That is the new term for part-timers. Now, under head B we have a sum of £250 which was expended on the visit of our engineer and other officials to stations on the other side in order to enable them to acquaint themselves with the manner in which broadcasting stations are conducted over there. This will not be a recurring item. Under head C we have rent, light and heat as ordinary items. Head B is not a recurring item, except in so far as it deals with maintenance.
The cost of the station itself is shown here. The station is in the McKee Barracks, and the broadcasting headquarters, or studio, as it is usually termed, is in Great Denmark Street. The items set out here include furniture and equipment for both places. Under the heading relating to miscellaneous expenses, which amount to £850, we have such items as postage, stationery, and copyright royalties. Copyright royalties in broadcasting are not only difficult of arrangement, but are also expensive. We have also under this particular heading provision for weather reports and news services, and also such items as we may from time to time be called upon to provide in the way of extra musical equipment, gramophone records, and matters of that kind.
Now, it is intended that this sum of £14,385 shall cover the period up to the end of the financial year. Thereafter the broadcasting estimates will take their place in the annual estimates, and be discussed as separate items. It is not intended that these estimates should be included within the sphere of the Post Office proper. This, I believe, gives a sufficient explanation of the Vote which the Minister for Finance has just moved.
At this stage, seeing that the service is a new one, and that it has brought in its trail a very large amount of public interest, I take it that the Dáil will expect that a short review of the present position and of our future programme should be forthcoming. To begin with, I want to say that the staff at our broadcasting station here, as at present envisaged, is inadequate. Were it not for the substantial assistance rendered by the Secretary's Office of my Department, it would not have been possible to maintain the programme at all. Deputies will agree with me that the arrangement of a single night's programme of amusement is not in itself an easy task. Those who have had experience in that way will agree that the number of details is very large, indeed. But when we apply a programme of that kind to seven nights in the week, and 365 nights in the year, we will learn more fully the extent and magnitude of the task. I must say that I had no conception at the outset that broadcasting involved such a great variety of details and such intricate details as we have experienced since we opened the station.
I had hoped that it might have been possible to work this programme with a musical director working part time, and an announcer in a similar position, and with the other members of the staff as you see them here. But the two officers to whom I have referred particularly have been called upon to work something like twelve to fourteen hours a day up to the present, and both they and the station director have consented to continue their services only on the clear understanding given by me on more than one occasion, that immediate steps would be taken to provide an adequate staff for the station.
I think it right at this stage, in view of the possibility of ill-informed criticism being made later on in regard to the staffing of this station, to make it clear here that the staff that we have at present is not adequate for the purpose and that it must be increased, regardless of cost, if the station is to be continued. I had no doubt about that fact myself for some time past, since I became acquainted with the conditions in other broadcasting stations. I have taken pains to produce a list of those employed in a typical station at the other side—Manchester. It is not entirely a typical station, not typical to the extent of doing quite as much work as we do here, for the reason that Manchester provides a considerable part of its programme from London, and also carries through the main part of its clerical work from the central office of the British Broadcasting Station. Therefore, in this respect, Manchester is more favourably situated from the point of view of the work than we are here.
Here is a list of the staff at Manchester:—One station director, one secretary to the station director, two assistant directors, two publicity men, one commissionaire, one musical director, one orchestral conductor, twenty-five members of the orchestra, one lady organiser, one lady attendant for the lady artistes, four typists, one filing clerk, one property man, one doorman, one junior boy, one messenger, one senior maintenance engineer, three assistance maintenance engineers, one linesman, two men for outside broadcasting, one night clerk, and one night telephonist, making a total staff of 53, as against 20 in the Dublin office. I dare say that the staff in Manchester is not employed for the mere purpose of kicking their heels against the walls in the Manchester Radio Station, and there is some justification for the employment of these 53 people. Therefore, contemplating doing very much more work here, working as an independent unit, as we are in Dublin, the staff of 20 is entirely inadequate.
Now, I do not intend to tell the Dáil at this moment what extra staff we may require. We will work with the lowest possible margin, but I just want to give notice that we must necessarily increase the staff. We have one increase in anticipation, and that is the augmentation of our orchestra. At the present time we are confined to an orchestra of four. This orchestra comes into the programme in a week's time. It is engaged and practising at the moment, but it must be increased to eight in the very near future. That is the only immediate increase in the staff that I can outline to-night.
The programme that we have envisaged and that we intend to pursue for the future is not a great extension of the present programme, for the very simple reason that we cannot make any extension until we are more firmly placed with regard to staff. Therefore, we intend to extend slowly and to pick our steps carefully; in other words, we will not take on anything that we may have to recede from. At present we run through a programme of three hours per night—from 7.30 to 10.30—and two hours on Sunday nights—8.30 to 10.30. In the immediate future we mean to extend these hours by introducing an item which will involve some extra staff, both intern and extern, during the earlier part of the day, in the form of broadcasting market reports at, say, about 1.30. In certain continental countries this practice is followed, and I believe it to be the right one.
We believe that the middle of the day is the correct time to broadcast stock exchange reports. When I say stock exchange reports I mean that these reports will be confined to Irish stocks. We are satisfied that the middle of the day is the correct time to issue stock exchange and market reports to listeners-in. This will be the only immediate extension in regard to hours. Later on, we may do something with a school programme. We are discussing this matter with the Ministry of Education, and no doubt it will take time to materialise. But we are prepared to consider sympathetically a school programme in or about the same time as I have mentioned in regard to other reports. We may also do something later on in the way of a children's programme, perhaps at about 6 o'clock, as well as with a programme on domestic economy and similar matters relating to the ladies' sphere at a slightly later hour. Finally, in the next three or four months possibly the programme will be one hour in the middle of the day and from 6 to 10.30 at night. These latter items that I have mentioned are not yet decided on, and there is no need to go more fully into them, but within the next week or fortnight our programme will consist of a weather report at 7.30, to be supplemented, I hope, by news items with which I will deal later.
From 7.35 to 7.45 we intend to introduce lectures on various subjects—subjects that we deem suitable. From 7.45 to 8 will be devoted to language teaching. I am referring now to the week nights. We are arranging for Irish classes on three nights a week, and on the other three nights we propose to have the teaching of French, German and Spanish. From 8 to 10.30 will be confined solely to entertainment of the musical type. We intend to shut down at 10.30 punctually. We do not mean to keep our station open after that hour except under the most exceptional conditions. I do not know how that particular viewpoint meets with the wishes of the Dáil, but it is my own. I consider that it is a bad practice to take people off the normal track of living: to keep them up late at night and to disturb the usual routine of life unduly. I believe that 10.30 is late enough. On Sunday nights we will give those programmes which we have been giving during the last few Sunday nights—musical in the main, but occasionally we may very the programme with religious items.
That is the programme that we intend to pursue for some little time to come—until the bigger one which I outlined at an earlier stage will have matured. Preparations have been made for a re-lay from the other side. The British Broadcasting Company, which, I may say here, assisted the Dublin station to the utmost in getting under way, has come to an agreement with us whereby we are enabled to relay at any time that we choose. We have therefore decided for a bi-weekly relay of those items which we, in our judgment, consider desirable, and that will proceed on and from next week. The cost of this variation is not infinitesimal. It is cheap from the point of view of the British Broadcasting Company. I must say that they have treated us very decently, but, nevertheless, with our resources it is expensive enough. It will cost us something in the nature of £14 or £15 an hour. I just mention this figure to warn people who speak lightly of extending jazz music and entertainment of that kind to this side: that every hour which we transmit from the other side involves a sum such as I have mentioned, namely, anything in the region of £15 an hour. Not only will we re-lay from Daventry, but also from Belfast, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, or any place where we shall find a suitable programme. We hope, also, that those stations may from time to time take suitable programmes from us which we intend to put up. I believe they will. An interchange of programme between countries has become quite a common thing.
The return in licence fees to date has not been satisfactory. Up to the 31st of December last we had received in the twenty-six counties 2,900 licence fees, and in the interval up to yesterday we received an additional 1,300 from the Dublin area. We have not had a return from other parts of the country yet. I propose to get this return monthly. I understand we cannot get it more frequently, because of the difficulty of collection, seeing that every small Post Office issues licences. The total response in the Dublin area during the present month amounts to 1,300 licences. What part of the total this is I leave to the imagination of Deputies.