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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 28 Jan 1926

Vol. 14 No. 3


I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £14,385 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ended 31st March, 1926, for the salaries, cost of erection of station, and other expenses in connection with wireless broadcasting.

I may say, in moving this Estimate, that in view of the fact that a Dáil Committee recommended the establishment of a broadcasting station, and that the report of that Committee was accepted by the Dáil, we thought it not improper to incur the fairly considerable expenditure that has already been incurred out of the Contingency Fund. In the ordinary way, in connection with a new service like this, expenditure ought not to be incurred until the Dáil actually votes an esimate; but as decisions were not arrived until the Dáil had risen for the Summer Recess, it was decided, in view of the particular circumstances existing, to proceed with the erection of a station. When the Dáil did meet in November the boundary crisis and other matters were upon us and the supplementary estimates were delayed until the present time.

The estimate which has been moved by the Minister for Finance comes under four headings. The first deals with salaries, wages and allowances—£4,800. This item may be sub-divided into two parts. The first, £1,545, covers the running cost of the station, and the remainder pays artists, not only locally, but elsewhere, wherever we should find it necessary to employ them. The staff employed in the station is set forth here; it numbers twenty. Two of these have not yet been selected. I refer to the assistant director and woman organiser. These posts are advertised at the moment and will be filled, I hope, within a week or so. When these posts are filled we will have eighteen full-time employees and two part-timers. The part-time officials are the musical director and the announcer. They have been employed as part-time officials, but in reality they work something like twelve or fourteen hours a day.

Is that all?

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.

What would this represent in money?

One pound each.

What is the total income?


£2,900 covered last year; £1,300 covers Dublin area for the present month.

Was there any expenditure set off against that £2,900?

No, we gave no value for it; other people did. So much for licences——

The Minister mentioned £2,900 for last year. How much of that is income for this year?

£2,900 will continue in effective operation up to the end of the financial year, after which we must have renewals.

You have £1,300, in addition, and that gives the figure £4,200 mentioned by Deputy Wilson.

Yes. It is clear there are a great many citizens of this country who are too busy to find time to pay broadcasting licences. In order to remind them of their duty in that respect a Bill is being introduced next month that I think will not only cover licences but a variety of other questions dealing with broadcasting. The Bill is in course of preparation now.

More than one correspondent has complained that the wave length of 390, secured by Dublin broadcasting station could be improved on or is not the best. Well it is clear that it was our duty to get the best position we could in the overcrowded wave band. There are in Europe, roughly, 165 broadcasting stations with a wave band of 200 to 500, allotted by the various governments. They can only accommodate, without interference, 150 stations. We have gone beyond the limit now and the position is becoming more serious every day—more serious with new stations, and it is impossible for any station coming along at this stage to get a free space. We had to choose that position which we thought most free, and we satisfied ourselves that we have got as good a position as was available. I see no hope of any deviation from that until such time as the possibility of broadcasting comes under review by the governments of the world, and this is foreshadowed in a convention which is likely to take place at Washington in the fall, and when this convention comes off it is thought that steps will be taken to eliminate many of the smaller stations and make way for free play for the existing ones or the remaining ones.

Deputies will expect to hear something of the future developments of what we have in mind with regard to that. There are two courses which we could follow here. One is the erection of a big central station of the Daventry type costing anything up to £60,000 or £70,000 for erection, and involving the State in an annual engineering maintenance expenditure of something like £25,000. A station of this kind has an effective range for crystal sets of 75 miles; therefore, such a station should be in the centre of the country obviously. We stand in a peculiar position here. The bulk of our population is along the coast, and therefore the bulk of the population would be excluded from this range, or rather a big percentage of the urban population would be excluded from the range of a station of this kind. Apart altogether from the cost, which is prohibitive, it would mean the erection of a power station and a very heavy outlay in other directions, yet we would still find a considerable portion of our people outside the crystal range.

There is another alternative which may, or may not, be within our reach in the near future, that of a medium power station, a station costing perhaps three or four times that which the Dublin station costs, but nevertheless taking with it an annual engineering outlay of £20,000, and that would only have an effective crystal range of about 50 miles. A station of this kind, if science advances as some people believe it will, will be of the type known as a low-power-short-wave station. You will note that a crystal range is very much more effective than a range provided by a station like ours, but not quite as effective as that provided by Daventry. The argument against a station of that kind, and we would require two or three to bring the whole country into the crystal distance, is initial expense and annual maintenance. The other alternative and the one we are inclined to follow, and, I think, must follow, is the development of the Dublin station. This station, as you may observe, cost in erection between £5,000 and £6,000, and with the studio it costs something over £7,000.

The initial outlay in this case is not very much, and the annual engineering cost will not be very heavy. These two factors rather incline us to the belief that we will be well-advised to take that course. We are reluctant naturally to ask the State to plunge its money into a venture which may change radically within a short time. Broadcasting is changing from day to day. If the Minister for Finance takes this view and is prepared to spend more money on broadcasting, I intend asking him to sanction a sum similar to that sanctioned for the Dublin station and expend that on the erection of a station in Cork.

Why not in Limerick?

Why not in Waterford?

Of course we are a very considerable people down there and a very important people. The population of Cork City and County, covered by a crystal range in this case, is something like 200,000. Of course we are concerned with the question of the return in licence fees. If this line of development were pursued it would ultimately happen that we would have a third station somewhere in the West, possibly in Galway, and a fourth in the North-West. The four stations would fairly adequately cover the country and cover it sufficiently for the depth of our purse. At any rate for the moment we have only in contemplation the erection of a second station, and as I said in this matter of broadcasting we are going to move cautiously and see what the public return in the way of willingness to pay up for value received is going to be.

I mentioned that we had in view the production of a news item, of five minutes duration or thereabouts. A news item is a very interesting one in broadcasting and is keenly looked forward to even by people who take little or no interest in music or even lectures. Most people like to get the news of the day. In this connection we have been in negotiation with representatives of the Dublin newspapers during the past few months. Certain proposals have been put up to that body to provide us with not only Irish but an international review somewhat similar to that which is provided by the British Broadcasting Company. We find, however, that our proposals have not been acceptable to either the British news agencies or to the Dublin Press. As a matter of fact, I fear that the restrictions which the latter body wishes to impose on us as a preliminary to the formulation of any such news scheme are out of the question. We cannot accept them. There is no need to mention these terms, but they so restrict our field of activity that I fear they stand very little prospect of endorsement by the House judging from the views set forth on this particular question not only by the Committee that considered broadcasting but by the recent Committee in England. It therefore follows that we have got to face elsewhere for a news programme. I am satisfied that the material is available, and it should not surprise me if that material were likely to be an improvement on that secured from the British Broadcasting Agency at the present time. More than that, with regard to the Press, I do not intend to say except that I regret that we have not been able to secure a news service from the Dublin newspapers or from the British news agencies. I see no prospect whatever of doing so in the future within the terms set forth by these bodies.

There is only one other item. I am satisfied that the programmes we have produced up to now are reasonably good. It is difficult to satisfy everybody with regard to a programme. That ideal has yet to be attained in any country. I do not believe that it will ever be attained in any country. Most people that I meet seem to hold different views. It is very hard to meet two people who hold the same views in regard to musical affairs. One person wants all music; another wants half lectures and half music; another wants no lectures at all; a fourth wants no music at all; a fifth thinks that the scales should be weighed in favour of one item against another; a sixth thinks the opposite. If anybody believes that it is possible to satisfy the general public in regard to a broadcasting programme I think he will find himself deceived from the mere fact that an old established institution like the British Broadcasting Company has not been able to satisfy general public requirements.

The British Broadcasting Company is a very well managed and a very efficient institution. Some of you will remember that within the last month certain English journals opened their columns to a criticism of its programmes, and one paper in particular got no less than 400 protests in one day against the British broadcasting programme. Personally, I believe the British broadcasting programme is good. I have been listening to it for the past six months, and my own untutored judgment convinces me that it is a very good programme. Yet that very able institution has failed to satisfy its listeners. Now, I do not hold here that we have satisfied everybody, that we are going to satisfy everybody, or that we intend to try to satisfy everybody, but I am satisfied that we have given a reasonably good programme, and I am gratified to know that great numbers of people in other countries have taken the trouble to show their appreciation of that programme. Whether in time, when we can be more firmly established and the machine is running more smoothly, we will be able to improve, I cannot say. That is a matter for the future, but I am satisfied that we have done reasonably well.

I think that the very full, frank and interesting statement that the Minister has made has almost disarmed criticism. I think the whole Dáil is grateful to him for setting forth so clearly and at such length the position in regard to broadcasting. Nevertheless, some criticism must come, because it is a natural consequence of the State undertaking a service of this character that criticism is expected to be made here. Letters which in England drop into the letter-box of the B.B.C., or go into the offices of the newspapers, have in many cases come to Deputies here and they have to put their views forward. I hope in everything I say that the Minister will see that it is intended to be a friendly, constructive criticism, making due allowance for all the trouble that must be encountered in establishing a service of this kind for the first time.

I would like to emphasise the fact that I am speaking from the point of view of the user of a crystal set, costing 8s. 6d., installed by a schoolboy at a distance of ten miles from the broadcasting station. I know that the Minister will suspect that I have a hankering for getting Daventry or 2LO. That is not the case. I am quite satisfied with Dublin, and in one respect I can whole-heartedly praise Dublin, and that is in the transmission. My little weak set does not pick up those great invisible European stations that appear to interfere with other people. My only interference is the Morse on the mail-boats or the wind over the house, but when these are not operating I think the transmission is admirable. I get results ten miles from 2RN every night, and I can hear every musical piece if the artist is competent. I think the Minister is to be whole-heartedly applauded for that.

Now I come to the entertainment itself. The Minister said it was reasonably good. I accept that. It is as good as we can reasonably expect. Some of the criticisms that have been made are unreasonable, such as that we ought to have a first-class symphony orchestra. Unfortunately Dublin does not posses one, and except on the very rare occasions that a first-class symphony orchestra visits the city there is none. It is a very great loss to us that we have not one. I hope that the Minister will be able to supplement that lack, so far as it is possible. But while admitting that the programme maintained up to the present is reasonably good, I do not think it is so good that it could not be improved, and I want to put forward, in what I hope the Minister will understand is an entirely friendly spirit, one or two criticisms of the programmes that have been provided. The main criticism is that the type of the entertainment every night is practically the same. It is what you might call the ballad concert. Sometimes it is a very good balled concert, but every evening you look at the programme, with very few exceptions, you will see that a gentleman is to sing a couple of songs; Clery's Trio, which is doing most excellent work, will play orchestral selections; a lady will sing a few songs, and an instrumental soloist will perform, sometimes on the banjo and sometimes on the piano. Then a humourist will contribute, and I am afraid that some humourists have come to the conclusion, as was said, that as any old story will do for a political meeting, so any story, however old, will do for the broadcasting. I do not want it to be thought that 2RN is going to be renowned for its crop of chestnuts.

That is one half of the programme; the other half is a repetition, the same lady and gentleman and the same instrumental trio. That is the type night after night. People are developing a tendency to look at the programme, say "the same thing over and over again," and give up using their wireless. One danger in that stereotyped form of programme is that the number of songs that may be used is very limited. The average artist has only a comparatively small repertoire, and it ranges over most popular songs. I think I have frightened "Danny Boy" off the wireless; it has not even appeared under the title of the "Londonderry Air," but we had a song called "The Ballynure Ballad" last Friday and we had it last Saturday as well. It is a mistake to have the one song two nights running, even if sung by two different artistes and even if sung well. But that mistake is inherent in having one particular type of artist and one particular type of song, the ballad type of artist and the balled type of song.

Another point upon which I would criticise very gently is that broadcasting is in a sense an art in itself. A very good singer may be comparatively inefficient at broadcasting, just as a very good speaker may be hopeless at broadcasting. I do not think enough of recourse has been had to persons resident in Dublin, or the neighbourhood, who have had broadcasting experience. I know that one of my constituents was engaged by the B.B.C. to give a humorous talk some time ago, and I gather he was a success, because they re-engaged him, but I have not seen his name in the 2 RN programmes. Last week another constituent of mine, another humorous artist and an author of some note, talked for the B.B.C. in Belfast. He lives and carries on his business a great deal nearer to Dublin than to Belfast—at Skerries—but I do not think he has been approached by 2 RN. to supply humour here. A further suggestion I put forward to the Minister is that he should have special nights. The B.B.C. has done a great deal by concentrating on one subject on a particular night—an operatic night, and so on. Last week, or the week before, I saw that they had a fox-hunting night in Belfast. There is no pack of hounds nearer Belfast than fifty miles. The nearest is in the constituency of the Minister for Defence. Surely if they could have that in Belfast we might have something of the kind in Dublin. Then I think we should have local nights, nights devoted to certain parts of the country. Why should we not have a Tirconnail night, starting with "O'Donnell Abu" and winding up with a few words from Deputy White. I know that that does not fit in with the Minister's view. The Minister wants to have the talk first and the music last, but I think in this case it might be better to have the music first and the talk last. I know it would be a difficult thing to do, but I think a little specialisation of that kind would be very valuable.

At present I think we are drawing artists from too small a field, and that, I think, is inevitable when you have to rely on a couple of men—the Musical Director and a few others. I am not criticising them, but they cannot have as wide a knowledge of all the people who are likely to give satisfactory performances as a larger body would have. I asked the Minister yesterday about setting up a Consultative Committee to select programmes, and he said that it was intended to make provision for that in a Bill he was bringing in. That Bill will probably not become law for a couple of months, but I see no reason why he should wait for it. Such a consultative body would not be paid, and there would be no need for it to go on the Estimates at all. If it were composed of people resident in Dublin, I do not think that there would even be a charge for travelling expenses. I would suggest that the Minister should try at once to get such a voluntary body, a body such as the Minister for Fisheries has set up in connection with his Department, to consult in regard to these programmes. In addition to these he mentioned yesterday, representatives of the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture and the Ministry of Education, I suggest, with them, representatives of the Universities, a representative of the Gaelic League, a representative of the Royal Dublin Society, as that body has great experience in connection with lectures and concerts, and also one or two individuals who are well-known for their interest in musical matters. On a previous occasion I suggested the names of Colonel Brase and Dr. Larchet, both of whom would give us a wider view of music, and possibly a greater knowledge about people who could be approached to broadcast. A large number of people are unwilling to send in appli-applications for appointment, but are willing to help the station. I know one friend of mine, a Fellow of Trinity College, one of the greatest authorities in the British Islands on Spain, and an accomplished musician, told me he would be glad to give a talk of a quarter of an hour on Spanish music, illustrating it on the violin. I think that would be of a high educational value. You will not get hold of those people by putting an advertisement in the paper. You want a central body who would beat up recruits. I should be quite willing to help the Minister myself if my voice recovered, but at present it would be only a fiasco. The Minister does not need to wait for a Bill giving him statutory authority for an advisory body of this kind. He should not wait until the Bill is law, but should set up a committee at once. It could not be done in a day, but I believe if you had this committee working by the end of next month it would do a great deal to provide better entertainment, stimulate interest in the station, and induce people to take out their licences.

I was hoping the Minister would give us a little more information than that which he has given. Roughly estimated, the figures I extracted are that the running costs of the broadcasting station would be £25,000 a year.

About £30,000.

About £30,000 a year. Up to now the number of licences issued is 1,300 for this year, and assuming that all that had licences before renewed them, you will have 4,200 licences. As has been made evident for quite a long time, revenue will be almost wholly from crystal sets, and the obvious question that arises is whether the £1 charged for the poor music is, to any degree, prohibitive, Would there be greater income from a smaller charge than there is from the present £1 a year or alternatively if the £1 a year has to be maintained could not easy methods of payment be adopted? I think, as a matter of practice, the boy or girl who finds himself or herself interested in wireless even from the experimental side is debarred from exercising their ingenuity. It costs 10/- for their set, wiring and so on. In addition they have to pay £1 for a licence. If they could pay that £1 in small instalments it would help them, or if it were a smaller sum it would mean an additional annual revenue from the crystal set user.

That directs attention at once to the project in regard to Cork. If there is nearly half the population in the Cork area that is in the Dublin area, capable of receiving on a crystal set, then we might look for three-fourths of the Dublin income in regard to Cork inasmuch as Cork is going to excel in the spending of money for useful purposes educational and entertaining. I should like to know what would be the running cost of Cork Station, for presumably there the programme would be really from Dublin in the main, and the cost of the programme would not enter into the Cork Station. If you are going to increase the income by 50 per cent. I anticipate that the increased running cost would not be anything like 50 per cent. Consequently there is a distinct advantage in hurrying on with the Cork proposal.

I am not an authority on this business. I have spent a few evenings since the new year listening, and I must say I have been very pleased indeed. I said to a friend the other day that I wished the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs would make his telephones as clearly heard as his wireless. That perhaps is an ideal unattainable, but certainly the reception is very good within a few miles of the station. I, too, think with Deputy Cooper that there is too much sameness in the programme, and one wonders whether the Minister and his assistants are assuming that the hearers are only occasional hearers, say, one night a week or that they listen in two or three nights a week. If the latter, they are listening to the same concert, and people do not attend similar concerts two or three nights a week. The suggestion Deputy Cooper made with regard to specialisation and giving greater variety is good. I hope it will be considered and, so far as practicable, be carried out.

I notice that there was a half-hour of jazz at the end of the programme but that for a night or two it has been dropped. I do not know the meaning of it, or why it was included at all, unless to enable people to dance in their own homes, but they hardly get time enough for that. I find by referring to the programmes for Great Britain that for the benefit of those who like that sort of thing two hours are generally given. Half an hour of that particular kind of rhythm would not give dancers an opportunity of starting. I am glad to see it has been abolished or, at least, it has been dropped recently. I am not satisfied with the Minister's emphatic statement that everybody has to be in bed at ten-thirty. After all, there is no compulsion on anybody to listen in, and I think ten-thirty is unnecessarily early if there is anything to be heard. I imagine that a later hour would satisfy a larger number of people, especially those who are late in arriving home. I am sure a number of Deputies would like to listen in for half an hour when they arrive home, but when the Dáil sits until 10.30 p.m. that of course is not possible. I think the experiment, so far as it has gone, has been very successful from the station side. I believe that the education in taste has, on the whole, been, and will be, good. I believe that there are more listeners-in to good music and to good concerts than one would get at ordinary entertainments throughout the city. I think that those who have been introduced to listening-in have had a greater variety of pleasant, delightful and educative music than they would ordinarily have if this method had not been in operation. From that point of view alone I think it is worthy of commendation. I hope that the idea of lectures will be extended, but not confined to the ten minutes outlined by the Minister. I do not know how far a language lesson could be given in ten minutes.

Fifteen minutes.

I thought you said from 7.35 to 7.45.

No, 7.45 to 8.

The proposals in the early stages were based on the assumption that about £10,000 would be required in the first year. I find I am correct. I am not blaming anybody for not having made a more accurate estimate, but I think the necessity for obtaining a very much larger number of licence fees justifies the Minister in considering how far the present fee is detrimental to the income. I know that he is considering the question as to whether the amount of the licence fee prevents a larger number paying for licences. It would be better to have a generous response in regard to that than to have a considerable number of prosecutions, and, if prosecutions cannot be entered into until the new Bill is enacted, that may be a considerable time. I think we ought to encourage young people to interest themselves in wireless reception and broadcasting, and I think that could be done if there were some modification in regard to crystal sets.

I am sorry that my limitations in regard to broadcasting are such that I am unable to follow the debate. I understand, however, that there is going to be a good deal of money spent on broadcasting, and I would suggest to the Minister that some of that money be spent on extending the telephone in my town, where we can get on without broadcasting. That would be a much more sensible speculation than broadcasting. Even though I may be a little out of order in mentioning this, I hope the Minister will take a note of it. I hope he will consider my suggestion with all earnestness as we have long been advocating an extension of the telephone to Carndonagh.

Though the last Deputy did not add very much to the interesting debate we have had on the subject of broadcasting, he touched on an aspect of the question, possibly in his innocence, that would appeal to a great number. That aspect is this: Broadcasting is going to cost the taxpayers in the State so far as one can judge, from particulars given, something in the region of £30,000 per annum. That money will have to be provided by all taxpayers in the State in order to give privileges to a comparatively few of those known as "listeners-in." That is an aspect of the question which I think the Minister would be wise to anticipate. Naturally if taxpayers are taxed, like all the rest of the community, they will want to get some value for it. If they are going to pay this considerable sum for the benefit of the few, I think it is wise to anticipate a considerable volume of protest. I agree with the Minister that in setting up a station it ought to be comparable from every point of view with the other station. In other words, if we are going to set up broadcasting let us not spoil it from any point of view for want of funds. That appears to me to be the difficulty—to do that and still meet the protest that will accrue. The only way that I see of surmounting that difficulty is by trying to encourage a very much larger number of licensees than we have at present. I do not know what campaign the Minister has in view in that particular direction, but it appears to me that very considerable effort will have to be made by his Department in order to try and bridge the large gulf that exists between a maximum income of £4,200 and a liability of £30,000 per annum. In that connection it appears to me that a very important question of policy will arise. The Minister has informed us that he has under consideration the setting up of four broadcasting stations in the Free State. The point that immediately occurs to one, who is to a large extent a novice in these matters, is whether four stations or one station would be advisable. If every area is going to have a multiplicity of stations, as outlined by the Minister, the problem of wave-lengths is going to become very serious. Not alone will it be a problem for running stations but it will be very serious for licensees getting attached to various stations—a problem which is not a very small one at the moment. Therefore, before we incur any expense in setting up stations or deciding as to what is to be the capability of the stations, I think that particular aspect of the question ought to have very serious consideration— that is, whether the Free State is to have a number of small stations or one very efficient station which will serve the whole area.

In the solution of that problem I think the Minister would be well advised to consult with all the different authorities on this question, and then try and give us the benefit of their united advice, in order to guide us as to the future of broadcasting in the Free State. I agree with Deputies who have already spoken that the Minister has given us a very full report on this resolution. I would like to ask the Minister if, instead of running the station as it is now run, it was run in connection with stations of the British Broadcasting Company, such as Belfast, would any advantage accrue? Or would it be better to run the station as a separate entity? In coming to a conclusion on that point, could the Minister give any information as to the cost, supposing the station was run the same as the Belfast station, in connection with the British Broadcasting Company? There could be an arrangement whereby the programme would be one specified by the Committee or by the direction staff. In order to judge the outlay of £30,000 yearly it would be well if the Minister could give information which enables Deputies to see the wisdom or otherwise of expending such a large sum immediately. As the Minister pointed out, broadcasting might be up-to-date to-day—much of which is expensive—may have to be scrapped within the next two or three years owing to developments. That has occurred in connection with other industries. In running this station ourselves we have to bear the brunt of all the expenditure. Before undertaking that liability it would be well if we had some idea of what the cost of it would be if we were to co-operate the same as other stations with the British Broadcasting Company.

The point that strikes me about the statement made by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs is similar to that to which Deputy Good hes referred. According to the figures given by the Minister, this enterprise will cost the taxpayer approximately £26,000 yearly. I know that the Oireachtas has committed us to the acceptance of a broadcasting station under the control of the Post Office authorities. At the same time I believe there will be a good deal of dissatisfaction amongst the people of the country generally if, within a reasonable time, it is found that broadcasting is not at least paying its way. Matters of this kind, which are run by a Government Department, are hampered and have difficulties which an enterprise of a similar kind in the hands of private individuals would not have. A Government Department cannot advertise the service it is prepared to give in the same way as private concerns can. I urge the Minister to make every effort to make broadcasting a paying proposition.

As one who knows very little about the technical aspect of broadcasting, but who takes a considerable interest in its possible development, particularly when applied to rural communities, it seems to me that the people who are getting the advantage of broadcasting are those who want it least, the people of the cities and towns. The people in the cities and towns have already a multiplicity of entertainments provided for them. On the other hand, people in the rural areas are those who really want broadcasting. If I understand what is happening now, people with crystal sets can get very little advantage from the present arrangement. I think when the Minister comes to decide on what particular power station he is going to use, that is a question that should be seriously considered, and whether it would not be worth while to take a big jump by providing a high-power broadcasting station which would give the people in the country districts an opportunity of availing of broadcasting by means of crystal sets. I believe there are great possibilities in this enterprise if they can be realised. Every effort should be made to bring its advantages to the notice of people in rural districts. One of the greatest problems that has to be faced in those districts, is the provision of entertainment during the long winter nights. In recent years the people have broken out of bounds and insisted on getting entertainment. As a result, dancing goes on night after night. If you take up a local newspaper now you find announcement of dances prominently advertised. I think that is the result of modern development, but I think the desire for entertainment and pleasure might be availed of to lead the people along more cultured lines, and that the use of wireless might contribute in a way that would be desirable to the education of people living in rural areas.

I do not suggest to the Minister that he should attempt to provide programmes that would be of a definitely heavy or cultural description, but he might, as he is doing now, intersperse entertaining items of jazz and songs with lectures which would be of advantage and be instructive to those people. If the Minister accepts the suggestion made by Deputy Cooper, and sets up an Advisory Committee, he should see that it is not predominately representative of the towns and cities, but that people who know the kind of instruction that would be suitable for the country districts, should also be on it. I emphasise the necessity of bringing the advantages of broadcasting before rural communities. To a large extent the making of this proposition a paying one will depend on how it is taken up by people in the country. If I remember aright, the licence fee to be charged for halls is £5.

I think the charge might be an elastic one. That amount is too much. Any development which will take place in this matter in rural districts will take place largely in the villages and small towns. I think that village halls should be encouraged to get wireless sets so as to bring the people together where they could spend a few pleasant hours "listening-in." I think a licence fee of £5 is too high at the commencement for village halls. I cannot suggest a way out, or how the Minister could differentiate between a town where £5 might be charged and a village where a good deal less should be charged.

I would like to get some more information from the Minister about the circulation of market reports. It appears to me that the hours suggested are not suitable. I may be wrong. Probably it is the experience in other countries that the hours are suitable.

resumed the Chair.

From the point of view of the farmer, I am inclined to think that very few farmers will be able to listen in at 1.30 to receive market reports and I would suggest that these reports might be circulated during the night programme. I would like to know, in connection with these reports, whether the Minister refers to agricultural market reports—reports of fairs and markets and the prices of agricultural produce across the Channel. Incidentally, I think it might be a mistake to confine stock market reports to the Dublin stock markets. There is no reason why transactions in the outside markets, which really control the Dublin markets, should not be reported when the other reports are being broadcasted.

I wonder what proportion of those who are using reception sets within the crystal radius of the city are included in the 1,300 who, the Minister told us, had paid their licence fees. I believe the number would be only a very small fraction. I do not at all share the fears expressed by some of the Deputies, that we have embarked upon a scheme which is going to cost us a large sum of money. I do not go so far as to say that immediately, or even in two or three years, the scheme is going to pay for itself. Undoubtedly it will cost money at the start, but I am rather optimistic as to the extent to which it will ultimately be a real feature in the life of the country. I agree with Deputy Heffernan to a considerable extent in thinking that it is in the country districts the value of this broadcasting, as a feature affecting the social life of the country, is going to be of importance. I think it would be worth his while to make inquiries for himself as to the comparatively small expense at which a resident within 25 or 50 miles radius of Dublin could equip himself with a single valve or two valve set. With comparatively small expense, he could equip himself with a set which would enable him to get the benefit of the programmes broadcasted from here. He would be surprised at the small expenditure which would effect this.

I do not at all accept Deputy Heffernan's figures regarding this scheme being an immediate burden on the country of something like £36,000 a year. It is remarkable how close the estimates furnished to the Committee on Broadcasting have come to the actual expenditure, so far. My recollection is that the initial cost was estimated at £8,000 and the cost of running at £10,000 per year. The figure of £8,000 has not been quite reached. The figure of £10,000 a year is apparently going to be exceeded. But £6,000 added to £8,000 does not represent the annual cost; neither does it give you the annual cost if you multiply by four. Perhaps the Minister would tell us, in replying, what, at the present rate, the annual cost would be. It would seem to be something like £12,000 a year. As against that £12,000 a year considerable sum will be realised in licence fees as soon as citizens realise their duty to pay for the entertainment they are getting, and as soon as the Bill the Minister has foreshadowed is put through.

The Deputy has, I think, missed the point the Minister made. When I suggested that the present cost was at the rate of £26,000 a year, he said it would be nearer £30,000 a year.

That is so.

I did not understand the Minister to say that he expected the expenses to run up quickly to £36,000 a year. Perhaps the Minister will correct me if I am wrong.

I expect the running of the Dublin Station will be between £25,000 and £30,000. Closer than that I cannot go.

I did not hear the Minister correctly. I thought the £30,000 he mentioned covered the cost of running the Cork and Dublin Stations. What I said must, therefore, be partially altered. I was taking the figure at £12,000. I will take the figure at £25,000 for Dublin. I think a considerable part of that will be met by licence fees coming from the holders of crystal sets within the immediate neighbourhood of Dublin. Of course, the extent to which that expense will be met will depend upon the extent to which the Station makes itself a success. Further, it will depend upon the extent to which people living within a radius of 50 miles of Dublin get to know the value offered by the Station—apart from amusement, the general educational value and, apart from that, the profit they can make from the information that will be forthcoming from the Station. Even though the cost is going to be something like £20,000 or £30,000 a year, I do not think we will have to wait very long in order that a considerable part of that should be forthcoming from licence fees from persons in the area served even by a single station. At the same time, we should realise that even if the station does cost something, we are getting a great deal for it and we are getting something that will be of real value to the country.

I do not propose to enter into any criticism of this station at present. I think it is too early. I think Deputy Cooper's remarks and Deputy Johnson's remarks were very valuable and that they have offered useful suggestions to the Minister. I made it a point to inform myself as to remarks which are made about the station in other places—across the water and elsewhere.

I find that the general verdict seems to be that the station has done exceedingly well for a commencement and a very considerable success is looked for from the Dublin station. I anticipate that will be the result. Although the Minister said that you cannot expect to get anything like perfection or to satisfy everybody, at the start particularly, I do think that we may congratulate him on the way the station has behaved for the first month of its life. I think Dublin people in the main are pleased with it. I know that in other places they think it compares very favourably indeed with many other stations at the corresponding period of their careers.

I think the Minister would do well to adopt Deputy Cooper's suggestion and get a committee to assist him with as much speed as possible. I think he will find there will be many ready to give a helping hand in that way and that many societies will be able to give him valuable help. I agree very largely indeed with most of what the Minister said when he outlined the way in which he hopes to develop the station. I think he is to be congratulated on the very clear way in which he made his statement in reference to this estimate.

I appreciate very much the commendations of Deputy Thrift with regard to the working of the station. It may be opportune to mention here that commendations of a similar character have already reached us from those who have years of successful experience of working stations in other countries. I wish to refer particularly to a communication which I received from the managing director of the British Broadcasting Station in which he said he was agreeably surprised at the very successful strides made by the Dublin station, and mentioned that they far exceeded the anticipations of himself and his colleagues.

I am just as anxious as Deputy Cooper to extend operations. I am equally aware of the necessity of stretching out in a variety of directions. As I said at the start, our difficulty is shortage of staff. I am glad the Minister for Finance is here now when I mention that. We try to run the station with skeleton material, and we cannot do it. We are merely working from day to day. To talk of great variety, to think out necessary schemes, to get the imagination in full play, is out of the question. Until such time as we have established a staff that will enable us to strike out in new directions, we will not be able to do anything.

I hope the Minister is not contemplating letting his imagination have full play.

I have some imagination. I do not say I am going to apply it to broadcasting. Perhaps after a time I may switch it on; I hope to do so later. Without doubt, relaying a programme from the B.B.C. stations will assist us. It will give us time to look around and develop those ideas which we hold in common with Deputy Cooper.

Deputy Good thinks we ought to review our policy and see if it would not be advisable, in the interests of economy, to undo what we have done. I have no regrets for what we have done. I believe that when a Bill, which I hope the Dáil will pass within the next six weeks, is in operation, quite a considerable number of people who have not yet awakened to the necessity of paying for the goods which are nightly delivered, will change their viewpoint, and I believe the gentle pressure which we may be able to bring to bear on them through that Bill will induce them to do so. The immediate financial results may not be on all fours with what we have been discussing. I will not be surprised if we lose for the first year or two. I do not think any of us anticipated that in a sparsely populated country, when we strike out on a large broadcasting programme, we would be able to make it pay at once. I do not think anybody ever held that view. I am satisfied that within two years the enterprise will pay its way. I have no sympathy with the proposal put forward by Deputy Good. It is quite as important for a nation to have within its border its own broadcasting service as its own Press. It may in time be more important; nobody knows. It is vital, in my opinion, for the State to keep complete control of anything pertaining to this important medium of communication.

I feel with Deputy Heffernan that it will be a bright day for the rural population when we are able to reach them with a cheap service. I am not sanguine that we will be able to cover the whole country. The programme which I outlined to-night makes a decent effort in that direction. Even in England, with all their stations— they have got twenty—I should say that at least one-fourth of the people are outside the radius of the crystal sets. Scotland has only three stations, and it must be even harder hit in this respect. I do not see either that we have any prospect of ultimately covering the whole ground, desirable as it might be. I should mention here, for the information of any Deputies who may not have made a study of this subject, that the crystal set has a range of 25 miles with a station of the strength of 2R.N. A one-valve set extends to 50 miles. A one-valve set is comparatively cheap, possibly £10. A two-valve set may be purchased for anything in the neighbourhood of £20, and it extends to 75 or 80 miles. Now you will find if you begin to examine these figures, that most people will be able to get the Irish station with a one-valve set, and that is not expensive.

I am not prepared to alter my opinion in regard to the time of issuing market reports. If the farmer wishes to avail of the market on the following morning, if he is sending his corn, cattle or pigs to the market, it is very little use telling him at 8 o'clock at night that the price was so-and-so. There is no chance of his preparing for the market at that hour. He requires to be told and to get reasonable notice during the day. The same applies, also, with regard to the Stock Exchange reports. Most people interested in these can get very full details from the evening papers. Those who desire to buy or sell stocks in the latter part of the market do so about 3 o'clock. In European countries, and amongst European people who have given consideration to this subject, the hour has been fixed at 1.30, and I think that is good enough for us. We would be well advised to follow the example of people who have thought the matter out and have discussed it with their nationals and with their listeners-in.

I see no objection to the early setting up of an advisory committee, none whatever, but I am not quite so enthusiastic about the idea as Deputy Cooper. It might happen that a committee of this kind would very seriously impede the work of the station. It might consist of a dozen, and the station may have to face a dozen extra obstacles every day.

Not every day; every week.

Now, my experience in life is that the one-man show and the one-man direction usually beats the combination.

Cumann na nGaedheal.

If you want success you must have a central directing force without interference from a party of people who may choose to intrude their particular ideas. It may happen that in extending this experiment to our system here, we may be taking a step in the wrong direction, and one that may have to be discontinued. It has not been tried anywhere else so far as I am aware. I am, however, prepared to try it, because there are so many apparently well informed backers for the idea and I am not prepared to insist on my own ideas prevailing. But I do say again that I do not look upon it enthusiastically, nor do those in charge of the station display any enthusiasm for it; they fear the idea.

Vote put and agreed to.

It has been suggested to me that it would perhaps be more convenient if we took up no other estimate to-night. I accordingly move the adjournment of the Dáil until Wednesday next.

Question put and agreed to.
The Dáil adjourned at 7.45 until 3 o'clock on Wednesday, 3rd February.