1. This is the first point made [1005] by the RTE Authority. Under section 16, subsection (b) of the Principal Act as it now stands, the rebroadcasting will be done by the Authority, through arrangements provided by the Authority in conjunction with the Minister.

Under the BBC 1 scheme as proposed by the Minister taking, as he does under this section, the power away from the Authority and giving blanket permission to the BBC to rebroadcast BBC 1, RTE will be compelled to seek to compete with BBC 1 in programme for programme. instead of the patently obvious, beneficial and sensible way of having two complementary programmes which would dovetail into each other.

An Cathaoirleach: The Chair is rather perturbed about the way in which the Senator is developing his argument on this section. The Chair quite appreciates that this section relates to section 6 in so far as section 6 empowers the Minister to direct, and section 12 makes it one of the duties of the Authority to comply. The Senator is talking in terms that the Authority had the freedom to act in this particular way. I am afraid he is going across the substance of amendment No. 58 to section 6 which was the subject of a decision by division earlier on Committee Stage. The question of the difference between direction by the Minister and authorisation by the Minister was the subject of a debate on Committee Stage and of a decision earlier on Committee Stage. It must be accepted that the principle of direction was accepted by the defeat of amendment No. 58 and the carrying of section 6. The Chair appreciates that there is a limited amount of scope on this section to discuss the question of the manner in which the Authority comply with the direction but one cannot return to discussing the principle of direction.

Mr. Lenihan: I accept the Chair's ruling. I wish to emphasise that there is a very real change in this section as against section 16 (2) (b). There is a change in the arrangements whereby the Minister and the Authority [1006] organise the alternative channel. In effect, that is the basic purpose of the section. The section begins: “The following is hereby substituted for paragraph (b) of section 16 (2) of the Principal Act”. We are discussing under paragraphs (BB) (b) and is a substitution for section 16 (2) (b) of the Principal Act. The Principal Act states that the Authority shall establish and maintain a national television and sound broadcasting service and shall have all such powers as are necessary for or incidental to that purpose.

Subsection (2) states:

In particular and without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) of this section, the Authority shall have the following powers:

(b) to provide, by arrangements made for the purpose of the Minister and any other person, for the distribution, by means of relaying, of programmes broadcast by the Authority.

That arrangement as it now stands is law. The arrangement sought under this section seeks to supersede it.

An Cathaoirleach: Might I make clear the Chair's position. There is a connection between the two sections. When a matter is dealt with twice in a Bill the House has its choice to debate it at one place or the other. This frequently occurs in debates when we have a section and a Schedule. The House has its choice to discuss it on the section or on the Schedule. It seems to me that since we had an extremely long debate on section 6— section 6 and the amendments to it occupied a day and a half of the proceedings of this House—this must be taken as having been a choice by the House that they were discussing these matters on section 6. I have said that it is open on the present section to discuss the technical arrangements which are made in the section for the implementation of section 6. Senators must avoid a repetition of the discussions on section 6 and its amendments. This would be out of order.

[1007] Mr. Lenihan: I would suggest to the Chair that in the interests of a topical debate in the Seanad which is always welcome, a new dimension has been given to our debate by the publication yesterday of the report from the Authority. It is directly in line with the section we are discussing.

An Cathaoirleach: The Chair appreciates this point, but the fact that since our discussion on section 6 the Authority have issued a statement on it does not justify the House on a later section discussing matters which would have been appropriate to section 6.

Mr. Lenihan: I will confine myself to one principle which was discussed in the earlier section. It was incorporated in the conclusions of the RTE Authority. It may involve some repetition.

An Cathaoirleach: Minor repetition and brief references would be allowed in order to connect what the Senator now wishes to say with what was said previously. A large-scale debate would be inappropriate.

Mr. Lenihan: I am grateful to the Chair. There seems to be an unanswerable argument to retain the present section and fulfil the Authority's wishes by having the principle of complementality involved in regard to the operations of channel 1 and channel 2. One cannot have that principle of complementality which is obviously envisaged in section 16 if one is automatically rebroadcasting BBC 1 running simultaneously with RTE 1, having the same type of programmes going out in competition with each other. A large proportion of BBC 1 can be relayed. This is my point which subsists under section 16 of the Principal Act. A large proportion of BBC 1 can be relayed on RTE 2 by an overall Authority that will ensure that the two programmes will dovetail together.

Under the section as it now stands, the conflict and the useless competition involved in running two Gay Byrne type shows at the same time would be avoided. That sort of futile attempt by two channels to run the [1008] same type of programme at the same time would be avoided by incorporating, as is envisaged by the present section, an overall RTE umbrella control of the two channels, thereby ensuring that a large proportion of BBC 1 would be incorporated in the second channel.

Therefore, it is not a case of BBC 1 versus RTE, if properly projected, and if honest argument and debate take place. We can have the two channels dovetailing together and so ensuring that people will have the maximum choice. The other system which the Minister now proposes to introduce under this section will produce the minimum and most restrictive choice, because people will be confined to two different channels running programmes of a similar nature at the same time. With an organisation of television and broadcasting under one umbrella, the two channels dovetail and complement each other and give the best in the way of balanced selection to the community.

That is the case in a nutshell. It is a totally honest case. I would ask the Minister from the intellectual and the consensus points of view to consider seriously between now and the end of next year what is suggested to him by the Authority. I ask him not to exercise the powers which he has under section 6 to authorise an automatic transmission of BBC 1. I appreciate that the Minister diminished his power in this respect by accepting an amendment from Senator Horgan the last day. At least the Minister has accepted some diminution of his power in that respect.

I would also urge him, between now and the end of next year, not to overburden himself with any assurance or statement he may have made in regard to BBC 1. I agree fully with the right of public men to change their minds. I am a total believer in the fact that situations change. We must be flexible in our approach to matters and affairs. If the Minister has made public statments over the past year or two years to the effect that he believed in rebroadcasting BBC 1 automatically on the second channel, which he has, I for one will not hold [1009] it against him if he decides after mature consideration to change his mind in that respect. In fact, I would applaud him enormously for doing so. The purpose of parliamentary exchange of views in a democracy is that a Minister may be convinced away from a stance he has taken by intelligent argument and debate. That is what this House is for.

I would ask for an assurance from the Minister—he has already given it — that he regards the exercise of his powers under section 6, and this related section, all of which are under the one umbrella, as not being necessarily confined to the automatic retransmission of BBC 1 and that he would regard the exercise of his powers as possibly containing under mature consideration the possibility of incorporating in a second channel a sort of complementary dovetailing system I suggest should be provided under the control of RTE and which would include a large percentage of BBC 1 and other material from other stations that would complement the channel run by RTE.

An Cathaoirleach: I would remind Senator Ferris of the restriction on the debate on this section.

Mr. Ferris: I appreciate that. It is difficult because there is quite a similarity between the two sections. Reference has been made to the press release and the case put up by RTE. I have no intention of quoting from it. I would like to ask the Minister to clarify my mind, because the more we debate the various sections, the more misconception there is in everybody's mind as to what we are trying to do here. I take it that this particular document and, indeed, the programmes they are running at the moment on RTE, are in keeping with the challenge laid on the doorstep of RTE to prove to us in the single-channel area that what they can produce will be better than BBC 1 or the rebroadcasting of any outside channel. I am pleased that RTE have availed of this opportunity, and that they have overcome whatever financial constraints are on them to present such a case.

[1010] As I read it, section 6 ensures that RTE have this option. If they can prove to us they have a better option than the rebroadcasting of a specific outside programme, section 6 does not preclude RTE from doing anything they propose in this document. The relativity to section 12 is to ensure that if the people in the single-channel area decide by a majority that they want something other than what RTE are proposing, the Minister has the power to ensure that RTE carry out his directive. He has committed himself in the directive to acknowledging what the majority of the people wish to have. My reading of section 12 is that it ensures that the voice of the people is listened to, that a directive can be given to ensure that it is heard and that section 6 which we have already agreed on and keep referring back to——

An Cathaoirleach: To the discomfiture of the Chair.

Mr. Ferris: I appreciate that. Section 6 does not question this document. We welcome it and let us hope that the people will make a decision on it. Section 12 ensures that the people's wishes will be carried out. I would like the Minister to confirm that.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: A Chathaoirleach, I have the fear of you before my eye as I approach this. I want first to refer very strictly to section 12 — there I know I am in no difficulty —but then I should like to reply briefly, and without going over the ground of section 6, to points made here relating to the recent statements and broadcasts of RTE.

An Cathaoirleach: The Minister need not fear the Chair so long as his reply is not more extensive than the original contributions.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: It will not be. Section 12 expands the functions of the RTE Authority. One phrase used by Senator Lenihan, inadvertently, I think, seemed to suggest that it contracted the functions of the Authority. It does not. It expands the functions [1011] while imposing a new duty on them. It expands the functions of the RTE Authority, as detailed in section 16 of the 1960 Act as amended by the 1966 Act to give the Authority power to rebroadcast the broadcasts of another broadcasting organisation if directed to do so under section 6 of this Bill. It also provides specific power for multi-channel cable television systems by RTE. This was inserted for the purpose of clarification of the functions of the Authority and so on.

When the Principal Act was being drafted it was not known that RTE would be relaying their programmes by cable in certain areas, and provision was made under which this could be done by either RTE, the Minister or some other person. The Bill now replaces this provision by two subsections, (1) providing power to rebroadcast programme services of other organisations, and (2), relaying of multi-channel piped TV programmes. There is a further point in paragraph (b) which states that the words “to rebroadcast a programme” should be brought into line with the amended wording of section 6, that is, “in its entirety a service of programmes”. Some Senators probably noticed that point. I propose to introduce an amendment accordingly for the Report Stage.

As regards the comments which Senators made on the recent statement by the RTE Authority, as I say, I will try to avoid going over all that ground again, but there are some points I should make in response to comments of Senators. Firstly, as regards Senator Lenihan's plea for consideration of the document and for an open mind as far as possible, I agree with what he says, with this proviso, however, that is to say, I shall consider not only the weight of the argument in the RTE document and in RTE statements but also the public reaction to these arguments, in particular among those who are most concerned about this issue, the population of the present single-channel area which includes Cork, Limerick, Galway and other centres. I propose to go to as [1012] many of these centres as I can. I hope other public representatives will go too and have meetings which will be open to all in these areas who are interested in this question so that we may begin to get the feel of the thing.

Certainly if the people of the single-channel area are convinced by RTE arguments, then I am convinced too. But they cannot convince me without convincing them. Even if I think this is a good idea in regard to the RTE submissions, I am not prepared to impose it on people who are directly concerned and who, having considered the arguments, do not think they carry sufficient weight with them. But I am not foreclosing this argument; It is possible that the case now being made for the kind of second channel for which Senators opposite have argued has not been made before. It is a pity it has not. It is now being made and I am certainly not going to predict in advance one conclusion or another out of that. We shall see.

Mr. Lenihan: I thank the Minister.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I have read the RTE document entitled The Second Channel. I have not had time to study the document in detail in the short time available. Consequently, all I can do at this stage is to give some initial reaction to it. Firstly, as regards the character of the second channel, the Authority deny that a second RTE channel would be a minority channel as has sometimes been suggested. That is an interesting point and I believe that single-channel area viewers will be interested in it.

However, by relying so heavily on the analogy of BBC 1 and BBC 2 they nevertheless leave the contrary impression, inasmuch as the existing RTE television channel currently plays the role of a competitive mainstream channel, a channel which was complementary to it in the manner they outline could I think be expected to look rather like BBC 2. Perhaps I am wrong. Many kind words have been said about BBC 2 during this debate, and I would agree with them. The cold statistical fact remains that [1013] BBC 2 is very much a minority channel with about 10 per cent of viewers. I would not pin myself to that figure but it is somewhere in that bracket.

Secondly, I should like to say a word or two about costs. RTE have at no time been a party to the negotiations which my Department have been conducting. Their estimates in the area of programme costs are purely speculative and are very much too high. I am constrained to refer to this because a great deal was made of this argument particularly in the televised broadcast on the subject of the second channel, and figures were produced, in particular about the licensing, which as far as are evident in this are both speculative and wide of the mark. I felt during questions in the Dáil about this that I had to make this point.

It has been suggested that this is in some way unfair of me in that I encouraged RTE to put their case before the people and then I piped up and said, “That bit is wrong.” I did not impose that on myself. I encouraged them to put their case but I did not put any corresponding gag-act on myself. I considered myself free to participate in this discussion and if I thought an argument put by them was wrong I had a right to say so, at the same time not limiting their power to put their own case for what they believe in. Like the Senators, I welcome the opening up of this debate and I hope it will not be a one-sided debate in either way, and I am sure the Senators feel the same way.

Their estimate of lost advertising revenue, too, which is the other main component of cost, appears to take little or no account of their competitive experience in Dublin in the past five years. Receipts from television advertisements increased from £2.8 million in the year ended March, 1970, to £3.8 million in the year ended March, 1974, despite the rapid and highly competitive developments in cable television during that period. That is to say, cable television carrying commercial networks from overseas did not affect their advertisement content.

[1014] Mr. Lenihan: What about inflation?

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Yes, that is a point, but that is £2.8 million to £3.8 million. At any rate it shows that they did not suffer. It is highly questionable in the light of this experience whether RTE would lose advertising revenue to the value of £2.25 million if BBC 1 was rebroadcast throughout the country. Moreover, BBC 1 does not contain advertisements. This would not apply to UTV, of course. The inference from the RTE statement is that advertising revenue of the order of £2.25 million would be transferred from broadcasting to other media, such as radio and the press, as a result of giving single-channel viewers access to BBC 1. This seems highly unlikely. However, I appreciate their right to put this argument.

Finally, I see that the 1975 cost of an RTE second channel in licence increase terms is estimated at £4.50 rising to £7.00 per licence in 1977 compared with the estimate of £4 to £5 at 1972 prices which RTE supplied to the broadcasting review committee. Here the Senator's point about inflation rather applies the other way round. This is in sharp contrast with the impact of inflation on their existing services, as evidenced by the fact that it was necessary to increase the licence fee by 100 per cent from £6 to £12 for a monochrome licence since 1972 not to mention the introduction of a colour licence at £15 which was increased to £20 towards the end of 1974. Moreover, RTE indicated recently that further increases in both the colour and monochrome licences will be necessary if they are not to have an operating deficit for the end of this year

I certainly would not attempt at this stage to make anything like a full answer to the well argued and interesting case which RTE have presented, but I would indicate considerable scepticism about the figures they are using. That scepticism is based on knowledge in relation to what they say about the cost of BBC and it is based also on a certain amount of experience in relation to RTE costings. [1015] I am not saying that RTE do not have a right to make these points but I am saying that those of us who cannot take them in their entirety have a right to say so.

An Cathaoirleach: The Chair has allowed a contribution from each side of the House and from the Minister which has gone beyond what properly might be allowed on this section, and to a certain extent the indulgence of the Chair in this matter is now exhausted. The ruling from now on will be more strictly in relation to section 12.

Mr. Yeats: I was just about to say when you intervened that there are just two points arising out of what the Minister said that I should like to refer to briefly. First of all, taking the last matter he dealt with, the question of the development of RTE advertising revenue over the past five years or so at a time when cable competition in the multi-channel area was developing, the Minister altogether exaggerated, and he has indeed been exaggerating all throughout this controversy, in these debates, the extent to which a really satisfactory reception of a number of channels is available in the eastern part of the country.

What the Minister refers to began in 1970 when really this thing had hardly developed, and even now only a quarter of the population of Dublin are linked to cable television. If one goes outside Dublin to rural areas, of course it falls away to almost nothing. Obviously in areas near the Border provided people have a good outside aerial they can get excellent reception of BBC, UTV and so on, but in the greater part of the so called multi-channel area we need have no doubt about it that the reception of the BBC and UTV is not anything like as good as reception of RTE 2 would be. Whether they broadcast BBC or something else is immaterial. The effect of this legislation and the Minister's direction would be that even in the multi-channel area the reception of BBC would be enormously improved. It would [1016] be somewhat better even than cable television, which I understand from time to time every few days or so is a little bit off. Certainly it would be a great deal better than the vast majority of viewers are able to get now who are not linked by cables. There are a few places — the Minister lives in one of them or near one of them — in Dublin where reception of BBC is satisfactory, but in the greater part of Dublin city and county, unless you are linked by cable, television reception of BBC is very poor indeed, far below what one could get if BBC were to be rebroadcast in the way suggested by the Minister.

I do not think these figures for advertising revenue and so on are really very relevant. The situation would change completely once you had perfect reception over the whole of this multi-channel area of the BBC, something which one does not have at the moment.

As Senator Lenihan said, when comparing 1970 with 1975 one has to bear in mind that the cost of living has gone up by 60 to 70 per cent since then and I presume advertising costs have gone the same way. On the Minister's figures it would appear that the actual volume of advertising may be even a little less than it was in 1970. In any event, in 1970 cable television had just begun. Even now only a quarter of the population of Dublin city are connected.

The only other point I wish to make arising out of the Minister's statement is that I do not think it is good enough for him to say that of course he will examine this document issued by RTE and he will satisfy himself whether the arguments are good but that he wants to warn us even if the arguments are good arguments that this will be immaterial from his point of view, if in fact a majority of people in the single-channel area say that they wish to have BBC. The Minister must be willing to accept that the ordinary man in the street, whether he belongs to a single-channel lobby or not, has no way of knowing the intricacies, the complexities of programming for television purposes. The ordinary man in the street, and I [1017] include the lobbyist, sits at home before the television set and he either likes what he gets or he does not like it, but as to how the programmes are put together, the problems involved in programming, he knows nothing at all. There is no reason why he should. Therefore, the Minister should pay special attention to the arguments put forward by those who do know about the problems of programming and in particular the problems which will be presented for programming by the proposals to have a BBC channel in direct competition in the way proposed by the Minister. I should like to quote a statement by Hew Weldon, Managing Director of BBC Television which is included in page 11 of the document issued to us by RTE, I quote:

Experience showed, however, and showed relentlessly, that once you started losing audiences, it was not only very difficult indeed to win them back, but extremely easy to lose more. We, therefore, went to great lengths to put a group of programmes on at the same time — popular comedy shows, in fact — Monday through Friday, and by so doing were eventually able, with popular competing against popular, to claim half the audience available at 7.30, and, in consequence (and it is this that matters), half the audience available for the range of programmes which followed during the evening. Gradually and ineluctably what was emerging was that given competition — a competition that was not of the BBC seeking — you are driven, in some degree, to fight like with like — film against film, current affairs against current affairs — Both BBC 1 and ITV had to adopt competitive policies if they were to remain in a 50-50 position — this process leads to a diminution of the spectrum or range of programme possibilities as a whole.

This is the kind of argument and experience, based in this case on the experience of the competition that arose between BBC 1 and Independent Television when it started, the Minister should have adopted, coming from people who know about the [1018] problems that will be presented of maintaining an adequate standard of programming.

It is not good enough to say, as he has said: “Perhaps the arguments put by RTE are good arguments but nonetheless I have to ignore these arguments if the ordinary ignorant man-in-the-street, ignorant in the sense that he does not know about the problems of putting on a television programme says differently. I have to have regard to what he says even though all the evidence is that from the point of view of putting on an adequate system of television programmes, this would be a disastrous thing to do.” He says: “Even so I must go ahead and give his head to the man-in-the-street who does not know anything about how to put television programmes on the air.” That is a very unwise attitude for the Minister to take.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Senator Yeats made some extremely interesting comments. I hope they will be widely read and studied. First of all as regards competition, he made a valid point when he said in effect the multi-channel area is not so multi-channel as all that. I think that is true. To present half the country as being able to get anything they want while the other half can only get one, as regards the so-called multi-channel area is an exaggeration. Therefore, the coming of rebroadcast BBC 1 would mean an element of increased competition for RTE also in the multi-channel area. The point is a valid one, though Senator Yeats did not refer to the point which is also relevant that whereas the kind of multi-channel competition which exists in Dublin is commercial and carries advertisements and therefore much more competitive in relation to RTE, what is proposed here is that if it is BBC 1 which we get it is noncommercial and the advertiser has no other television outlet so the competition may not be all that great.

There is another point, and I thank the Senator for bringing it forward. From the point of view of that not insignificant element of the people who should like to receive BBC 1, [1019] with all that that implies, for example, hours of viewing, children's programmes in the morning and so on, it makes the proposition not less but more attractive. It means that the so-called multi-channel viewer cannot always say that he has to pay a higher licence fee for the benefit of the fellow who lives in Cork or Galway. Many people in the multi-channel area would in that sense benefit because they would receive what they would consider benefits even though Senator Yeats does not agree. They do not have to agree with Senator Yeats any more than Senator Yeats has to agree with me.

Then Senator Yeats referred to my point that, even if I am impressed by RTE's arguments, I will not be governed by them unless these arguments, when heard and adequately discussed in the single channel area, have the effect of convincing the people there. Senator Yeats said the ordinary man has no way of knowing the intricacies of the problem and therefore we can disregard his view. The Senator referred to the ordinary ignorant man-in-the-street, possibly——

Mr. Yeats: In the strictly limited sense of being ignorant of the intricacies of programme planning.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: This argument, if pushed far — the Senator is pushing it remarkably far — strikes at the whole root of democracy which is based on the ordinary, ignorant man-in-the-street making up his mind on such extraordinarily complex topics as to whether it is good for the country to enter the European Economic Community. What does the ordinary, ignorant man-in-the-street know about the European Economic Community? He knows a damn sight more — if I may be excused the expression — about the television which comes into his own home or which he sees when he visits Dublin. He knows whether he likes that or not which is epistemologically much clearer than what he knows about the Common Market and other topics on which he decides.

Are we committed to democracy or not? On strictly conservative aristrocratic [1020] principles there is a case to be made for what the Senator has said. Unless the Government are people who really know what they are talking about and forget what these yokels, the ordinary ignorant men-in-the-street think, we are committed as democrats to taking into account the views and above all the preferences of those whom Senator Yeats calls the ordinary ignorant man-in-the-street: certainly Governments hold office by their decision and their preferences. So I do not withdraw what I have said. I am asking RTE to submit this matter to the judgment of the people, the ordinary viewers, and I am prepared to be governed by their decision.

Mr. Lenihan: I welcome this open debate on this matter. In my earlier remarks on the section I tried to put the question into perspective, having regard to the first conclusion reached by the Authority from which I quoted. I want to emphasise this point again because it has been put too simplistically as if this matter was a question of BBC 1 versus RTE. The first point made in the RTE submission yesterday was that there is no point in going into programme versus programme competition between BBC 1 and RTE. They emphasise this point through this document that what is envisaged in a second RTE channel is a complementary channel dovetailing with the other channel; that in doing this one can get the best, the most popular programmes from BBC 1 — what the man-in-the-street wants — and they can be incorporated into the second channel, so as not to compete in the wasteful programme sense with existing programmes on RTE 1.

An example which comes to mind. On Saturday nights — this is for the man-in-the-street — in TAM rating terms it is either the “Late Late Show” or “Match of the Day.” RTE running two channels could show the two programmes: we could have “Match of the Day” from BBC and Gay Byrne on the other channel. They would be two channels monitored and under the control of RTE, taking the popular programme from the BBC where necessary. The Authority would be enabled to cut out all the programmes on [1021] BBC 1 which are totally irrelevant to Irish circumstances if the complementary system was working.

This is the burden of what Senator Martin said on an earlier section, that many of the programmes which would have no interest for the Irish people could be deleted by RTE on the second channel. Matters which would be pertinent to the Irish view would not have to compete with programmes on the first channel. That is a reasonable case and I am glad that the Minister will have it considered between now and next year and have it debated. At least we have his assurance that he is not committed to bringing in automatic transmission of BBC 1.

At the same time, the Minister's assessment of the position is not enough, as Senator Yeats pointed out — to engage in what might be called a counting of heads according to the Minister's criteria. Short of having a referendum on the matter, in which everybody would be counted, it is very difficult for the Minister in making a considered decision on the matter between now and the end of next year to distinguish between lobbyists and the real feelings of people. It is very easy to whip up what is, apparently, public opinion in a particular area and with regard to a particular matter. It would be very easy to have a meeting at which people of one point of view would attend to hear the Minister and project their view as if that was the only one; the Minister is well aware of that.

There is a very real distinction between what really is public opinion and what appears to be public opinion. The cliché of the silent majority comes to mind. We saw that emphasised in the British referendum last week. How is the Minister to test the views of a committed silent majority which take into account considered views? Short of a referendum, the only person able to test the feeling of that silent majority is the Minister himself. This is a basic part of politics.

Our revered former President said it involved looking into one's own heart. When the chips are down, this is what a Minister must do. He should, [1022] with his own political antenna be the best judge of what should be done. It is not simply on the criterion of succumbing to a noisy lobby. That is not what is involved. If this debate rolls — and already it is rolling in the direction of an RTE-controlled second channel, involving and incorporating a large percentage of BBC material — I would hope that the Minister will look at it sensibly, exercise his discretion and make his decision accordingly.

There is one other aspect in the summary of the conclusions reached by the Authority to which I should like to refer. And perhaps, Senators will forgive me for pleading some form of self-justification. The Minister did tend to reject my thesis on an earlier debate that no other country in the world — and I said “no other country in the world” — automatically rebroadcasted in toto the station or services of another country. It appeared to the Minister that that was a very global statement. I said it specifically because I had looked into the matter and I find it reiterated here in conclusion 6, page 20 of the report and I quote:

No other country in the world has concluded that a second television service in that country should take the form of the rebroadcast in toto of one of the services of a neighbouring country.

I heard remarks like “nonsense”, that I was talking through my hat. There was a minor uproar here when I made almost in the same words— and I had not had a preview of this document — that particular statement. It is a fundamental fact. I would emphasise in particular the phrase “in toto”. Is not carte blanche to the BBC 1 to come in in toto and on an automatic basis a very serious step to take from the point of view of our sovereign control of our airways by our national television Authority? The sensible approach is to utilise a high percentage of suitable BBC material but let the ultimate control lie in regard to the ordering of the alternative programmes in the second channel, with the body appointed [1023] under legislation by the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Mr. Russell: This debate has taken a very good turn which I am sure the Minister appreciates. The basic fact, in all the discussion which has taken place so far, is the query which has been put forward from time to time and answered by some: what does the man in the street want? Senator Lenihan gave me the impression that he knew what the man in the street wanted. I do not make such an ambitious claim. I happen to be one of the men in a street who does not enjoy any alternative to RTE. What the man in the street wants, certainly in the disadvantaged areas is an alternative to RTE. The man in the street is a normal, intelligent individual. He is just as patriotic as some of the patriots we have listened to on the other side of the House, particularly on another Bill in recent weeks. He would not like to contribute to doing anything that would destroy RTE, a national broadcasting Authority. His dearest desire obviously is one which is most often expressed — and I speak from knowledge of meetings at which people have expressed their views — that he wants to be able to decide when he puts on his television set that he can have an alternative to RTE. In doing so he would not wish that a broadcast of BBC 1 or UTV or any other station by competing against RTE would put RTE virtually out of business. Reading very briefly this RTE Authority document — incidentally, it is a very interesting and well thought-out document, and I must congratulate its compilers— on page 14 what they assume to be the very serious results from broadcasts of BBC 1, one's first thoughts immediately would be to have nothing to do with it, to stop any effort by the Minister to direct RTE, or the second channel, to broadcast any station other than RTE 2. In practical terms, I do not think that is on. Until it is satisfied one will have this demand from the disadvantaged areas for some alternative.

Senator Lenihan made the case that in our small county, where there are [1024] two channels they should be complementary, not competing. But in the advantaged area at the present there is the situation where there is competition to RTE. I am not aware — and I speak in ignorance of the situation because I do not live on the east coast — it has put RTE virtually out of business, that the fact that half the population are getting several choices has had the result of putting RTE half out of business; and that therefore, if the other half of the country gets, not the same but better facilities than they have at present, RTE will suffer to the degree suggested in page 14 of this press release.

I do not believe they will. To my mind the solution would be some authority, say, outside of RTE, not controlled by RTE. I should like to see a consortium, if such could be got together, of Irish interests that would run another station, to some degree complementary, but giving competition to RTE. I understand that is not on now. The Minister has given a clear indication that he does not intend by the Bill that automatically when the facilities are available he will direct immediately the second channel to broadcast BBC 1. I think he is keeping an open mind on it. As he has quite rightly said, on a number of occasions — and I think the point is not lost — in the final analysis it is our man in the street who will decide what he wants in the ultimate.

The question of a referendum has been mentioned. If I am not misquoting I think the Minister said in the Dáil that if it could be done he would favour a referendum. I suppose he means a referendum in the disadvantaged areas. I am not so sure I would, for the simple reason that the UK had a referendum and they had 51 per cent of the population deciding they wanted such and such a thing. Does that mean the other 49 per cent would have no rights at all? This has to be played by ear. It is not going to be decided immediately the second channel becomes available. It is going to take a little time because the man in the street who wants now, above all else, an alternative, may find ultimately that his first desire has not been satisfied by this pent-up desire. He [1025] might say: After all, RTE is the national station; it is giving a good service. I have personally expressed the view over the years — on the odd times that I have seen the other alternatives — that I think that RTE, on balance, is a better station. Perhaps my choice is not as exotic as the more sophisticated viewers on the east coast. But I think RTE are doing a very good job and have done over the past 15 years, and will continue to do so.

We have got to give our man in the street in the disadvantaged area a choice. I believe the Minister is keeping an open mind on what that choice should be at present. At the moment BBC 1 seems to be the favourite. I am not so sure that, ultimately, it will turn out to be that wonderful in answer to the desires of our man in the street. I love the feeling that perhaps in the long term it may not be. I would like more emphasis on local programmes, involving local communities, in the whole system of broadcasting, both visual and oral. In that connection, we are disadvantaged, as are other areas in the west and south-west, by the fact that we do not have the same local facilities as they have, say, in Cork.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: The Senator is straying somewhat from section 12.

Mr. Russell: I do not want to talk too widely on the section but it has been a fairly general debate up to now and this is a very important section. I have made the point I wanted to make anyway. It is that basically our man in the street must in the final analysis be the judge of what he wants. In the ultimate he may be a bit disappointed with BBC 1 or UTV or whatever it happens to be. For that reason I should like to join with Senator Lenihan in ensuring that the Minister keeps his ears and eyes open in regard to what our friend in the street wants. I would even suggest to the Minister that it would not be a bad idea to have some from of advisory council to advise separately on what the second channel should broadcast. Perhaps it is a wild idea, [1026] but it is something that would involve people from a wider field than politics. The Minister is a political figure — I think at an earlier stage he was accused in rather strong terms of being one. But he represents the people and the Government elected by the people and in the final analysis he will have to say what channel No. 2 is going to broadcast.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I speak nervously, with the Chair behind me, because I do not know how far we are supposed to go into all this. I said at the beginning — I do not think the Cathaoirleach was in the Chair at the time — that I did not propose to make an extended reply to the RTE document, but I thought it might be appropriate to comment briefly on aspects raised. First of all, Senator Lenihan made one point I think is valid and Senator Russell made, curiously enough, the same point in another way. Senator Lenihan suggested that the Minister should use his political antennae in this matter. I intend to use my political antennae and to wiggle the said antennae throughout many parts of the country, including the single-channel area centres, and, as Senator Russell advises, keep my ears open. I do not think there is any mechanical way of finding out decisively what people think. We are politicians and we are in a position to make a fairly good assessment when we have visited various centres and I propose to do that. As reported in the paper this morning, I do not know whether correctly or not, the Mayor of Limerick suggested a public meeting there where public representatives and others interested could attend and one would have a chance of finding out the opinion of people in Limerick. I would certainly be prepared to go to a meeting presided over by the Mayor of Limerick and would think that a very suitable exercise.

Senator Lenihan says people can whip up public opinion. Perhaps they can. But that is, after all, open to both sides in a discussion like this. The Fianna Fáil Party have a great organisation throughout the country, if they are strongly convinced that RTE 2 is the right answer and rebroadcasting [1027] BBC 2 the wrong answer. They have an organisation to influence public opinion in the way they think wise, and I am sure they will use that opportunity in the months ahead. It is entirely right that they should. That is one element which will go into public opinion and will ensure that we have a balanced view in that matter.

Again, I do not want to say much about this, because we are a little bit far out from section 12 and I have made the points specifically on section 12 that I intended to make. Senator Lenihan, very understandably, quoted paragraph 6 on page 20 of the Authority's Press release on the second channel which says:

No other country in the world has concluded that a second television service in that country should take the form of a rebroadcast in toto of one of the services in a neighbouring country.

He quite understandably takes that to be in contradiction of what I said here when I said that Italy is now committed to rebroadcast in toto a service of a neighbouring country. The key to the misunderstanding are the words “a second television service”. Italy has already two television services and this will be a third.

Mr. Yeats: Dealing with that last point, I raised this very matter on section 6. I pointed out to the Minister the basic distinction between Italy and what the Minister proposes here. In Italy it is not a case of handing over one of the national television channels to this foreign station. It is an addition in limited areas, but it is not at all a matter of taking one of the potential Italian channels and giving it over to anybody else. That is, I think, the fundamental distinction at this stage — that we have the possibility of a second Irish channel and instead of being used by an Irish broadcasting organisation it is to be handed over to this outside concern. The only other point I wish to make is to return very briefly to the question of public opinion. I would not like the Minister to gain the impression or indeed to convey the impression that [1028] I adopt a kind of an elitist attitude more or less on the basis that people should be given what is good for them irrespective of whether they want it or not. I would not like anyone to think that.

Speaking as a member of the ordinary ignorant public, ignorant in the television sense of the word, I look at RTE and there are times undoubtedly when I see some particular film which I think is perfectly ghastly and if I could only summon more energy I would write to them and complain. I have never yet done so. The day may come when I will. I reserve the right otherwise, as everybody does, to complain bitterly about the programmes one sees; but nonetheless I do not feel myself competent to unravel the intricacies of process which led to these programmes being produced. I have no way of knowing whether the film is a ghastly film because the only other ones available were even worse. I have no way of knowing why a particular type of programme was put on at a particular hour rather than at another hour.

These are matters which are decided by experts and I am not sure that the ordinary man in the street with the best will in the world is able to assess these matters. In particular I am not at all sure that the ordinary man in the street with the best will in the world would be able to assess the implications for years ahead on RTE of the Minister's proposals.

The Minister has referred to the referendum. The referendum was on joining the EEC. It was a special case and naturally the people had to be consulted because it is required to change the Constitution. It was a special incident. It was an incident from which the Minister might learn with advantage to himself and indeed to all of us. Not merely Ministers but other politicians, of whom the Minister himself at that time was one, all of us had to make up our minds on the arguments as to what would be the best thing for the country — to join the EEC or not. Having assessed the arguments and adopted an attitude on the arguments everybody went round urging the people to [1029] adopt these arguments, either for joining it or against joining it.

I would put it to the Minister that, on his own analogy, he should consider this document and any other documents that may issue from RTE with the greatest care. If, as it suggets, he might be convinced that these arguments are good ones, then surely he has a public duty to go to Limerick and other places like that and put it to the people that they ought not to take the BBC but for good and sufficient reasons they should come out in favour of some kind of an Irish second channel, whatever particular form it might take. He has not done this and, while he says he may never use the powers given to him in section 6, I cannot remember reading any speech made by the Minister which in any way criticises the concept of bringing in BBC 1. Sometimes the Minister says he will just leave it to the people but much more often he tends to push this concept. He has not at any stage, to my knowledge, said anything in favour of the concept of having a second Irish channel.

I would put to him therefore that he should assess these arguments and if he is convinced that the arguments are good ones then he should certainly go out and campaign vigorously, as vigorously as he is well able to campaign, to urge the people that that is what they ought to go for.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I should like to answer that one immediately in this way. It is a valid point. If I am convinced of the arguments, I will say so. If I am convinced by any particular aspect of the arguments, I will also say so. At this stage, I must say that, although I have an open mind in relation to the document, the weight of the argument hitherto has appeared to me to point in the direction of rebroadcasting rather than in the other direction. But, as Senator Lenihan says, people should be prepared to change their minds if they find arguments convincing. If I am convinced I will say so.

Question put and agreed to.

[1030] SECTION 13.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Amendments Nos. 71 to 78 may be discussed together.

Mr. Yeats: I move amendment No. 71:

In page 9 to delete lines 31 to 52 and substitute:

“17. (1) In performing its functions the Authority shall in its programming be mindful of the need for safeguarding, enriching and strengthening the cultural, social and economic fabric of Ireland.

(2) The Authority shall aim to provide a broadcasting service that is essentially Irish in content and character and which in particular encourages and fosters the Irish language.

(3) The Authority shall be responsive to the interests of the whole community, and be mindful of the need for understanding and peace within the whole island of Ireland.

(4) This service should —

(i) be a balanced service of information, enlightenment and entertainment for people of different ages, interests and tastes covering the whole range of programming in fair proportion,

(ii) be in Irish and in English, with appropriate provision for other languages,

(iii) uphold the values enshrined in the Constitution,

(iv) actively contribute to the flow and exchange of information, entertainment and culture within Ireland, and between Ireland and other countries, especially her partners in the European Economic Community,

(v) provide for a continuing expression of Irish identity, and

(vi) be made available so far as practicable to the people of the whole island of Ireland”.

The greater part of the wording of this amendment emanates not from my head but from the recommendations of the broadcasting review committee. Indeed [1031] this is the source from which much of the Minister's own section 13 derived. My objection, voiced on Second Stage, was that in transcribing the recommendations of the broadcasting review committee, the Minister to some considerable extent turned them on their head. They emerge in the Minister's version of section 13 in quite a different form.

I shall go through the various subsections and paragraphs of my amendment and as I continue, explain what I mean. Paragraph (1), is without change, from the recommendations of the broadcasting review committee, except that, in transcribing it, I omitted two words, in error in the last line, where it says: “strengthening the cultural... of Ireland”. The review committee said of the “whole of Ireland” and I had intended inserting those words.

Mr. Alexis FitzGerald: Could the Senator help me by saying where this appears.

Mr. Yeats: I am using my speech on Second Reading, but I did refer to the page, page 20. Their paragraph is the same as mine except that they put in the “whole of Ireland” which I had intended introducing.

If the Minister accepts this amendment I hope that, either now or on Report Stage, it would be possible to insert the words omitted. This is in conformity with the Minister's obvious desire, in his section 13, to refer constantly to the “whole island of Ireland.” I do not think there is anything to which anybody could reasonably object in this paragraph.

The second paragraph also comes unchanged from the proposals of the broadcasting review body:

The Authority shall aim to provide a broadcasting service that is essentially Irish in content and character and which in particular encourages and fosters the Irish language.

The Minister also referred to the Irish language but in a manner which dilutes very much the concept set out in these recommendations of the broadcasting [1032] review committee. In the Minister's paragraph (a), line 40 onwards, it is said:

...that the programmes reflect the varied elements which make up the culture of the people of the whole island of Ireland, and have special regard for the elements which distinguish that culture and in particular for the Irish language.

That is a weak from of words. I would much prefer, and I hope the Minister on reconsideration will also much prefer the version of the broadcasting review committee that the programmes should be essentially Irish in content and character and, in particular, encourage and foster the Irish language. When they talk about the broadcasting system being essentially Irish in content and character, we would envisage that that is not merely Irish, in the sense of Republican Irish, but that Irish would include all the elements in the country, North and South. It would include Unionist as well as Nationalist, Protestant as well as Catholic. It is an all-embracing term which would cover every aspect of Irish culture.

My paragraph (iii) was not in the broadcasting review committee's proposals but comes from the Minister's section 13. I take it we can all agree on that. Incidentally, my reference to the programmes being essentially Irish in content and character refers to the whole island of Ireland, which should be particularly obvious, in view of the fact that both the paragraph preceding and succeeding it would be referring to the whole island of Ireland. Under such circumstances it is quite obvious that having the programmes essentially Irish in content and character would be on an all-Ireland basis.

My paragraph 4 is comprised of six different paragraphs, the majority of which emanate from the recommendations of the broadcasting review committee. The first is fairly obvious. It does not appear in the Minister's version but it is no harm to have it in. I do not think it contains anything with which any of us would disagree. Subparagraph (ii) comes from the broadcasting review committee:

[1033] be in Irish and in English with appropriate provision for other languages.

Again, that seems to be a factual statement that we do not really need to quarrel about.

Subparagraph (iii) is the Minister's version except that I have deleted the word “democratic”. The Minister wanted to uphold the democratic values enshrined in the Constitution, whereas I say: “the values enshrined in the Constitution”. On the whole, I would be inclined to the view that there are values in the Constitution other than the strictly political, democratic values which are worth stressing. I would not quarrel over this. If the Minister insisted on keeping the word “democratic” I would not quarrel with him.

Subparagraph (iv) is essentially the Minister's version, his paragraph (c). I put it down in the wording as emanated from the broadcasting review committee which I do not think conflicts with the Minister's paragraph.

Subparagraph (v) states:

provide for a continuing expression of Irish identity...

That is not in the Minister's version, but is no harm to stress that, particularly in the likelihood that more than half the Irish television services would be BBC 1. Because we would have one Irish programme it is no harm to stress the Irishness of this programme and (v) — “provide for a continuing expression of Irish identity” is a valuable addition.

Subparagraph (vi) I inserted myself. It should appeal to the Minister. That programmes should:

be made available so far as practicable to the people of the whole island of Ireland.

The Minister when he began his campaign to introduce BBC1 did so on the basis that there would be open broadcasting North and South; that we would broadcast RTE in the North of Ireland and they would broadcast BBC or UTV here. Initially, I think he thought of all English or Northern Ireland channels being broadcast. The [1034] introduction of the words “so far as practicable” in effect mean that nothing initially need be done.

It is valuable to put this down as an expression of our continued interest in the concept of open Irish broadcasting, the concept of broadcasting RTE throughout the whole island, including Northern Ireland. The Minister would agree that it would be quite practicable to put a transmitter on the top of the mountains near Carlingford which, I am told, would have a straight run into Belfast and that one could pick up RTE in Belfast without having a very elaborate outside aerial. It is possible and should be borne in mind.

The introduction of the words “so far as practicable” mean that there is no obligation on the RTE Authority to do anything about it at present. At least, it means that the matter is under consideration. That is the only addition that I have made to the proposals of the broadcasting review committee and they would fit in with what is apparently in the Minister's mind.

The general effect of this amendment is that, while preserving everything that the Minister has asked for in section 13, nonetheless it brings in other concepts proposed by the broadcasting review committee. In particular, it stresses in a way the Minister does not stress the Irish nature of the channel. It speaks about fostering the Irish language instead of merely having regard to its existence and so on. It stresses very much more the Irish nature of the programmes. From this point of view it is far more appropriate, particularly so in the light of the likelihood that we would have half our programmes coming from England.

Business suspended at 12.30 p.m. and resumed at 2 p.m.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I thought there would be others offering, but if they are not at this stage I should like to say something.

As Senator Yeats said there is not a large gap between the version I propose and what he suggests. They both derive to a considerable extent from the work of the broadcasting review committee and both accept quite an amount of the wording of that. At the [1035] same time there is a difference in emphasis which I would like to put this way: Senator Yeats' amendment puts more emphasis on the concept of Irish identity and less emphasis on the cultural variety that exists in Ireland. I consider the latter emphasis the more realistic because when we use phrases like “essentially Irish”, and “Irish identity”, we are in some danger of setting up a graven image which we would be hard put to define. For example, Senator Yeats said, and I would agree with him, that what he has in mind is the whole people of Ireland, including, of course, 1 million Ulster Protestants whose allegiance and outlook are in significant ways different from the remaining inhabitants of the island. We are not talking about the population of the Republic, we are not talking about just one element in the country, we are talking about all the people of Ireland. I take it that is what Senator Yeats means.

What exactly is the identity shared here? What do we mean by “Irish identity” in this context and what do those concerned mean by the expression? Putting it in programme terms, supposing we ask RTE to put on a programme about, say, Mr. William Craig and Bishop Lucey of Cork establishing the Irish identity which they share, and allowing them both to participate in that and to speak, I think the identity that would come through would be a rather attenuated one, so attenuated that it would be difficult to use it as a central axis around which programming was supposed to turn. We have to ask such questions as, what do Ulster Loyalists and Southern Nationalists have in common that they do not have in common with other people, such as Scots, Welsh, English, Canadians and Americans? It is not the easiest question in the world to answer. I would like Senators to turn it over in their minds. It is because I have had in mind the reality of life in all Ireland, with the divisions which are not mainly territorial divisions of the Border, that I have framed this wording which allows for the element of variety. I think that is more realistic.

We would hope that in time the [1036] divergencies would shrink and the identity would emerge as something with more substance that I can see it possessing at this moment. I do not want to set up idols. I do not want to pay lip service. I do not want to try to constrain people in RTE to be bound by a concept of identity which I would find it hard to define for them.

That said, let me say about this whole group of amendments that whereas I am inclined to think at this stage my wording preferable, more workable and more realistic than what is involved in most of the amendments, I am certainly prepared to consider the arguments advanced here, and between this and the Report Stage to look again at my wording and see whether it can be improved in the light of comments made here. I look forward to a discussion on this, but at this stage I cannot accept amendment No. 71.

I am of the view, and the RTE Authority are of the same view because I have consulted them about this wording, that legislative provisions in regard to the functions and responsibilities of the authority should be as specific as possible and be realiseable in programme terms. As I say, I have discussed the amendment as it now stands with RTE and they agree generally with it.

Mr. Alexis FitzGerald: I very much regret that I have to make this contribution as I do without having heard the Minister speak fully on this. That is entirely my fault. Firstly, I have not contributed to this debate but it seems to be open to me to say that because I did not contribute to it, it is exactly the kind of debate we ought to have on a Bill like this, and everybody can try to discover what is the best thing to do. Secondly, having been in Senator Yeats' position before —and only Senators will understand what I mean when I say and hoping to be in this position again—I appreciate the serious effort involved for Senator Yeats in doing this job which, I imagine the Minister will agree, has the merit of directing our attention to the kind of issues which arise here. There was one very distinguished lawyer, Senator Yeats may be comforted [1037] by the thought, who said when he put in an amendment that he was not the parliamentary draftsman and he was not paid to be parliamentary draftsman. He thought he was doing his job if he directed attention to the issues which arise. For me, at any rate, and the issues which arise here, my attention has been focussed on them by this language.

When I came in the Minister was just drawing attention to the difficulty of reconciling Bishop Lucey with William Craig and finding out what it was they had in common. You could say they could be termed Irishmen in the fullest sense of the word. That would represent some identification of their positions. The difficulties in that seem very real. My own evalution of this question of identity is this. I have two candid points on this. One is a general sociological, psychological one. It is that we must think about this new technology, which is providing expected amenity for modern people, and make judgments about it long before we know its full effects on people. Certain words are used nowadays very often. I do not know whether other Senators react as I do, but when you see certain words turning up every other Tuesday you tend to throw them out the window. Yet you may be throwing out some valuable piece of furniture if you do. There is the concept of alienation to which, as I said on Second Stage of this debate, Marx drew attention, but drew attention at a time when material progress had not reached the point where the possibility of exploitation for profit purpose of free time had arisen. In relation to our own future in this community, viewing it as this island or viewing it as this State, we have got to ask ourselves the question whether if we fail positively to set forth the things that we judge are valuable and positively discover what there has been in our historical experience, whether it be in the Lucey tradition or in the Craig tradition, what there has been in either of these traditions—incidentally at this point I do not know whether we are dealing with amendment No. 71.

[1038] An Cathaoirleach: In this debate we are dealing with amendments Nos. 71 to 78.

Mr. Alexis FitzGerald: There is language in Senator Mullen's amendment which may meet some of the points which might be made against Senator Yeats' particular language. In Senator Mullen's amendment the duty is to recognise “the diversity of those elements which combine to establish an Irish identity.” There may be something there which may be helpful to us in a final solution to this. But I feel, in terms of the happiness of the Irish people, that we ought to encourage them with a sense of the value of the historic achievements of those communities to which they belong.

We all know, and it is our business as politicians to pay particular heed to it, that some people have been drawing attention to what has not been valuable, what has been distorting of truth, damaging to life and restrictive of opportunity. It is our duty continuously to expose that and, so far as we can, continuously to try to get rid of it. But there have been positive elements. Take, for example, a great race like the Jews. I have always thought that the sense of being a member of a race that has survived so much historic onslaughts must be a terrific psychological support. I sense it, I must say, in Jewish friends of mine; the sense of being the chosen people and so on. Then you have to secularise all that and see how noble have been their actions in general and how marvellous has been their contribution to knowledge, the arts and so on. I feel that the sense of being one of that people has been a great help to the members of that community in surviving and preserving what was good in that tradition.

It seems to me to be useful if this new Authority had as one of its duties to not merely uphold the values enshrined in the Constitution but to take a very much larger view of what has been a mark of the Irish race through the centuries, what has been good about being an Irishman, what [1039] particular values have we carried, what particular values would not be there in the strenght they are there now were it not for the Irish. This involves this whole question of missionary activity and so on. In that sense, therefore, I like the idea of the community being asked to carry the duty of recognising, to use Senator Mullen's language “the diversity of the elements which combine to establish an Irish identity.”

But I see the Minister's difficulty. First of all, he does not want to put a vague kind of duty on the Authority, which in certain circumstances could be cumbersome to them in their operations. He also does not want to stand behind something which seems to be not true. He questions the existence of an Irish identity. But there may be Irish identities. There may be a diversity of elements. There may be communities; but everyone of us, whichever community we are in, have a right to be proud of the various values being maintained and upheld by it. In that sense therefore I welcome Senator Yeats' amendment for directing our attention to this aspect of the Authority's functions and general duties.

With regard to other points which are there I myself liked the, again taken from the Authority, the first part of, I do not know what the Minister's mind as expressed on that one may be but I welcome it from the very unpopular point of view which I understand. I will now deal with the words Senator Horgan has used, which I may throw out the window, whatever truth may be behind it. I am referring to the élitist thing. I do not know what we mean by élitism in this sense. The Minister in his reply talked about The Sunday World and Shakespeare. I am all for shoving in Shakespeare and shoving out The Sunday World. That happens to be my position. If that is so, all right; you do not expect me to stand up in the Seanad and say other than that, if that is what I think.

I have great difficulty—perhaps the Minister will help me in clarifying my mind on this matter—in understanding [1040] the justification here. It is all a question of getting a formulation which will satisfy us as to what is the justification for being involved in what Senator Yeats, the broadcasting review committee and everybody else seems to agree on: providing a balanced service, information, enlightenment and entertainment. Is this something like the plumbing system or the electric light? I think — this happens to be my position and it is too bad if people do not like it—that there are good things and bad things, good things like Shakespeare and bad things like The Sunday World.

Mr. Mullen: You will be mentioned in that paper.

Mr. Alexis FitzGerald: Maybe they will get benefit from my language if they have the energy, but today being Wednesday it is hardly likely that The Sunday World will have any space for me at this stage.

Mr. Horgan: You are not “The Senator” by any chance?

Mr. Alexis FitzGerald: No, I am not “The Senator”.

In one's use of the words “open broadcasting ” I am in complete agreement with the Minister in the sense of letting us open our society to all the ideas freely expressed about foreign affairs and so on. There are other things which can come in through those open windows. I will quote from something which I happened to be reading when I should have been listening here today. This is—respecting the Chair's desire that my biography should be fully and adequately documented— from Index on Censorship, page 14, refferring to a general questionnaire they sent out about whether a cultural boycott of South Africa is a good thing or not. In the opening comment it says:

Back in the 1950s two men expressed their views about cultural boycott. Moses Kotane writing in New Age felt such a boycott would not prevent the purveyors of cheap and nasty commercial culture from circulating in South Africa but it would mean that those who could [1041] bring something noble and elevating would be withdrawn.

Let us rescind from the whole issue arrived at in that quotation which I do not know about. There are, in my view, purveyors of cheap and nasty commercial culture. There are people whose views bring out something noble and elevating. I should like to think that the Authority's duty was to make a choice in favour of noble and elevating thoughts and against purveyors of cheap and nasty commercial culture.

If that view puts me in an élitist position, then that is the position I am in. It is a comment relating to a recommendation to the Minister that it might be good to formulate the obligation to balance the service of information, enlightenment and entertainment. Otherwise, what is there to prevent the Authority feeling obliged to give all the people of Cork, Galway, Limerick and everywhere else all the entertainment they are howling for? I know this is a thoroughly unpopular opinion, but I wanted to make the point.

In regard to item 2 of Senator Yeats's amendment — that the service should be essentially Irish in content — I would prefer Senator Mullen's language if we are talking about Irish in that sense, because we would have to define it in such a way that it would not exclude anything relating to the “values and traditions of other countries” contained in paragraph (c) of this section it is proposed to amend.

There is one small point to end my short contribution and to which I wish to draw the Minister's attention. When I spoke on the Second Reading I said I was at first in some doubt about whether I would favour the language contained in the Bill — that is, the democratic values enshrined in the Constitution — or whether one should not take account of all those other things. I now think it should take into account the values. It is in matters like these that I am helpful to the Seanad. I wanted to direct the Minister's attention to this point which should at least be considered. There is not a great deal of danger in it, but if the Minister looks at the [1042] Constitution there is an Article setting out directive principles on social policy. Article 45 of the Preamble reads:

... The application of those principles in the making of laws shall be the care of the Oireachtas exclusively, and shall not be cognisable by any Court under any of the provisions of this Constitution.

I should like to express the view, for the Minister's and his advisers' consideration, that if we import the values of the Constitution into the language of this section, we would also be importing the values in Article 45, notwithstanding the statement that they are not to be “cognisable by any Court under any of the provisions of this Constitution.” We will be importing into this Bill values gathered from all parts of the Constitution. It will not be under a provision of the Constitution; it will be under the provision of a Bill enacted by the Parliament. It might be worth the Minister's while to see whether that would create any problems for the Authority. I am sure he will be glad to know that he will be casting on the Authority the burden of seeing that under Article 3.1º, which reads:

The State shall favour and, where necessary, supplement private initiative in industry and commerce.

That is a value in the Constitution. Maybe the Minister wants the Authority to have this duty, but it would be an interesting question if somebody started mandamus proceedings against the Authority, that they were not giving enough encouragement to the people to support private initiative and industry.

There are other principles bearing on women and their ability to go to work and so on and the recognition of their unsuitability by sex to certain allocations. That is also in Article 45 4.2º.

Mr. Horgan: The most important amendment in my name is No. 73 which reads:

In page 9, lines 44 and 45, to [1043] delete all words after “uphold” to the end of the paragraph and substitute “democratic values, especially those relating to freedom of expression, and”.

I make no apologies for introducing this amendment as somebody who comes from, but not necessarily speaks for, a lobby in this matter. I am a professional newspaper man who has been involved in the media for all my working life. It seems very important that if we are going to insert specific things into legislation of this kind, then we should, all the more so if it is a piece of legislation about the media, write in something which is directly related to the media and to their problems. The phraseology I have chosen is close to that employed in the Constitution. I would be quite happy to see it redrafted to include the actual wording of the Constitution. I am heartened, to some extent, by the Minister's statement that he will look at the matter again between now and Report Stage.

I was interested in what Senator Alexis FitzGerald said about Senator Yeats' amendment. I should like to enlighten him about my personal definition of élitism. This is in relation to the suggestion in Senator Yeats' amendment that the service should be a balanced one. There are two kinds of élitism. One is the unashamed élitism which is professed so charmingly by Senator FitzGerald in which he is more or less saying that he would not be at all unhappy with a diet of compulsory Shakespeare and the total excoriation of various Sunday newspapers. The other form of élitism which is equally real, is for somebody who lives in the multichannel area, where all the élite choices are available to him if he owns a television set, is to say, as it tends to be said, that people in the single-channel area shall have an undiluted diet of one type of broadcasting because the majority of people in that area say they want it. This is, I would maintain, one definition of élitism with regard to balance in broadcasting.

I found Senator Yeats' amendment [1044] very interesting if rather long. It has good things in it that the Minister might well look on favourably between now and Report Stage. Basically in this series of amendments we are trying to cope with a problem that can never be satisfactorily resolved, the problem of what exactly you put in the Bill with relation to the obligations on the Authority in this area. I tend to favour the minimalist attitude in this matter. It is an attitude which was very well expressed during the debate on the predecessor to this Bill in this House in 1960 by the then Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, Mr. Hilliard. As reported at Volume 52, column 19 of the Official Report he said:

As regards programme standards, the Bill is silent apart from what is said about the Authority's duty with respect to national aims in Section 17. This is deliberate because it is recognised that phraseology can do nothing to assist the Authority in this field. As custodian of a public trust, with a wide measure of independence and corresponding responsibility, the Authority will be expected to set its standards high ...

Again at column 174 he said:

You can, on the one hand, try to set out in considerable detail what you would like the Broadcasting Authority to do or, on the other hand, you can give them very broad terms of reference and leave them the freedom to determine for themselves how they are to tackle the job, and the Government, as Senators know, has decided upon the latter course.

However much I might query the exact phrasing of the section in the original Act which this section replaces and which we are now attempting to amend and, indeed, I quarelled with Senators on the other side of the House on this during the period of administration of the last Government, we should be very slow to depart from the idea that “least said is soonest mended” and to write as little as we can into this kind of section. The problem is that once you [1045] start writing things into a section like this it is very difficult to find any rationale for stopping. It is almost impossible to find very good reasons for keeping a great many things out, and it is possible to find a great many reasons for putting all sort of things in. So, we are simultaneously trying to decide what are the good things we would like to see in this section, where are we to draw the line and where are we to cut off our statements of what is our wish as to what should be in the Bill and what the Broadcasting Authority should do.

What we see in the section, and to a certain extent also in the amendments, is a reflection of a wide-ranging debate for which the Minister has been very largely responsible. He has had a concern—“obsession” might not be too strong a word—with the question of Irish nationality. It is a concern for which all the people in Ireland have to some extent been beneficiaries. As I said in my Second Reading speech, it has opened up a lot of ground that has been fallow far too long. It has explored a lot of avenues that have been closed to us. It has forced us to face up to a peculiar amalgam of myth and reality in an attempt to determine which is which. I wonder whether, ultimately, this debate which is an on-going one, is ready to be incorporated in a statute of the Oireachtas. With any luck it will continue to be an on-going one for quite a long time. It is a very difficult—not to say dangerous — to try to pin it down in aspects at this time.

Having said that, I would like to come back to the question of my own amendments and in particular to amendment No. 73. I have already said why I think it is important in a statute relating to the media that we should have some explicit recognition of any rights which have been conferred on the media by the Constitution. The phraseology I use in the amendments, as drafted, is those related to freedom of expression. The phraseology in the Constitution, which I might well consider substituting for this on Report Stage, is “rightful liberty of expression”. In a sense, even though it is difficult to differentiate [1046] between the words “liberty” and freedom”, the word “liberty” is probably less ambiguous. It has the additional advantage of being directly taken from the Constitution itself.

The Minister used this argument with some justification for his employment of the phrase “the authority of the Government” in relation to an earlier amendment. He did not see, then, the need to actually quote in the statute the fact that it came from the Constitution, and indeed I see no reason to quote here the fact that this particular phraseology is, or will be, I hope, taken from the Constitution as well. It is a good thing to put it in. The Minister would do himself a service by accepting this amendment, or a variation of it. He might help to defuse a lot of the criticism, some of it very unrealistic, with which he has been faced in the media. Statutory recognition of the media and of their problems in this way would be an important political matter and something which would, as I said, stand him in good stead.

One of the items I hoped to delete is in connection with the phrase “the democratic values in the Constitution”. To some extent, I am opposed to mentioning the Constitution specifically here. The Minister, as far as I remember, has expressed some considerable scepticism about particular Articles in the Constitution and has even said—I have not got the reference; he will correct me if I am wrong—that he personally would prefer to see a new Constitution rather than to go about restoring or revitalising it on a piecemeal basis. I would tend to agree with him on that.

That is why I think it is wrong in this Bill to refer specifically to a particular Constitution. Granted it does not refer to the 1937 Constitution. Granted it could be argued that if we had a new Constitution in the morning this Bill would be interpreted by any court as having reference to the new Constitution rather than to the old. It is unnecessary to put it, in this particular way. I am all in favour of democratic values. I suspect there are some democratic values which are not to be found in our Constitution or, perhaps are [1047] not adequately expressed in our Constitution, just as I am sure there are probably some values in our Constitution which are on the shady side of democracy. That is why I would prefer to see a very simple reference to democratic values rather than a specific reference to the democratic values in the Constitution.

I am not saying that this simple reference to democratic values does not beg a lot of questions. Of course it does. In my view it begs rather fewer than the particular phraseology which has been adopted in the Bill. On the whole question of democratic values and the need in the media to uphold them, I agree with the Minister in broad terms that there are times when people have to come to the defence of democratic values. I do not necessarily agree with him completely on the degree to which these are threatened at the moment, but I agree with him that when the chips are down something has to be done, and people have to stand up and be counted.

In this context I should like to refer very briefly to a statement he made on the Second Stage about the same issue. This was when he was criticising the contribution which had been made earlier in the debate by Senator Robinson. As reported at column 1378, Volume 80, of the Official Report he said:

There are ways of setting one's democratic sights so high that the basic distinction between democratic systems and undemocratic systems drops out of view. Senator Robinson seemed to be in some danger of doing this.

Without commenting directly on that criticism for the moment, it is as well to point out that the criticism the Minister levelled at Senator Robinson can be levelled, and indeed has been levelled by other people, at other people apart from the Senator he mentioned. The same criticism was employed by the Minister in a very interesting quotation from an article he wrote in the February, 1975, issue of The Furrow when he was doing a review of a book about the [1048] Church and State in Ireland. The quotation reads as follows:

... in a democratic situation elected persons are at a tremendous disadvantage in dealing with wielders of political power who hold that power irrespective of electoral process. The implications of the under-current of disparagement which runs through episcopal references to the political leaders helped to provide a favourable climate for the eventual emergence of Sinn Fein...

That essentially is the same criticism by the Minister directed in this case at a different party. Indeed, I thought of the Minister's criticisms when I read in The Irish Times of May 13th of this year a report of a speech by the Bishop of Limerick, Dr. Newman, who was addressing the Adult Education Institute and who said:

... democracy, which was the “in-thing” today and assumed to be flourishing in our midst, was surprisingly little practised.

The extent to which the actual will of the people was sidetracked, he said, even in the best-functioning democracies, by parties and politicians, was such as to make the description “Government of the people, by the people and for the people” ring very hollow.

We have here an indication of the sort of thinking to which the Minister's criticism might be much more legitimately addressed. He would do well to make it clear when he replies that people who are elected, on however inadequate a franchise, hold a greater mandate to make statements of this kind about the democratic process than people who are not elected. This is implicit in his various statements. It would be an important clarification and distinction for him to make.

In my second amendment, amendment No. 77, I am proposing the deletion effectively of the reference to the European Economic Community and the addition of a separate phrase: “the concept of international peace and justice, and the brotherhood of nations.” I have no particular [1049] ideological objection to the EEC. I voted in favour of this country's accession to the EEC and would probably do so again if the situation arose. Yet it seems to me, as I said on Second Stage, unrealistic in two respects to mention the EEC in this legislation at this point. First, it is unrealistic from the point of view that the EEC may not exist as such in ten years time, that we may not be a member of it in ten years time, that some other countries who are now members of it may not be members of it in ten years time, and so on. We are talking about a fluctuating ongoing thing which may or may not continue to exist.

Secondly, and perhaps more important, this section could be construed as excluding many other countries. The Minister is a member of a socialist party. There are very many other countries in Europe outside the EEC which practise socialist forms of Government of one kind or another. Not all these forms of Government may be equally attractive to the Minister or to people who are brought up in the western tradition of social democracy. It seems to me to be odd that the Minister, as a member of the socialist party, should be writing into a Bill a phrase which almost specifically excludes a great many other countries with socialist forms of Government.

In summing up I should like to say that I approached this section and the whole problem of amending it with some diffidence because I believe what we say will have very little statutory effect. In general, I am against the idea of putting hortatory sentiments into legislation. Legislation, it has always seemed to me, is for laws not for expressions of political goodwill, or ambition, or aims, however attractive they may be, or however much I personally agree with them.

Mr. Mullen: I want to refer to two of my amendments. The first one is amendment No. 72, which reads:

In page 9, lines 33 to 43, to delete paragraph (a) and substitute:—

[1050] “(a) be responsive to the interests and concerns of the whole nation and recognise the diversity of those elements which combine to establish an Irish identity, while at the same time acknowledging the special importance of encouraging and fostering the Irish language.”

There are a number of reasons why I found it necessary to put down this amendment. I do not regard myself as being in great conflict with what the Minister has provided. In this section the Minister adverts to the general duty of the Authority. One of the things that perturbs me is paragraph (a) which reads: “be responsive to the interests and concerns of the whole community, be mindful of the need for understanding and peace within the whole island of Ireland.” That concerns me. I believe this legislation will eventually be passed. I do not think we need to lay emphasis on the desirability of always having peace. That being so, there is little sense in providing that the Authority must be mindful of peace. That goes without saying.

I also realise that it is very difficult to take care of every eventuality. We cannot indicate clearly just how far an authority should or should not go. I recognise that the Minister has the authority to select the members of the Authority.

Section 17 (a) of the Principal Act provides that the Authority shall be responsive to the elements “ which distinguish that culture” and to the Irish language. Some people are inclined to regard the Minister as not being interested in the Irish language or Irish culture. I have never felt that way about the Minister. We have to be extremely careful about what we spell out in matters of this kind. Because of this I put down this amendment. It is not with a view to being contentious. It is with a view to being helpful. I am very sincere about that. It is our function to help as much as we can when considering important matters of this kind. I would ask the Minister to give serious attention to my amendment with particular reference to peace. We all desire peace. It [1051] is extremely unfortunate that we have not got peace in this country. The Minister would be wrong to talk in terms of the community rather than the entire nation. I recognise that there are different elements of culture. We should never ignore people's points of view.

My amendment to section 13 reads:

“have special regard to the desirability of promoting understanding of the values, culture and traditions of Ireland to the international community while at the same time having regard to the desirability of promoting understanding of the values and traditions of other countries”.

In this connection Senator Horgan hit the nail on the head. Although we are a member of the EEC, we should realise that the EEC is not Europe. I would hope that we would always try and have regard for all the countries in the world even the eastern parts of the world. We should not confine ourselves to identifying ourselves purely within the confines of the EEC. It is about time we realised that we cannot build a wall around Ireland. Neither, of course, can we build a wall around the EEC. That is why I referred to “other countries” in my amendment. I referred to all the countries because we can learn from each other. I hope the Minister will give consideration to my amendments.

Dr. Martin: I was very impressed by the words of both Senator Horgan and Senator Mullen. I find myself, by and large, in agreement with them. The difficulty is inherent in section 13, subsection (a) in the words:

“... be mindful of the need for understanding and peace within the whole island of Ireland...”

I agree with Senator Mullen. We should take that desire for granted. It does not seem to me specifically to be a function of legislation relating to broadcasting to emphasise or underline some aspect of general morality and good to the exclusion of certain others. This desire for peace would not have entered into legislation like this ten years ago. It is problematical [1052] in another way because what does promote peace within the whole island differs from mind to mind. Obviously a direct exhortation to war would run contrary to the desire for peace. There is a possibility that very often exhortations towards peace can be couched in such a way as to kindle rather than to quench. I have heard it argued that some of the Minister's very impassioned and just statements about the subversive organisations have been stated with such force and vigour that they have had the counter-effect in Northern Ireland, that they have inflamed the minority population to oppose him. It is only a matter of opinion, but the definition of what promotes an understanding of peace or promotes peace is a rather difficult area. An extremely zealous exhortation to peace can have its counter-effects, just as an extremely zealous exhortation towards other aspects of morality can sometimes have a reverse effect too. I support Senator Mullen in saying that it is not really necessary there. I do not think it is very harmful, but it does not seem particularly necessary.

Another slight contradiction—and one which seems to run throughout the Bill—is this sudden tenderness for the Irish language, this specific desire to cultivate the Irish language. If that is to be contained in section 13, and in section 6 we leave open the possibility of delivering over our entire airways to BBC 1 where there is no particular concern for the Irish language, and no Irish content at all, it would seem that there might be a contradiction there. Could it not be argued that the wholesale introduction of the second foreign station in fact runs contrary to that particular aspiration, that formulation of intent, to foster the Irish language? I would find myself happier with Senator Mullen's first amendment.

There is an aura of exclusiveness about the end of paragraph (c): “...including in particular the values and traditions of such countries which are members of the European Economic Community.” My amendment suggests that those words should be deleted. We should have regard to [1053] the desirability of promoting understanding of the values and traditions of countries other than the State. That seems to me to be quite sufficient. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges to civilised nations at the moment is concern for the Third World. The EEC are pretty well off by comparison with a great number of the other countries of the world. To single them out for understanding seems to suggest the exclusiveness of the European club slightly too much.

Another aspect of that exhortation is the implicit censorship involved in it. If it is laid down specifically on the Authority to promote understanding of values and traditions of countries other than the State, particularly of the European Economic Community, you are implicitly forbidding adverse commentary from our television stations on our membership of the EEC. For instance, if this legislation had been in force, say, a month ago before the debate on Britain's renegotiation of terms in the Common Market, our whole population would have been exposed to the philippics and the polemics of Anthony Wedgewood Benn, where he saw the whole thing as a new Babylon and where he attacked the entire concept. If we implicitly gave our charter and authority to the BBC, then something would be articulated on that channel which would run contrary to the specifications here.

More important than that, because that is only a tiny point, is would seem to me to possibly stifle discussion, particularly critical discussion of our membership of the EEC. It is not outside the bounds of possibility that it might be a good thing to renegotiate membership of the EEC or withdraw from the EEC. Our membership there is by no means final. If that imperative or exhortation is left there, that whole area would certainly be muted if not annihilated.

There are a great number of people in the country who do not feel as happy as the Minister does — he did not always feel as happy about the EEC as the official line of Government policy does. Things could change in [1054] such a way that the Government themselves would feel that renegotiation would be a good thing. In such circumstances, it could be quite embarrassing to have a phrase such as this, a phrase which is demanding the kind of act of faith, the kind of blind anticipatory allegiance to the EEC for all time.

It seems to me under those two heads that it is not only an unnecessary phrase but by and large a rather dangerous, undesirable and inhibiting phrase. It is ultimately a phrase which leads to another kind of censorship. Various forms of censorship unquestionably are coming through in this Bill. This again I view with some alarm seeing that our home station, RTE, is consistently cabined, cribbed, confined and bound in while at the same time there is a great deal of dialogue towards giving a totally uninhibited service such as BBC 1 freedom of the air. The effect of this on RTE's morale would be undesirable.

I implore the Minister to consider the deletion of those. I have nothing against the substitution of Senator Horgan's amendment No. 77—that a very admirable and well stated phrase should be put in at the end of the paragraph “the concept of international peace and justice and the brotherhood of nations”. My only reservation with that phrase is Senator Horgan's own reservation. It is perhaps too much in the area of a Redemptorist exhortation than in the kind of code language that a legal instrument should espouse. They are my objections to this section of the Bill.

Mr. Yeats: I feel almost embarrassed to be doing it, but just this once I must defend the Minister. I do not think we can agree with some of Senator Martin's remarks about paragraph (c). My personal view of paragraph (c) is that it does not help much. I do not see any point in it, but if the Minister wants it in I would not object. I do not think Senator Martin is right in his interpretation of it. RTE are asked to have regard to the values and traditions of such countries as are members of the European Economic [1055] Community not of the European Economic Community as such. Therefore, they would be perfectly entitled to put anyone on the air who wished to oppose the Community or the concept of our being members of it. What are in question are France, Germany, Italy and so on as individual countries rather than the Community.

The problem with a section such as this is that it is very difficult to say that any particular wording is right or wrong. There is no great difficulty with ordinary legislation — each section has a particular purpose in mind. One may disagree with the purpose, but there is a purpose which is to be served. One must decide firstly whether he agrees with that purpose and secondly whether one feels that the wording is such that it is being achieved. A section such as this is like an essay in pious hopes: no one can say that any particular wording is wrong and that any other wording is right. There is a specific element in the Minister's wording of section 13 with which I disagree. My own amendment is very long because when I went to the wording of the advisory body I did not want to take it upon myself to put some bits of it in and leave some of it out. Some parts such as paragraph (5) of section 4 where the Minister mentioned “provide for continuing discussion of Irish identity” do not seem to me to help very much. I would be happy to lose this part in that wording.

Taking the Minister's own section 13, I would have no objection to paragraph (b) or paragraph (c). I would not get very enthusiastic about them but I cannot see any real objection to them. If the Minister wants them I would not wish to oppose them. I have no objection to the first sentence of paragraph (a) which states that the Authority shall in its programming “be responsive to the interests and concerns of the whole community, be mindful of the need for understanding and peace in the whole island of Ireland”, and so forth.

I differ quite strongly from the [1056] Minister in the rest of his paragraph (a) which says that the Authority shall ensure that the programmes reflect the varied elements which make up the culture of the people of the whole island of Ireland and have special regard “for the elements which distinguish that culture and in particular to the Irish language”. There is no real reflection of the fact that we are a separate people in Ireland, North and South. Whether we are one nation or two is a matter one might argue with the Minister. I do not think it really matters whether we are Protestant, Catholic, Nationalist or Republican. We have a certain existence in this island. We have a certain—the Minister does not like the word identity but if he likes to use some other word he can—existence as Irish people. This is not reflected in the Minister's paragraph (a). It ought to be reflected in the programming of an Irish television service. This is particularly so in the light of the fact that if the Minister has his way the greater part, in terms of length of time and programming will not be Irish at all.

For Report Stage I will try to draft a further amendment which, while preserving the parts of the Minister's section 13 which I have no objection to, would establish some kind of Irish aspect through the programming which ought to be there.

As far as Senator Mullen's amendment No. 72 is concerned, I would be very happy to see that accepted because it makes the point that I should like to make myself. If the Minister is willing to accept amendment No. 72 I will be perfectly happy. If he is not I will see what I can do for Report Stage.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I should like to speak on the amendments seriatum. I will not take up too much time. I do not want to reply in any attempted definitive way to the points that have been made because in relation to the formulation of this more or less necessarily vague section I would like to look over the statements of Senators, think over them and see how far, in the light of them, I can improve [1057] the wording that I have. I do not want to be too definite in my reply.

Senator Alexis FitzGerald pointed to a section of Senator Mullen's amendment No. 72, “recognise the diversity of those elements which combine to establish an Irish identity” and urged me to consider whether I could not incorporate those. I shall certainly consider that very carefully and sympathetically. I am not sure that that exact wording is what I want but in that general sense, yes.

At present I would oppose, for reasons indicated, amendment No. 71. I could not accept amendment No. 72 and I think Senator Mullen has indicated he would be willing not to press it if I would consider it between this and the Report Stage. With regard to Senator Horgan's amendment No. 73, again I could not accept this just as it stands but he himself in the course of his remarks made a very interesting suggestion when he suggested instead of “freedom” of expression, the Constitutional language “rightful liberty” of expression. I prefer that. I should like to incorporate it and I should make the distinction here that what bothers me about the original wording is that here we have a Bill which for reasons on which I expatiated at perhaps tedious length in my opening statement, imposes certain limits on freedom of expression. I think it does so rightly and I fear that if we add to those a sort of lift of the hat in the direction of freedom of expression it might seem to be a bit false or a bit hypocritical. I think the same objection does not apply when we say “rightful liberty” of expression because that means—at least that is the way I interpret it and perhaps Senator Horgan does not stress that—that there are liberties of expression which are not right, such as incitement to crime, violence, racial hatred and so on. With that, I therefore feel that whereas I cannot accept that amendment as it stands I should like to incorporate that idea in the Bill and I would hope to have something by Report Stage on that.

[1058] With regard to amendment No. 74, this has to do, as it were, with exporting — making known our values and traditions to the international community. I will certainly have a look at that. Again I cannot accept the amendment as it now stands and I see more serious difficulty about it than some of the other amendments. In the present state of technology in television transmission and having regard to the international principles laid down in radio regulations limiting the power of radio and television transmitters to that which would give adequate national coverage—that is without prejudice to the other question of whether and how we should reach the whole island—it would be unreal to require the Authority by statute in regard to their programming to have regard to the desirability of promoting international understanding of our values and traditions, however worth while that aim might be. I do not feel that it is entirely practical in the context of a Bill such as this.

Amendment No. 75 is a Government amendment and is purely of a technical kind. It is merely a rewording of the first portion of paragraph (c) to make it more meaningful in programming terms. No change of content or emphasis is intended.

Senator Martin's amendment proposes to delete the reference to promoting understanding of the values and so on of the member countries of the EEC. This, like other parts of it, has a relation to the recommendations of the broadcasting review committee which, on page 20, section 343 (iii) says that the service should actually contribute to the flow and exchange of information, entertainment and culture within Ireland and between Ireland and other countries especially her partners in the European Economic Community. This wording that I have here in section 13

including in particular the values and traditions...

is perhaps a little more less emphatic in relation to the EEC than the broadcasting review committee.

Let me say something of why I think this should be there and why I [1059] think it should not be diluted into “general understanding of other countries” and so on. The people of Ireland by a large majority chose to enter into a common bond with certain peoples and certain nations which they have not chosen with other nations: they could have entered another international grouping or groupings and they did not choose that — they chose this by a very large majority.

The idea of this is that broadcasters should be mindful not merely of purely domestic matters, the national things, but also of the international close grouping which Ireland has decided to enter. It may be said, why not the United Nations? The United Nations is a matter of which I have some experience: it has a value as a sort of defective but not entirely useless safeguard for the peace but the values which it can be described as sharing, again becomes like their identity, attenuated and hard to pin down. In the EEC we have entered into close relationship with a certain group of countries. We have tied, for the moment anyway, our destiny to theirs and this suggests that the service should promote the understanding of the values and traditions of the countries which make up that.

I should like it to be clear, however, that promoting an understanding of the values and traditions of these countries does not mean that the broadcasting service has to say every hour on the hour, “Up the EEC”. It does mean something quite different. It means literally what it says: that it should promote an understanding of their values and traditions. They are like other countries, there is good and bad there, and provided the broadcasting service gives, in accordance with its general requirements, a balanced idea of what its values and tradition are and how they are getting along out there. I think they will be doing their job and that only is what is implied by this section. That is to say: “We have chosen to join an association with near neighbours; let the broadcasting service let us know more about those near neighbours as well as about ourselves.”

[1060] Amendment No. 77 raises the same point. Again I would say that there is nothing in this which would exclude criticism of the EEC. There is no reason why there should not be programmes discussing the pros and cons of continued membership of the EEC or anything of that kind, or criticism of particular developments inside the EEC which might be negative as far as we are concerned or negative as far as the Third World is concerned, or is in any other way undersirable.

There is no intention here to restrict discussion on this, but simply to draw attention to the need for our knowing better the countries with whom we have been drawn into the bond. One could even argue, if one was very anti-European, that the more one gets to know these dirty dogs with whom we have associated ourselves the more one will feel inclined to get out of the Community. Personally I do not think it would have that effect but you could so argue. All we want is that we should really get to know their values and traditions. Some of their traditions are, of course, dreadful. Some of the traditions of the European countries, I think virtually all of them, are horrible blots on history. I do not need to mention any particular country because it is true of all of them. But there they are. These traditions also have to be known.

Amendment No. 78 is a Government, a technical one designed to eliminate the repetitions of the words “the values and traditions.” It has no other significance. It does not mean very much.

I am not trying to reply comprehensively to the debate because there are many points that I want to think further about. Senator Horgan made a general point in relation to my criticism of Senator Robinson, and on some other points, that it is people who are elected who have the best right to criticise the democratic process. That is true. I would agree with that. I think I hear Senator FitzGerald murmuring “élitist”, but it is true.

Several Senators indicated that [1061] there was no need to have this bit about “being mindful of the need for understanding and peace within the whole island of Ireland”. Senator Martin made the point that exhortations to peace—he included some of mine—could sometimes do more harm than good. What I have in mind in this section is certainly not that the broadcasting service should be issuing homilies on peace every hour on the hour or even at less frequent intervals. I have something more fundamental in mind. It is very fundamental and it will be lasting. Some Senators suggested “Well, all this talk about peace, there may be a bit of bang-bang at present but that will quieten down and then you will not need this.”

Not at all. The basic thing here is that this island is shared by two communities who most of us hope will grow together in understanding in such a way that the country may eventually become one. Any of us who cherish that aspiration and do so in any realistic sort of way must see that it is very far indeed from fulfilment that the division between the two communities in question is as deep as it has ever been.

In that relation, a broadcasting service which, as far as radio is concerned can be heard over virtually the whole island—we hope television will be the same, but radio certainly can be heard right over — did not bear in mind the need for understanding and peace within the whole island of Ireland would be a very dangerous thing. That is to say, it would be possible for things to be said carelessly and thoughtlessly from Dublin which would have an explosive effect in Belfast. Responsible broadcasters recognise this and increasingly recognise it, but it is very proper that it should be enshrined in broadcasting legislation. I hope that one day there will be no need for it, that it would be something that we could simply take for granted and that relations between the communities would be such that words from a broadcasting station could not possibly foment strife or lead to a breakdown in understanding. We are [1062] very far indeed from having reached that point now. I would favour letting this stand.

Senator Yeats indicated—I am grateful for him for doing it—just which parts of section 13 as it stands he could accept. He was very reasonable about that. He indicated that he would table an amendment to the part he cannot at present accept. I will consider that amendment carefully when he puts it in.

Mr. Horgan: I thank the Minister for the way he has welcomed the spirit of my amendment No. 73. To underline that, what I wanted to do with this amendment was to say that if we are to advocate the upholding of democratic values it is important to identify the constitutional phrase, “the rightful liberty of expression” as one of the democratic values that we are trying to uphold. It is at least as democratic as any other value in the Constitution. On the point of difference between the actual amendment and the section as drafted as to whether one should write “democratic values” or “the democratic values in the Constitution”, I certainly have an open mind. In so far as the Minister has made the concession on this point I would be prepared to make a concession in the other direction. I can assure him that he will have the benefit of my drafting attempts at an early date when he is in the process of considering his own amendments for Report Stage.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Senator Mullen was not here when I referred to his amendment No. 72, to which Senator Alexis FitzGerald also referred. I said that while I could not accept the amendment in its present form—I hope it will not be pressed—I did undertake to look at the amendment, especially at the words “recognised the diversity of those elements which combine to establish an Irish identity” and to see whether I could, and if so in what form incorporate those in the section.

Mr. Horgan: One final point in relation to the matter covered by amendments Nos. 76 and 77, I should like to go on record as one of the few Senators who was prepared to say [1063] that on certain occasions he would prefer silence to the sound of his own voice, but I would prefer not to see paragraph (c) at all in any form rather even than to see my own suggested amendment to it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 72 to 74, inclusive, not moved.

Government amendment No. 75:

In page 9, lines 46 and 47, to substitute “need for the formation of public awareness and” for “desirability of promoting”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 76 and 77 not moved.

Government amendment No. 78:

In page 9, lines 49 and 50, to delete “the values and traditions” and substitute “those”.

Amendment agreed to.

Question proposed: “That section 13, as amended, stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Yeats: I have only one minor query with regard to paragraph (c). I am a little puzzled why it refers to “the desirability of promoting understanding of the values and traditions of countries other than the State”. I should have thought that in view of the type of section it is, to put in “Ireland” would be more sensible. “State” raises a more directly constitutional aspect, but it is not really what we are talking about here.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I understand that this is the parliamentary draftsman's phrase but that does not mean that I will not examine it.

Question put and agreed to.


Question proposed: “That section 14 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Yeats: I should like to ask the Minister what it is hoped to achieve here?

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: There is not very much involved here. Subsection [1064] (1), which is self-explanatory, replaces section 19 of the 1960 Act which states:

The periods fixed by the Authority for broadcasting shall be subject to the approval of the Minister.

The new section gives more flexibility to the Authority to settle the hours of broadcasting. Ministerial approval will be needed only for the maximum and minimum number of hours broadcasting per year.

Subsection (2) which is also self-explanatory gives the Authority more flexibility in determining when advertisements will be broadcast. It replaces section 20, subsection (3) of the 1960 Act which reads as follows:

The total daily time fixed by the Authority for broadcasting advertisements, and the distribution, determined by the Authority, of that time throughout the programmes shall be subject to the approval of the Minister.

These are minor changes which the Authority would like to have and which are in accordance with my wishes as limiting Ministerial intervention to the minimum necessary.

Question put and agreed to.


Mr. Yeats: I move amendment No. 78 (a):

In line 33, after “purpose”, to insert “of a programme of capital works”.

This amendment relates to subsection (2) of the new section which is to be inserted into the Principal Act. I am not at all clear as to the purpose of this subsection. It says that the Authority may, with the consent of the Minister, in exceptional circumstances, borrow such sums as are required for the purpose mentioned in section 27 (2) of the Principal Act. The trouble is that in section 27 (2) of the Principal Act there are two purposes mentioned. I suspect it is the second purpose which it is intended to cover. As the subsection stands it is not clear. I suggest that my amendment would make clearer what I suspect is the Minister's intention.

[1065] In section 27 (2) of the Principal Act there is the statement that:

The borrowing powers conferred by this section on the Authority may be exercised for any purpose arising in the performance of its functions...

Later it says:

....but there may be attached to consent to borrow the condition that the moneys shall be utilised only for the purpose of a programme of capital works approved of by the Minister.

They are two quite distinct purposes in this subsection. Whichever the Minister has in mind should be clearly stated in his subsection in this Bill.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Section 15 amends section 28 of the 1960 Act. It empowers RTE to borrow temporarily overdraft in foreign currencies as well as in the currency of the State for the purpose of providing for current expenditure. They may also borrow temporarily in exceptional circumstances for the general purposes of broadcasting capital and working capital. The consent of the Minister and of the Minister for Finance will be necessary for temporary borrowing in foreign currencies and the consent of the Minister for exceptional temporary borrowing for capital purposes. Section 28 of the 1960 Act reads as follows:

The Authority may, with the consent of the Minister, borrow temporarily by arrangement with the bankers such sums as it may require for the purpose of providing for current expenditure.

The reason for seeking power for RTE to borrow temporarily by means of overdraft in foreign currencies is the same as in the case of section 11, under which they are prepared to borrow in foreign currencies for the general purposes of broadcasting.

Subsection (2) of section 15 provides that RTE may use their overdraft, borrow temporarily, for the general purposes of broadcasting including financing of capital works. Under the existing Act they may use their overdraft to provide for current expenditure [1066] only. The power under subsection (2) of section 15 may be exercised only with the consent of the Minister which may be given only in exceptional circumstances. The reason for this limitation is that it is not in accordance with the best accounting practice to use an overdraft for the general purposes of broadcasting, including the financing of capital works, save in exceptional circumstances. However, the need to do so arises occasionally when RTE's financial position is weak and moneys normally due to them cannot be paid over. For example, when an increase in the TV licence fee is authorised, the receipts from the increase cannot be paid over to RTE until an increased grant-in-aid is approved by the Oireachtas. Subsection (2) of section 15 is designed to cover this kind of eventuality.

As regards the amendment, the section, as drafted, provides that RTE may use their overdraft for capital purposes in exceptional circumstances. This is one of the purposes mentioned in section 27 (2) of the 1960 Act which reads as follows:

The borrowing powers conferred by this section on the Authority may be exercised for any purpose arising in the performance of its functions, but there may be attached to consent to borrow the condition that the moneys shall be utilised only for the purpose of a programme of capital works approved of by the Minister.

The effect of the Senator's amendment would seem to be to limit exceptional temporary borrowing by RTE to the financing of a programme of capital works. This would not be desirable. For example, exceptional circumstances might arise in which RTE would require to use their overdraft to supplement working capital, as I explained earlier.

Mr. Yeats: I am not altogether clear as to the Minister's point. As I understand it, in section 15 there are two methods of borrowing. First of all, in subsection (1):

The Authority may, with the consent of the Minister, borrow [1067] temporarily by arrangement with bankers such sums... for current expenditure.

We need not worry over the “other than in the currency of the State”.

In subsection (1) the Authority may borrow for the purpose of providing for current expenditure. Subsection (2) covers a situation where, when the Minister is satisfied that circumstances are exceptional, they may borrow temporarily money for the purposes mentioned in 27 (2) of the Principal Act. Subsection (2) of section 27 of the Principal Act confers borrowing powers on the Authority for any purpose arising in the performance of their functions which, I take it, include current expenditure, provided already under subsection (1) of the Minister's new section. Subsection (2) has a separate type of borrowing where the circumstances are exceptional. He refers to subsection (2) of section 27 of the Principal Act which provides that the borrowing powers there conferred can be used for any purpose which overlaps to some extent with the purpose of providing for current expenditure listed in the Minister's first subsection in this Bill. Therefore, it seems to me, he is providing for two types of borrowing for current expenditure.

First of all, under his subsection (1) where the Authority may, with the consent of the Minister, borrow such sums as they require for the purpose of providing for current expenditure. On the other hand also for current expenditure amongst other things they can borrow with the consent of the Minister, where the circumstances are exceptional.

The Minister has made it clear in his reply that what he envisages by exceptional circumstances is that these should not be items of current expenditure. Whatever else they may be, I think I am correct in thinking that the exceptional circumstances are not such as relate to current expenditure. It is quite clear that the second subsection of section 27 of the Principal Act to which the Minister [1068] refers provides among other things, for borrowing for current expenditure where it says: “any purpose arising out of the performance of its functions”, which includes current expenditure. Whether my amendment achieves its purpose, the Minister should, if that is his intention, specifically exclude current expenditure from the wording of his subsection (2).

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I am not sure whether I do not properly understand the Senator or whether the Senator does not properly understand me, or possibly both. There is nothing fundamental involved here and I will be happy to look at the matter again in the light of the Senator's comments.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 15 agreed to.


Mr. E. Ryan: I move amendment No. 79:

Before section 16 to insert the following new section:

“(1) Subsection (1) of section 31 of the Principal Act is hereby amended by the insertion after `may' of `by order'.

(2) After subsection (2) of section 31 of the Principal Act the following subsection is hereby added:

`(3) Every order made by the Minister under this section shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the order is passed by either such House within the next twenty-one days on which that House has sat after the order is laid before it, the order shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to its validity prior to the annulment.' ”

This amendment, in a sense, is a compromise between section 31 as it stood originally and what the Minister has proposed in section 16. What I am suggesting is that the powers given to the Minister under section 31 be retained but, on the other [1069] hand, that any order he makes must be tabled before both Houses of the Oireachtas and that the Minister, in certain circumstances, may then be obliged to explain and justify the direction he has given.

The Minister's amendment, in one way, can be regarded as the worst of both worlds because, on the one hand, it seems to limit or diminish the power given to the Minister, but in practice it is doubtful whether it will limit his power very much. If we look at it this way. It may limit the power of a very conscientious Minister who might want to give a direction to the Authority and might have very good reasons for wanting so to do. He might feel, reading the section as it is proposed to be amended, what he wanted to do was not strictly covered by the wording of the Act, that it did not come within the category of something that was likely to promote or incite to crime or lead to disorder. So he might have a perfectly good reason for wanting to give a direction to the Authority but, being a very conscientious Minister, might feel, reluctantly, that his reason was not covered by the wording in the section. On the other hand, it can be agreed that a less conscientious Minister could probably interpret the section so as to provide an excuse for giving almost any direction. It would be possible, if he was willing to interpret it in a rather loose way, to say that whatever it was he wanted to prevent might promote or incite to crime, or lead to disorder.

That was so even as the amending Bill originally stood. But this is far more so in the light of amendment No. 81, which the Minister will be moving. That means that the Minister could give a direction when something was likely to promote or incite to crime, or would tend to undermine the authority of the State. We have already discussed that phrase which certainly can be given a very wide meaning. A Minister, in explanation of giving a direction could say that what he wanted to prevent would tend to undermine the authority of the State because that is a very wide, almost all-embracing formula.

My point is that the limitation on [1070] the power given in section 31 is unsatisfactory, that it could be interpreted by one Minister as being so restrictive as to prevent him doing something that he really thought necessary to do. On the other hand, another Minister, not being very conscientious about it, could bring almost anything he wanted to do within the ambit of something tending to undermine the authority of the state. By leaving section 31, as amended in the Bill the Minister has acknowledged the necessity for the Minister having a power of this kind. But he has attempted to take some of what some people might feel to be the harm out of it, some of the objectionable features, by limiting it in the way he proposes. The alteration he has made gives us the worst of both worlds and is far from being an improvement.

The important thing in regard to this power of the Minister is to ensure it will not be abused. Everybody would have some reservations about giving this power to the Minister. But most people, having given it thought, would agree the power was necessary. What is important and essential in regard to this power is not to try to limit it in an artificial way — in a way which, in my view, will not be successful and cannot be satisfactorily done—but to ensure that any Minister in the future will not abuse this power. The ideal and proper way to do so is to ensure that the Minister has to explain and justify what he is doing. This can be done by making it necessary for him to place the order before both Houses of the Oireachtas. Of course, the Minister, in the amending Bill, has so provided. I agree with that part of the amendment. I agree that this was a good and necessary innovation. That went far enough without altering the words of section 31, subsection (1).

There is a fundamental point involved in this section and in section 31. Anyone who thinks about the whole position of the broadcasting service and of the Government must acknowledge that, in the last analysis, the Government have to accept responsibility for the broadcasting service. If they have to accept responsibility for the broadcasting service [1071] then they must have control of the service, certainly not in a day to day sense, but in certain circumstances. Certainly, it is not necessary to have continuous control, but when the need arises. One would hope the need would arise very seldom indeed. But when it does, then it should be absolute control, absolute power, so as to ensure that whatever emergency, whatever unusual situation has developed, the Minister and the Government can deal with it effectively. Trying to limit the Minister's powers by saying it can be done only in the way the Minister proposed originally in the amending Act, and subsequently proposes to change into a much wider form, is unsatisfactory, unnecessary and is an andeavour to do something that cannot be done effectively. In my view the position would be dealt with much more satisfactorily by retaining the power given in section 31 but ensuring that if, once in a while, the Minister of the time does have to give a direction, he has to come before both Houses, if they want him to do so, explain why the direction was given and justify it. This is quite sufficient control and protection and no other precaution of the type the Minister has written into the section is necessary.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I am opposed to this amendment. It restores that which was objectionable in the old section 31, that is to say, its blanket and general character. It is also out of line, not perhaps technically but in spirit, with something we have done already. Under section 3 (1) (a) of the Bill, as it has been amended by the Seanad, the Authority are prohibited from including in any of their broadcasts, or in any matters and so on anything which may reasonably be regarded as being likely to promote or incite to crime or else tending to undermine the authority of the State. The Government's amendment No. 81, which is a consequential one, would bring this section fully in line with that wording, that is to say, the Minister would have power only to give directions in an area where the Authority was already specifically prohibited [1072] from doing certain things. This would widen these powers indefinitely and make the Minister have power to issue directions to the Authority to refrain from broadcasting any particular matter, or matter of any particular class, and that the Authority should comply with such a direction—the existing absolutely sweeping, unlimited powers. That is what this legislation is intended to remove. It is intended to allow the Minister to intervene only in a specific category of cases on which the Seanad has already agreed to enjoin a prohibition. I am strongly opposed to this amendment and I would urge the Seanad to reject it.

Mr. E. Ryan: The first reason the Minister gave certainly does not seem to me to be sufficient. There is no reason at all why the Minister's power to give a direction should be limited to a particular thing which the Authority is directed not to broadcast. If the Act is amended as I suggest, if the Authority broadcast something which would be likely to promote, incite to crime or tend to undermine the authority of the State and if the Authority disregard their obligations under the Act then, that is a situation in which the Minister could step in and tell them they should not be doing this. But there is no reason why the Minister should not intervene in other circumstances also, if that is necessary.

The Minister emphasised the fact that the Minister under section 31, or under section 31 as amended in the way I suggest, would have sweeping powers, could give directions about everything and anything. Of course, that is true; but the practical position is that he is not going to do so. The practical position is that, in the last 15 years, that direction was given on one occasion only. Under my suggested amendment the Minister would be even less likely to step in if he has to justify himself before both Houses. Of course it is true that the Minister could give a direction about anything, that he could be quite capricious about it but, from a practical point of view, of course he will not do so. It does give him the power to do so in special cases. One must accept it will not happen very often. [1073] If the Minister knows his direction will be subject to scrutiny, discussion and demand to have it justified and explained in both Houses, that is quite sufficient protection. From a practical point of view, it is not the kind of power a Minister will abuse or use very often.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Is the amendment being pressed?

Mr. Yeats: It seems to me that the Minister would be wise to change his mind and accept either this amendment or one like it, because the great problem which we discussed on an earlier section about the Minister's form of words is that the precise nature of the crime concerned is not stated. Obviously, while one would not be willing to concede there is such a thing as political crime, nonetheless, in using the term, we know what we mean. It is clear that the type of crime intended to be referred here is something the Minister and indeed none of us would want promoted on RTE, the type of crime designed to undermine the authority of the State.

To some extent the Minister has dealt with this matter by his amendment, where he deletes the words “or to lead to disorder” and substitutes “or would tend to undermine the authority of the State.” The trouble is that he has done it in such a way that it is an addition and not an alternative. Therefore, we have the position where there is reference to the broadcasting of a particular matter or a matter of a particular class which would be likely to promote, or incite to crime, or to undermine the authority of the State. A crime there could be any kind of crime.

It could be a case of, say, fishermen deciding to block some port. It could be housewives sitting on the road because they objected to traffic travelling past some school too fast. It could be all kinds of offences of that kind. One could suggest that relatively innocent programmes, such as “Kojak” or “Hawaii-Five-O” are inciting to crime. None of these things obviously is intended by the Minister, but simply because they are not intended by the Minister, it would seem better to have [1074] a form of wording which would not enable them to be brought into question. With the wording as it stands, one could very easily make the case against RTE that a certain type of programme is likely to promote or incite to crime. Therefore, the problem with trying to spell out the matter in the way in which the Minister has in this Bill is that one does have these anomalies which are obviously undesirable. The advantage of this amendment is that the Minister, by his direction, can spell out precisely what he intends. I strongly suspect that the journalists and broadcasters concerned would prefer the original wording of section 31, with the valuable addition of the order being made by the Minister having to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas. With that valuable addition I have a feeling that, from the point of view of the broadcasters and journalists concerned, Senator Ryan's amendment would be considered more desirable than what the Minister has down. The Minister has fallen into the trap of trying to put too much down in print. In coming years the result is likely to be, one feels, that all kinds of problems will arise which did not in practice — whatever may have been the theory—arise in previous years.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendment No. 80 not moved.

Mr. Mullen: I want to make it clear that I was delighted to hear the Minister accepting——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: I cannot allow any further discussion on amendment No. 80. The Senator will be able to pursue it further on Report Stage.

Government amendment No. 81:

In page 10, to delete “or to lead to disorder” from line 40 and substitute “or would tend to undermine the authority of the State.”

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 82 and 83 not moved.

Mr. Mullen: I move amendment No. 84:

In page 10, line 47, to delete “twelve” and substitute “three”.

[1075] In my opinion we should substitute three months for 12 months. It is very important in such a matter that both Houses be consulted. I am not reflecting on this particular Minister, but Ministers come and go. That being so, it is absolutely imperative that we do not give this power to a particular Minister. Any changes advocated should be dealt with by resolution of the Oireachtas.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I have considered the Senator's amendment very carefully, but I am sorry I cannot accept it. A period of three months would be unduly short for an order of this kind, which would be issued only in very exceptional circumstances. It is unlikely that the circumstances necessitating the order would have disappeared in such a short period as three months. I think that 12 months provides adequately for the principle, which I share with the Senator, of the desirability of overview by the Oireachtas of orders of this kind. I have tried in this Bill, which I described initially as one of moderate liberalisation, to move in that direction. I am sorry I cannot move as far as accepting a three-month period.

Mr. Mullen: I accept that 12 months would be better than three months. Would the Minister reconsider the point he is making that there should be a ministerial order rather than have a discussion on such an important matter?

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I do not know if I follow the Senator. I am providing something which has not been provided for before and which is one of the more significant innovations of this Bill, that is, the possibility of the Oireachtas debating any such orders immediately they come before them. They need not merely debate them, but can annul them. That is a new and significant provision.

But if the Senator means that the Minister would not have power to make the order, that he would have to come here to have it debated before the order was issued, that does not [1076] allow for the urgency which might exist. This is reserve power which the Seanad, in general, has agreed that the Government must have. That reserve power is no good unless it can be applied quickly. If it has been applied wrongly, it can then be annulled. The power to react quickly is essential and I could not accept its removal.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 85 and 86 not moved.

Mr. Horgan: I move amendment No. 87:

In page 11, line 2, to delete “twenty-one” and substitute “ten”.

This amendment is designed to reduce the period of time in which annulling resolutions may be tabled. I am anxious to ensure that there should not be a very great length of time elapsing between the making of such a direction by a Minister and the tabling of an annulling resolution. For example, it occurred to me that if the Minister were to make such a direction on the day after the two Houses of the Oireachtas went into the summer recess, it could be up to seven months before either House of the Oireachtas could insist on the right to discuss such a direction or to vote on an annulling resolution. I have tried to shorten this period of time with the intent of making it impossible for any Minister to suspend parliamentary discussion for such a long period on such a matter of possible grave national importance.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Twenty-one sitting days is the normal period specified in cases of this kind. A shortening of the period within which the Oireachtas would have to act seems hardly warranted. I cannot accept the amendment.

Mr. Horgan: Does the Minister not accept that this sort of direction may well be issued in a situation of some tension and some national disagreement? Given the immediacy of the media themselves, it is important that if there is parliamentary backing for the Minister's direction there [1077] should be seen to be parliamentary backing for it immediately. This might well have the effect of reinforcing the ministerial direction rather than to leave an extended period during which it could be sniped at from a distance.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I shall consider the Senator's argument but at the moment I am not in favour of it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Horgan: I move amendment No. 88:

In page 11, between lines 6 and 7, to add the following new subsection:

(1C) Notwithstanding any provision in their standing orders to the contrary, either House of the Oireachtas shall hold a special sitting to discuss such a resolution if no fewer than one-third of its members sign a request to its Chairman for such a sitting.

This is a very simple amendment again related to the fact that there is a possibility that, if a Minister for Posts and Telegraphs issues such a direction, it may be at a time when the Government are unwilling to provide parliamentary time for it to be discussed or when Parliament is in recess. There is a precedent for legislation like this. It occurs in an Act relating to the EEC legislation and regulations whereby either House of the Oireachtas must discuss a matter connected with EEC regulations or legislation if a minority of the Members ask for it to meet in order to discuss the matter. As the experience of the past 20 years has shown, power is becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of the Executive. It is important now and again to build countervailing mechanisms into legislation so that people who are not of the Executive can have a certain privileged position in regard to certain matters.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: More or less as indicated in relation to the previous amendment, I feel that the existing Bill really goes as far as is reasonable in ensuring what did not exist before, that [1078] is Oireachtas overview in relation to these orders. What is envisaged here is exceptional and perhaps a little dramatic in relation to such a matter. Such exceptional provisions are hardly warranted in the case of a statutory order of this kind. In the circumstances, I am afraid I cannot agree to the amendment.

Mr. E. Ryan: The Minister in his approach to this section has emphasised how serious it is to give a Minister the power to issue this kind of direction. The kind of power Senator Horgan suggested should be provided, because it may be that a Minister would issue this direction at the beginning of a vacation. It might be a quite improper direction. It might be abusing his power under the Act. In these circumstances, there should be provision in this power which we are reluctantly giving to the Minister — we all agree this power should be given to him although we all feel there is a certain danger attached to it—to ensure that the Houses of the Oireachtas can review the order he made, and, if thought fit, annul it. I cannot see how the Minister can reconcile, on the one hand, his views about the seriousness of this order and the dangers attached to it and, on the other hand, will not agree to the suggestion which Senator Horgan made which would enable either House of the Oireachtas to review an order made by a Minister which might well be an abuse of his power.

Mr. Horgan: I am grateful to Senator E. Ryan for his support. I want to put further points to the Minister in support of the amendment. It is obvious from the way in which the amendment is drafted that it is designed to appeal to that entity which has been too often described by Senator Lenihan as a responsible Opposition. If a version of this amendment were accepted, it is always possible for an Opposition to act irresponsibly or frivolously in invoking it. The main way in which to make an Opposition irresponsible is not to give it any latitude, but to treat it in a very draconian fashion. I am not saying that the Minister in this Bill is treating [1079] the Opposition or anybody in a draconian fashion. I am saying that we should, if possible, build in mechanisms to allow legitimate expression of non-Executive, of non-governmental viewpoints, and to give them statutory rights. We have already done this in one respect over a number of years by (a) creating and (b) increasing the parliamentary allowances paid to the Opposition as an Opposition. That is a Government subsidising dissent. This is democratically very important. The statutory recognition of dissent would be a very valuable extension of this.

The other point is connected with the Minister's general approach to the question of minorities. We owe the Minister something for his insistence on the rights of minorities. There is a minority in Parliament, as indeed there is everywhere else. We should be thinking in terms of giving rights to minorities in the Legislature, if only for the reason that we are, however slowly and belatedly, coming to realise that minorities elsewhere in the community have their rights as well.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: For the reasons indicated, I feel unable to accept the amendment. I do not know whether there might be material for consideration here in the point made by the Senator for the Committee of Procedure and Privileges. I would feel unwilling to incorporate this requirement in the Bill itself.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question proposed : “That section 16, as amended stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Horgan: I have reserved many remarks that I might otherwise have made on the first amendment that we discussed because they more properly come on the section of the Bill as a whole. I should like to ask the Minister whether, in his opinion the section as now drafted corresponds in all respects with the speech he made almost two years ago today to the annual meeting of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union. At that conference in County Kerry the Minister [1080] said—the reference is The Irish Times of 9th June, 1973:

I intend to take out Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act, and remove altogether and deprive any future Minister of the power to issue the kind of directives that we have had.

It may be possible to reconcile this section of the Bill and that speech but in my opinion, it requires a certain amount of step-dancing to do so.

On the general question of governmental right to issue directives, I have a reasonably open mind. I am not one of the people who believes that this power should be completely removed from the Government or from Ministers. However, I think the exact legal formulation in which it is done deserves to be very closely scrutinised. I have a couple of points of detail on the section to bring to bear on that.

Before doing that I should like to indicate how remarkable it is that so much of the discussion over the past two years, and indeed on this Bill, has focused on this power of the Minister. In the debate in this House and the other House on the 1960 Act, there was very little attention paid to section 31. It was more often referred to in this House than in the other House. By and large, the whole thrust of the debate on that Bill was not in relation to section 17, but in relation to the possible conflict of interests between people who might be appointed as members of the Authority.

Of the Senators who referred to section 17, and the Deputies too, very few found themselves to be critical of it. One could almost do a quick gallop over the political spectrum. I will give too very revealing quotations of how true this statement is. On the one hand we had Senator Quinlan, who proposed an amendment to section 17 on Committee Stage in Seanad Éireann, urging the alteration of section 31 to read “the Minister may direct the Authority, in writing, to make available to any educational or productivity organisation, committee or body broadcasting time in furtherance of the national effort of economic development”. That was one amendment which, happily was rejected.

[1081] On the other hand we had in the other House Senator Browne, then Deputy Noel Browne, who actually did not mention section 31 in his contribution on Second Stage, remarking in a general fashion that the Minister was handing over too much control to this new body in view of the untried nature of the enterprise. I think we have come an interesting distance in ten years. If nothing else will exemplify it, those two quotations will.

On the specific details of the section, there are a couple of points I should like to bring to the Minister's attention. The first is in connection with subsection (1), which as drafted reads:

Where the Minister is of the opinion that the broadcasting of a particular matter or a matter of a particular class would be likely to promote, or incite to, crime or lead to disorder.

This has now been amended. I should like to refer the Minister to section 3 where there is a distinct difference in phrasing. In section 3 the words “likely to promote” do not appear and are replaced—I do not know if the replacement was deliberate or whether the draftsman had forgotten when he arrived at section 16 what he had written in section 3 — by the words “may reasonably be regarded as”. To my way of thinking the substitution in this subsection of the phraseology in section 3 would be much less likely to be misinterpreted, would promote harmony between the different parts of the Bill and would be altogether desirable. I may well put down an amendment to this effect on Report Stage, but in the meantime I would be very interested to hear what the Minister says in reply to this idea.

My other problem is in connection with the phrase “particular matter or matter of a particular class”. “Particular matter” virtually invites definition, actually demands definition. On the other hand, the phrase “matter of a particular class” is almost incapable of definition. In this respect it is also useful to look back on the debate on the earlier Bill to see precisely [1082] what the Government of the day had in mind. There are two quotations which are particularly relevant. The then Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, Mr. Hilliard, speaking at column 728 of Volume 180 of the Dáil Official Report, argued in connection with the powers given to the Government under section 31:

Their main intent is to give me and the Government an overriding authority to veto programmes in certain circumstances in the public interest.

In column 1737 he referred to:

...a direction to refrain from broadcasting a particular programme item...

It seems clear that what the Government of the day had in mind then was a veto power with respect to specific items. It is possible to justify and defend this power.

On the other hand there is an important and almost philosophical difference between “particular matter” or “matter of a particular class” in the sense that one demands definition and the other almost evades it. The only sort of direction I can think of that would comprise “matter of a particular class” would be so specific as to be almost absurd and would perhaps leave the Minister open to charges of unnecessary censorship. For example, the Minister might issue a direction to RTE not to broadcast any interviews with Mr. Daithí Ó Conaill, Mr. Enoch Powell or anybody you care to mention or he might have to specify further that the Authority were not to broadcast any interview with Mr. Daithí Ó Conaill or Mr. Enoch Powell on the subject of Northern Ireland. Mr. Daithí Ó Conaill in private life might be a notable authority on bee-keeping and the Authority might like to broadcast an interview with Mr. Ó Conaill on that subject but would be precluded from doing so by such a direction because of its vagueness, unless it was specified.

I see this continued inclusion of the phrase “a matter of a particular class” as posing a danger of leading to precisely the same situation as [1083] arose under the directive issued by the last Government to RTE. “A direction relating to a matter of a particular class” is bound to be imprecise, and in the area of imprecision arise all the problems of self-censorship, of ambiguity, of the Authority, in particular, not knowing what precisely they are supposed to be doing. I would be much more in favour of some form of words which would make it clear that the Authority were limited to specific items, perhaps even to specific programmes, and to leave this very dangerously ambiguous area out of the Bill.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: The Senator's statement on this section was very interesting. If we have, as I hope we will, a fortnight between this and the Report Stage, that would give me time to consider whether there is any improvement in the wording I can make in the light of his general comments.

He referred to a statement I made at the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union two years ago and said it would require a certain amount of step-dancing on my part to reconcile what I said then with what is in this Bill. I am not going to do any step-dancing. What I had in mind at the time I made the earlier statement was significantly different from what I have here. I do not want either to exaggerate or minimise the difference. I did intend at that time to replace section 31. I did not intend at any stage to remove all restrictions on the Authority in this area. I thought at that time that it ought to be possible to build into the Bill restrictions in making certain things mandatory on the Authority without the Minister having power to issue directions. Having thought further over this and considered what kind of wording could so bind the Authority, it became borne in on me that the Government would require reserve powers and this section provides for that.

Of course, the actual wording we now have, which refers to the authority of the State, and to which wording, which is constitutional, we gravitated [1084] during this debate points up why this is necessary. We cannot leave the authority, a subordinate body, as the ultimate judge of whether a given course of action undermines the authority of the State or not. The State has to have the power to intervene there. Senator Horgan's point is a legitimate one.

As regards the differences between section 3 and section 16, I think the wording of section 3 is appropriate for a general prohibition on an Authority, but section 16 is of a different kind in that what is involved here is the Minister's opinion. It is not something that is generally regarded more or less impalpable. Where it is the Minister's opinion that this should be done, that is it. It would be ridiculous perhaps to provide that here the Minister is of opinion that something “may reasonably be regarded as being...”; it must be the opinion that is likely or not. He must be that kind of Minister and not the other kind. That is the reason for the differences in the wording, and I would like to maintain that difference. As I say, I will read over the Senator's comments and the comments of other Senators and see whether there are any improvements we can make in the wording here. However, I would not envisage any major changes in the section as it stands.

Mr. Yeats: I have just one matter of a technical nature. I take it that the Minister in this section does not intend to include rebroadcasting?

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: No.

Mr. Yeats: I wonder if his definition of “rebroadcasting” in section 1 is exclusive of “broadcasting”? In other words, can one say definitely that the use of the word “broadcasting” cannot be held to include “rebroadcasting”? If one looks at the definition of “broadcasting” in the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1926, the word “broadcast” means the transmitting, relaying or distributing by wireless telegraphy of broadcast matter”. I should have thought that in rebroadcasting a programme RTE were doing just that. I wonder is the Minister quite sure of that or whether in the wording of this section as it stands he is not in [1085] fact also giving himself the power to direct the Authority to refrain from rebroadcasting matter.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I shall look into the point raised by Senator Yeats and, in so far as it is a technical point, take some legal advice on it. But, of course, in the substance of the matter, it would not be in the Minister's power to issue directions of this kind to the BBC which is outside the jurisdiction.

Mr. Yeats: That is why I raised the point. But, of course, if the Minister were to direct RTE not to broadcast a certain class of matter they would willy-nilly be broadcasting this over their second transmitter. I could see considerable problems arising.

Question put and agreed.


Mr. Yeats: I move amendment No. 89:

Between lines 26 and 27 to insert a new subsection as follows: —

“(3) A licence under subsection (2) of this section shall set out a code governing standards and practice for local programme matter.”

I put down amendment No. 89 because on the Second Stage of this Bill the Minister——

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Did the Senator say he put it down?

Mr. Yeats: I am moving it on behalf of Senator Killilea. We put it down, shall we say. I understood the Minister to say in the course of the Second reading debate that he would lay down conditions in giving a licence for these local programmes and that he would lay down conditions for the nature of the programmes which were to be transmitted.

It does not seem to us, on the wording of the section as it stands, that he is giving himself power to do this. It seems desirable that he should take this power and the wording in amendment No. 89 is designed, therefore, to give him this power. It [1086] is fairly flexible. It mainly enables him in giving a licence under subsection (2) of this section to set out a code governing standards and practice for local programme matter. I think the Minister would find it a useful power to have. I suspect strongly that, in the absence of something like this, he would not be in any position to exert any control over the programmes that were transmitted.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: That is not so. This section has to be read in conjunction with the relevant section of the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1926, which provides that the Minister may by order make regulations prescribing in relation to all licences issued under the Act the terms and conditions to be observed by the holders of such licences and subject to which such licences are deemed to be granted. Section 17 of the present Bill will bring local programme origination within the scope of the 1926 Act. Accordingly, an amendment along the lines suggested is not necessary and I cannot agree to it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Horgan: I move amendment No. 90:

In page 11, between lines 26 and 27, to insert new subsections as follows: —

“(3) A person licensed under this section to provide or distribute local programme matter shall be subject to the same statutory obligations relating to the content and presentation of such matter as apply to the Authority in respect of the broadcasts under its control.

(4) A licence granted to a person under this section shall be revoked by the Minister in any case in which a complaint against the person under subsection (2) of this section has been upheld by the Commission.”

There is an important distinction between the two amendments which Senator Yeats may appreciate in that his amendment now withdrawn suggested that the Minister should have a code. The Minister has [1087] already told us he has the power to have a code. My amendment intends to impose a very wide statutory obligation on anybody who is given such a licence. We had a discussion touching on this earlier on when we discussed the functions of the complaints commission. At that point the Minister said he anticipated, if I remember rightly that if local broadcasting extended to any degree, a separate piece of legislation would be necessary and that, therefore, it was not necessary to write into this Bill recourse to the complaints commission for persons who are agrieved by anything broadcast pursuant to a licence being given for local broadcasting.

I am disposed to accept this in part and, perhaps, to redraft my amendment on a future stage so as to exclude subsection (4).

Subsection (3) of my amendment is valid irrespective of whether or not we are going to have a major broadcasting service at local level in the near future. I am sure that local tyrannies can be just as upsetting in their effects as national tyrannies. Local wrongs can be just as deeply felt, even more deeply felt perhaps, than ones which are perpetrated on such a wide scale that no one individual or identifiable group of individuals can lay complaints against the person who perpetrates them. It seems to me that the minimum we can do in this Bill is to pass an amendment roughly approximating to subsection (3) of the amendment I have down here.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I sympathise fully with the intent behind the Senator's amendment. I agree in particular most heartily with him when he refers to the possibility of local tyrannies. Such a possibility exists and has to be guarded against. I would propose to guard against it. I do not think this amendment is really necessary. As I mentioned in connection with the previous amendment, there is section 6 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1926, which provides that the Minister may by order make regulations prescribing in relation to all licences issued under the Act the terms and conditions to [1088] be observed by the holders of such licences and subject to which such licences are deemed to be granted.

Section 17 of the present Bill will bring local origination within the scope of all sections of the 1926 Act. Section 6 of that Act will enable me, in relation to local programme origination, to make regulations governing the terms and conditions to be applied to people and organisations licensed to carry on such activities. I do not consider it desirable or necessary to deal with one aspect of this question in current legislation, when the whole question will be covered by statutory regulations to be made after this Bill becomes law.

The regulations in question must be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas and either House may pass a resolution annulling the regulations within 21 sitting days thereafter. I suppose that necessarily provides for the possibility of amendments also. Similarly in regard to the proposed subsection (4) the regulations I have referred to will cover the circumstances in which licences may be revoked. In the circumstances, I hope the amendment at this stage will not be pressed but the spirit of the amendment will be present to my own mind in relation to any regulation which I may effect.

Mr. Deasy: In the Minister's opening remarks he mentioned the sum of £2 million to be set aside for the extension of local broadcasting in years to come. I would like if he could tell us what this entails. Are we to have studios in the main provincial centres around the country.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: The Senator is speaking on the section in general. We have not disposed of the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Yeats: I move amendment No. 91:

In page 11, line 56, after “part” to add “of a premises.”.

The second last paragraph of section 17 reads:

[1089] “service points” means points in a premises or part of a premises which are connected by wire to a station and to which programme matter is conveyed by the wire for reception on wireless telegraphy apparatus in the possession of the occupier of the premises or part.

One wonders part of what. I take it that part of the premises is meant and, if so, I suggest that it should be stated. My amendment proposes to add “of a premises” after “part”. If you leave the word “part” in midstream it does not appear to refer to or mean anything.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I do not know about this one. The wording in question seems clear to me. Part of a premises is referred to earlier and the part referred to here is part of a premises. I am quite prepared to ask the parliamentary draftsman whether he can see objection to “part thereof” or something like that. I do not think we need take up too much time on it.

Mr. Yeats: Earlier the parliamenttary draftsman referred to a premises or part of a premises.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I suppose it is because he referred to part of the premises before that he did not consider it necessary to repeat it. I will put the point to him.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question proposed: “That section 17 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Deasy: I was asking the Minister if he could give some details of his plans for local broadcasting. A sum of £2 million was mentioned in his opening address. I should like to know how and where it will be spent. Will it be used solely for the purpose of setting up local broadcasting stations such as the one we have in Cork? If so, where will the centres be? How many centres will there be? To what extent will these centres be able to use the existing wavelengths?

[1090] I should also like to ask if there is any hope in the near future of having local television stations, regional stations, such as exist in Great Britain and the United States? Is it intended to operate these stations completely through the RTE Authority, or will they be operated in conjunction with the local newspaper interests? Certain people feel that to base local broadcasting on provincial newspapers and their staffs would greatly reduce the cost and that it would be expensive to staff these local stations by independent journalists.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: There is a misunderstanding and I should like to clear it up. It is an understandable misunderstanding. When the Senator refers to the £2 million he is referring to the Official Report of 12th March, Volume 79, column 774, where I said:

Additional television production facilities and extension of regional studios planned by RTE would cost about £2 million and improvement of coverage of the existing television service in those areas where reception is below average would cost a further £2 million.

What is involved there and what is involved in this section are different. What is involved in this £2 million regional development by RTE which they have power to do already and which they have done to some extent —for example, the development of their Cork studios and of Cork regional Broadcasts—is community initiative such as we have had to some extent in Ballyfermot and other places in Dublin. That is not covered by the £2 million. The £2 million is for RTE activity. The kind of local systems which may arise and are arising are connected with cable. They are a use of cable television. They are a possibility which exists under cable, where a local community group may have come together. I will give some examples. I sanctioned the relay on cable systems in Dublin of experimental programmes produced by the following associations in collaboration with the cable companies indicated: Harold's Cross Residents' Association [1091] in September, 1974; Ballyfermot Community Association in their Community Week in September, 1974; Ballymun Community Association, short experimental programmes in September, 1974, also; Lakelands Ladies Committee, Kilmacud, experimental programmes also in September, 1974; the Orwell-Wellington Park Residents' Association, experimental programmes on 3rd and 4th October, 1974. There is now an application before me for permission to relay on the Ballyfermot cable system on a regular basis programmes produced by the Ballyfermot Community Association.

It is to regulate this kind of activity that this section is evolved. There is no connection between that and the £2 million for RTE regional broadcasts. This kind of activity, the activity involved under this, will be carried out voluntarily. The talent concerned will be amateur and unpaid. The possibility of the broadcast will depend essentially on the relay cable companies. There may be possibilities in certain conditions for the operation to be financed, to the extent it needs financing, by local advertisements but it would not be very much.

I have made it clear to those concerned that while I favour this kind of amateur effort there are two things about it: (1) it must be subject to general regulations for the same reason as RTE is subject to them— Senator Horgan indicated the reasons for that also—and (2) it is envisaged as an amateur community activity and the State is not in a position to subsidise it, nor are the general licence fee payers, because it will be a service available only over cable in densely populated areas. So there is no connection between that and the £2 million proposed.

I can quote passages from the RTE 1974 Report in relation to their regional plans. I would refer the Senator to page 6 of that report where it says:

The Authority paid particular attention during the period under review to the need for accelerating the development of programme [1092] origination from provincial centres. A mobile radio studio was brought into service in May 1974 and subsequently used to originate a variety of programmes from various provincial centres including Athlone, Ballinasloe, Cork, Kilkenny, Killaloe, Shannon and Waterford. Progress was also made during the period in securing accommodation for the series of six regional radio studios being planned for Galway, Limerick, Waterford, Dundalk, Sligo and Athlone. Priority was given to equipping the studio in Galway, which is expected to be ready for radio broadcasting early in 1975.

Essentially, the planning and carrying out of that work and the expenditure of the money concerned fall under the RTE Authority. I am sorry this distinction was not made more clear before.

Mr. Russell: The Minister has more or less taken the wind out of my sails. I want to ask him about the studio in Limerick which was opened some two or three years ago with a flourish of trumpets. That was the first and last we heard of it. The people from that region wonder what will happen in the context of regional broadcasting. The midwest region, of which Limerick is the capital, is an obvious centre in which to push forward regional broadcasting. In that context the Minister will get a letter one of these days from the city council to ask him to receive a deputation with a view to pushing forward a Limerick “Roundabout” or its equivalent.

Mr. Horgan: Do I understand from this section of the Bill and from the Minister's gloss on it, that he is convinced the best way to extend local broadcasting on radio is via the agency of RTE in their day-to-day operations? Basically I would be happy with this provided they get sufficient encouragement and, indeed, finance to carry it out. There is one aspect of the section which is relevant to this and perhaps needs elucidation. It refers to the definition of local programme matter. Paragraphs (b) and (c) of that definition provide:

[1093] is conveyed by wire from or through a station to service points, and is not transmitted, relayed or distributed solely by wireless telegraphy.

My understanding of the relay systems that have been set up so far is that they are usually given a dual licence. They are given a licence to provide piped television and also, as far as I know, to provide piped VHF radio which few, if any of them, do. Does this section affect any relay company which decides to provide piped radio and thereby sets up a mini-VHF radio system which could also be used for the purposes of community broadcasting along the lines the Minister has already indicated?

Mr. Deasy: I should like to ask the Minister is it possible for a city like Waterford, which has got a cable system, to have these amateur productions relayed locally as they have been in various parts of Dublin?

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Yes.

Mr. Deasy: Is this widely known? Does the Minister intend to set up centres such as those in Cork at the moment and in other provincial centres which have their own radio programmes almost daily? Is it intended to set up such studios in other centres and have local programmes on radio?

Mr. Mullen: I realise that this section deals with regulations. One thing which worries me has to do with people responsible for programming. They can be guilty of various types of offences. I would ask the Minister on Report Stage to give consideration to ensuring that the people who are responsible for piped television, for example, are required to give value for money. People in this city have piped television but they do not receive anything. Our country cousins are looking for as much television as they can get, and the same thing will happen to them. I have witnessed cases where people have been made to pay for piped television and there was no piped television there at all. [1094] I would ask the Minister to take time out and deal with that matter as well. A person can be punished for having some type of television set but, if he is getting no reception, he feels very perturbed about having to pay a fine.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: A few points have been raised there, some of which really belong to the RTE Authority. I will pass on to the Authority Senator Russell's complaints about the Limerick studio. I am not in a position to report on it now. Senator Horgan asked whether I considered that the development of local broadcasting was best done through RTE. I am inclined to that view. Local radio is in a different position from cable, as it is more widely accessible and not limited to a specific category of people in specific narrow areas.

No proposals have been made to me about piping of VHF radio. I do not think there is any pressure for that. As regards the question raised by Senator Deasy, if people in Waterford, or any other centre where cable is available, wish to do the same kind of thing as has been tried out in Dublin, in Ballyfermot, and so on, I would be prepared to co-operate there. I should like to emphasise that all this matter of community television carried by cable is still very much in its infancy. Nobody can be sure whether the infant will grow up. It depends so much on the strength of local enthusiasts, first of all the enthusiasm of those who would have to work it without pay and keep at it at a certain ratio for a certain time, and also on the interest of viewers in their local issues, when by very definition this has to compete with the most sophisticated and often commercial broadcasting.

I would hope that it would develop into a live thing and that people have enough interest in the affairs of their community both to generate this kind of thing and to watch it. I have seen some of these myself. I have seen some very interesting experimental matter. They do not have to broadcast the same hours as the major companies. It could be an hour one evening a week sort of thing. If people want to do it in Waterford, or any other centre and their local cable people would co-operate [1095] in their effort, which is necessary I would see no objection to that.

The local radio which got going in Cork has been successful and popular, I am informed. If so, RTE will wish to develop that in other centres, subject of course to financial limitations which exist. I could not give undertakings as to the rate at which this will develop. I would imagine that, as it has proved itself in Cork, it will develop also in other major centres. I think that is on the way. As both the pace and the priority of development are in the hands of the Authority, I could not speak about it in any more detail than that. I hope Senators will forgive me.

Mr. Yeats: I have a few points I should like to put to the Minister on this section. First of all, in subsection (2) he provides for granting licences to authorised people to distribute local programme matter. I would suggest that it would be wise for him to provide in the Bill for all such licences to be published in Iris Oifigiúil. It would be valuable for the public at large to have some idea as to the number of licences he was issuing. Perhaps he might consider putting down an amendment to that effect on Report Stage. Secondly, in subsection (4) he provides:

Where local programme matter is distributed or provided contrary to subsection (2) of this section, the person who directed or produced, or who was in overall control or otherwise in charge of, the local programme matter shall be guilty of an offence.

I can see that, in the initial stages of most of these outfits, they might be almost a one-man show, one or perhaps two involved in doing everything that was required. In such cases it is quite simple to impose penalties under this subsection as obviously they would all know whether they had a licence. Provided the thing got a bit more elaborate, as perhaps it already has in Cork, and you had a number of people involved in distributing local programme matter, you could very easily find a producer, say, of a programme who had no idea whether [1096] a licence was in vogue for that particular programme system. Obviously what the Minister intends to do is that the people who are in charge of the actual organisation shall be liable for penalties, but it seems to me that the wording might be held to include a person who is merely engaged in getting out a programme or who is in charge of a particular programme rather than in charge of the organisation.

The Minister is giving himself power in subsection (2) to ban the making of any programmes down these wired services. You cannot distribute any kind of programme, either by television or radio, any programme or service of any kind, without a licence from the Minister. I take it that this means that the Minister will have to licence, for example, the private television service we have in Leinster House. In many factories, for example, they have programmes of music and information which they distribute down wires to their workers, or you have that ghastly modern institution called “Musak” which I believe is transmitted from a centre to provide mood music and such like to a variety of premises. All these, I take it, would come under subsection (2).

The last point I have to make is that this is an extraordinarily complicated section even by the standards of this Bill and I find it very difficult to understand the basis for the ban being that the transmissions down cables are received on a wireless telegraphy apparatus. If they are not received on a wireless telegraphy apparatus it would seem that the ban does not apply. I am prepared to accept that where television is concerned, any kind of a television set could reasonably be described as wireless telegraphy apparatus. I am not well up on how one receives these radio programmes on cable, but I should have thought that even a loudspeaker might do. At worst, you might need a very primitive kind of amplifier, but it seems to me that you could receive these programmes not on wireless telegraphy apparatus, unless the Minister perhaps covers the [1097] point that is involved in a very obscure definition in section 18, which we will be coming to shortly. I should like an assurance that this section provides adequately for covering any kind of apparatus on which you could receive these programmes, under the general title of “wireless telegraphy apparatus.”

I hope, by the way, that the Minister, who has a great interest in the niceties of the English language, is as offended as I am by the concept of “wireless telegraphy” being used to apply to programmes distributed through wire cables. It seems to be a misnomer. I am a bit doubtful as to whether all the kinds of apparatus that you could use for acquiring radio programmes down wires is necessarily wireless telegraphy.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: There are a number of points made by Senators, including the publication in Iris Oifigiúil of such licences, with which I am disposed to agree. As regards subsection (4) which the Senator mentioned, it renders guilty of an offence

the person who directed or produced, or who was in overall control or otherwise in charge of the local programme matter.

Subsection (3), which refers to “a person responsible for providing or distributing local programme matter on a cable system without a licence” might not embrace the producer of the programmes, for example, if these were being sponsored by a separate organisation. It is desired to ensure that such a producer would also be guilty of an offence if he produced programmes for an unlicensed local programme originator.

As regards the question of what is or is not “wireless telegraphy”, the definition of wireless telegraphy is covered in the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1926 and I do not think there is any question, for example, of the kind of monitor we have over there falling under this and being considered local programme matter for which we would require a licence. It originates within this building and it finishes here also.

As far as “wired” and “wireless” are concerned, I take it that cable television [1098] is partly wire and partly wireless. It is dealt with under the broad definition of “wireless telegraphy.” I will consider what the Senator says and see whether there is any point that requires to be covered.

Mr. Yeats: On the question of the meaning of “wireless telegraphy”, we will have it in the next section so I will not continue on that track. I am not all sure that the Minister is correct when he says that our private television service here would not be covered. He defines “local programme matter” in section 17:

`local programme matter' means any programme matter which—

(a) serves either by means of visual images with or without sounds, or only by means of sounds to inform persons of anything or to educate or entertain them, and

(b) is conveyed by wire from or through a station to service points, and

(c) is not transmitted, relayed or distributed solely by wireless telegraphy;

There is no doubt about it that our private outfit here serves by means of visual images without sounds to inform us of things. What is “a service point”? The section states:

`service points' means points in a premises or part of a premises which are connected by wire to a station.

On the next page we find

`station' means any apparatus (including wireless telegraphy apparatus) used to relay programme matter to service points.

On every conceivable count our private service here is covered. For the same kind of reasons I would suspect that wired services in a variety of other premises are also covered. I suspect that wired services in a variety of other premises are also covered. I suspect that the Minister might save himself a good deal of trouble if he were to put in a provision that this section did not apply to programme [1099] matter distributed within a particular premises so that it is limited to programmes that go from one premises to another. Otherwise I could see him issuing licences in thousands.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I will consider the Senator's point.

Question put and agreed to.


Question proposed: “That section 18 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Yeats: Here we have a definition of “wireless telegraphy” of which the Minister's memorandum, at the end of page 2, says:

Section 18 amends the definition of Wireless Telegraphy in the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1926, to cover any apparatus that uses the airwaves for communication of messages and signals and to make it clear that it includes wired broadcast relay stations.

It may make it clear to the writer of the memorandum or even to the Minister, but it does not make it clear to me. What the Minister has done is to leave the definition of “wireless telegraphy” precisely as it was in the Act of 1926, with one addition, that is, the inclusion of the words “overpaths which are not provided by any material substance constructed or arranged for that purpose.”

To me a cable is strictly a material substance, but we are told in this new definition that they must be emitted “over paths which are not provided by any material substance, constructed or arranged for that purpose.” If ever there was a material substance constructed or arranged for that purpose I should have thought it was a cable. This appears to be specifically excluded. I am sure there is some simple solution to this problem but it is not clear to me.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I want to say something about section 18 in general. Section 18 (a) extends the definition of “wireless telegraphy” contained in section 2 of the 1926 Act to embrace all systems of communication that use [1100] the airwaves. This is necessary because of technological developments in methods of radio communication since the original definition was drafted— for example, loop induction. Loop induction is used for short-range paging. The transmitting aerial for such systems consists of a network of wires embedded in the walls of a building. Radio waves which are transmitted from the wires can be picked up by receivers within the building. The system is virtually ineffective for outdoor use as the transmitted signals can be received only within a couple of yards of the walls of the building. These systems are used mainly in hospitals. factories and hotels. They do not involve “radiation of electric magnetic waves” and are not accordingly covered by the definition of “wireless telegraphy” in the 1926 Act.

Section 18 (b) strengthens the definition of “wireless telegraphy apparatus” to place beyond doubt the fact that cable television systems are wireless telegraphy apparatus. This involves the paradox referred to earlier by the Senator when we are speaking about something which is both wireless and wired. For example, it places beyond doubt that cable television systems are wireless telegraphy apparatus by providing that any apparatus is wireless telegraphy apparatus, which:

(a) is electrically coupled to wireless telegraphy apparatus—

For example, a television aerial, and—

(b) is used to receive television and sound programmes off air from a broadcasting station and to transport these programmes

For example, to a television or radio set. That could be held to be in doubt under the present law and it was desired to clear that up.

Mr. Yeats: Am I right in thinking that the table at the end of this section means that the definition of the word “telegraph” excludes cables? Cables are brought in by the addition of subsection (b)?

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Yes.

Question put and agreed to.

[1101] SECTION 19.

Mr. Yeats: I move amendment No. 92.

In page 14, line 15 after “revoke” to insert “or amend”.

This deals with the power of the Minister to prevent interference with television sets, radio sets and so on. Subsection 14, at line 15, provides that he can make orders giving various powers to the Authority or any other body. An order that may be revoked by a further order seems to me that it would be clearly wise from the Minister's point of view, instead of making a new order, to amend the order. I think it is quite commonly used. I would suggest that he do this. Otherwise, whenever he wishes to make a minor change he would have to introduce a new one and revoke the original one.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I thank the Senator for his amendment and I accept it.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Yeats: I move amendment No. 93:

In page 14, lines 18 and 21, to delete “subsection (9)” and substitute “subsections (9) and (9A)”.

This amendment is of somewhat more substance. The procedure under this section is that manufacturers of various electrical apparatus and others involved in this kind of trade can be required to show to an officer of the Minister and authorised by him, or alternatively an officer of the appropriate authority or any other body which would come under this section, these various forms of electrical equipment. If required to do so they can bring them to a testing station and have them tested. Under subsection (9A):

Where apparatus or any other thing is transported pursuant to a request made under subsection (9) of this section, the apparatus or other thing may be subjected by the person by whom the request was made or by any other officer or servant of the Minister, the Authority or the other body, as may be appropriate, [1102] to tests for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not the apparatus or other thing complies with the requirements applicable to it under the relevant regulations under this section.

There are two operations. First, under subsection 9, there is the provision for making the inspection, taking away the apparatus and under (9A) there is a totally different set of powers tested. Subsection (14) states:

The Minister may by order... declare that the Authority or any other body specified in the order shall have all the powers which the Minister may exercise under subsection (9) of this section.

The Minister has these powers. He is giving them to the Authority or to some other body, but all he is giving is the power to inspect the equipment and to take it away for testing. When it comes to the actual testing under (9A) he has not given the Authority or other body the powers. I would suggest that he should insert after subsection (9) in each case the words “or (9A)”. I cannot see any point in giving the Authority or other body the power to take away materials and then not give them the power to have them tested, which is only done under (9A).

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I am afraid I see no need to provide in subsection (14) power for the Minister to confer by order on RTE or on any other body the powers contained in subsection (9A). Subsection (9A) provides that apparatus may be tested by Departmental employees or by employees of RTE or any other body specified in an order made under subsection (14) while such an order is in force.

Mr. Yeats: If the Minister is satisfied that this covers it, I suppose the parliamentary draftsman knows his own business. On the face of it, it seems strange to be specifically giving the power under subsection (9) and then not extending it to a different operation. The Minister or his servants could exercise the powers under [1103] subsection (9) and then hand them over to some other body under subsection (9A).

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Yeats: I move amendment No. 94:

In page 14, line 29, after “means” to insert “the Authority of”.

Subsection (16) reads rather oddly.

In this section “the Authority” means Radio Telefís Éireann.

All through the Bill and in all legislation relating to Radio Telefís Éireann we do not talk about “Radio Telefís Éireann”. We talk about “the Authority”. It seems that by this definition the Minister is introducing a totally new and contradictory definition. I cannot see why the Authority in this case means Radio Telefís Éireann. Certainly Radio Telefís Éireann as such do not appear to have any legal existence. I do not know if they are referred to in any Act. It seems quite inconsistent to do it in this way.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: The point here is that this is an amendment of the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1926. It seems desirable to include a definition in the Bill on the same lines as that contained in the 1960 Act, as amended by the 1966 Act.

Mr. Yeats: If the Minister were to accept this amendment, would it endanger the stability of the Bill? It makes more sense just reading it. Would it in practice have any disadvantages?

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: The point is that the Authority are legally the whole body, not just the board. I do not think that any tremendous damage might necessarily be done by adopting this amendment, or perhaps much good either. At the moment I am not disposed to accept it, but I will look at it between this and Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[1104] Question proposed: “That section 19, as amended stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Yeats: The explanatory memorandum with regard to section 19 says:

In addition to providing more effective power to control interference the section is geared to meet obligations likely to arise under EEC Directives on interference.

I would be glad if the Minister would tell us something about what is envisaged in these EEC Directives. The only other query I have on this section is this matter of “any other body”. Under paragraph (1) the Minister speaks of delegating his powers to inspect electrical apparatus and so on to the Authority or to any other body specified in the order. Can the Minister tell us which other bodies he has in mind?

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: The need for these new powers is twofold, first of all, to strengthen the existing power to deal with interference problems in regard to testing samples of equipment suspected of causing interference and secondly, to align our interference legislation with the requirements which are likely to arise from EEC Directives on interference matters which are designed to remove barriers to trade in electrical goods within the Community. An EEC Directive has already been issued about interference caused by a motor ignition apparatus. Directives are likely to be issued in the fairly near future about interference caused by domestic electric appliances, fluorescent lighting, television receivers and scientific and medical equipment. So there is quite a lot of ground covered by it.

Mr. Yeats: What is meant by “any other body” specified in the order with regard to the investigation of interference?

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: It might mean the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards. They might be asked to undertake the task of testing if these were extended outside the field of interference by the order.

Question put and agreed to.

[1105] SECTION 20.

Mr. Yeats: I move amendment No. 95:

In subsection (4), line 7, to delete “, (3) and (4)” and substitute “and (3)”.

I am not suggesting that acceptance of this amendment would make any practical difference but it seems odd that in line 7 of section 20 the provision “(4)” appears, because the subsections referred to here in the Act of 1926 are dealing with various matters but the fourth subsection says in regard to the prevention of interference that:

No notice should be served under this section in respect of the working or using of apparatus for wireless telegraphy in contravention of this section in a ship...

and so on. This subsection is supposed to regulate apparatus which is apparatus used in cable broadcasts. It is puzzling why it should be necessary to include a reference to a ship in this because I cannot conceive of anyone in a ship likely to indulge in the propagation of cable broadcasts. That being so, it would seem more sensible to delete the reference to this subsection which relates only to ships.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: As the Senator will appreciate, I have not had much time to study this amendment which came in rather late and I should like to consider the effect of the amendment, in conjunction with the Senator's statement, between now and Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 20 agreed to.

Sections 21 and 22 agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments.

Comdt. Sanfey: The Minister would be prepared to proceed with the next stage of this Bill this day week.

Mr. Yeats: The problem that arises there is that it would be very difficult to frame amendments, particularly to section 13, without having the Official [1106] Report. I would be very interested to read the Minister's remarks on that and on one or two other sections with a view to considering amendments. It is impossible to do so in the absence of the Official Report, which I do not think will appear until this day week. I would suggest this day fortnight.

Comdt. Sanfey: In that case, Tuesday, 24th June.

Report Stage ordered for Tuesday, 24th June, 1975.

An Cathaoirleach: In accordance with the order made in relation to the Order of Business today the sitting will now be suspended until 7 p.m. when the Air Navigation and Transport Bill will be taken.

Business suspended at 5.30 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.