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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 12 Apr 1934

Vol. 51 No. 13

In Committee on Finance. - Vote 64—Wireless Broadcasting.

I move:—

Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £25,796 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1935, chun na d'Tuarastal agus na gCostaisí eile a bhaineann le Fóirleatha Nea-shrangach (Uimh. 45 de 1926).

That a sum not exceeding £25,796 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1935, for the Salaries and other Expenses in connection with Wireless Broadcasting (No. 45 of 1926).

The amount of the Estimate for the broadcasting service for the year 1934-35 is £38,796 as compared with £43,530 for 1933-34. That is a decrease of £4,734, due mainly to the cost of erection of the high-power station having been cleared last year.

The revenue from wirless receiving licences last year amounted to approximately £26,000, and from fees for advertisments and miscellaneous receipts about £22,000. The direct expenditure on the broadcasting service out of all votes last year amounted to about £53,230, including £4,000 for the completion of the high-power station. The number of wireless receiving licences issued last year was 50,500 representing an increase of 17,071 over the previous year. Special inspectors have been employed for some time in rounding up licence defaulters throughout the country, and there were 350 prosecutions of defaulters during the year. The revenue from licence fees in the year 1934-35 is estimated at £30,000, representing approximately 60,000 licences. The growth of licences is likely to continue for several years before saturation point is reached.

As regards programmes six concerts were given by the Symphony Orchestra of the Dublin Station, all the concerts of the Dublin Philharmonic Society were broadcast and the Station Opera Company performed a number of operas. A promising development has been in the increase of programmes relayed from provincial centres, including Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Sligo, etc. Also an interesting result of the extension of the use of wireless throughout the country districts during the past year has been a growing demand for more Irish music, particularly dance music, the ceilidhe music broadcast nightly being specially appreciated. The scope of the talks programme has been extended and particular attention has been given to talks on Irish history, Irish music and Irish literature.

The broadcasting of running commentaries on sports events continues to be very popular with listeners, particularly the broadcasting of Gaelic football and hurling matches and an extension of such programmes is being planned for the coming season. During the past year a trial has been given to sponsored advertising programmes and the question of future policy in regard to such programmes is at present being considered in the light of experience gained so far.

As to the technical side of the broadcasting service a conference of European Governments was held at Lucerne last year for the purpose of allocating wave-lengths to broadcasting stations in Europe. This Administration was represented at the conference and the wave-length allocated to the Athlone Station is regarded as satisfactory, having regard to the international difficulties involved in the problem of wave-length distribution. The new wave-length has improved reception conditions somewhat throughout the Saorstát as a whole by reason of the fact that the non-fading range of the Athlone Station has been extended.

Might I ask whether the talks on Irish literature, Irish history and Irish music are given in Irish or English?

Mr. Boland

In both.

Are the very best people obtained—are the people who give these talks first-class authorities?

Mr. Boland

That is a matter of opinion.

What I mean is are people of outstanding distinction invited to speak on particular subjects?

Mr. Boland

They are.

There is one remark which I would like to make in connection with wireless broadcasting. The Minister for Industry and Commerce on a very recent occasion judged the prosperity of the country by the fact that there has been an increase in the sale of clocks, watches and wireless equipment. Unfortunately, or otherwise if you like, some farmers happen to have wireless sets, and I want to draw particular attention to an incident that happened recently in connection with the President's broadcast, on St. Patrick's night. On that occasion the President, in his broadcast, talked about the prosperity of the farmers and said that everything was lovely.

Very few farmers have got wireless sets, but I know of one particular farmer who has got one. This farmer on hearing the President's speech got agitated and, as he could not interrupt, what he did was to kick the unfortunate wireless set around the room. He did not hear any more of what the President was saying about the prosperity of the farmers. I would seriously suggest that, when the broadcasting authorities in future get anybody to broadcast in connection with the farmers' position in this country, they would drop the talk about prosperity altogether. The farmers know their position very well, and if these talks are permitted, you will only find that they will be turning around and abusing the wireless sets. I know there are very few farmers who have got one. If such people hear any more talk about their prosperity they will only do what the farmer to whom I referred did—kick the set around the room.

Did that farmer pay his licence fee?

You would not expect me to answer that, because I do not know.

Mr. Boland

If that farmer can afford to kick his set around the room, he must not be very badly off.

Well, he got very good value for it anyway. Since he could not interrupt, the next best thing to do was to give the set a kick, and that finished his broadcast anyway.

Deputy Curran has touched upon quite an important matter, and that is that the wireless is being used increasingly for political purposes in this country. I understand that it is not supposed to be used for political purposes, but addresses are being broadcasted which are distinctly political in their tendency. If that is going to be continued, I suggest that we ought to do the same here as in other countries where political addresses are permitted, and that is to see that all shades of opinion have an opportunity to express themselves over the radio, and that it should not be confined to one political party.

Mr. Boland

I do not admit that there have been any political addresses at all. There have been broadcasts by different Ministers on matters relating to their respective Departments, which concern the whole country. The President simply broadcasted a message to America, and he did not say that the farmers were prosperous. If that is the type of mind of Deputy Curran's informant, he must not be in a position to talk much here. If that is the type of mind, Deputy Curran ought to be very slow to talk here. I listened to that speech and I listened attentively, because I expected that I might have to answer here, and I say that there was nothing political, and that the President said nothing that he had not a right to say. It has always been the custom to broadcast to America on such occasions. I suggest to Deputy Curran that before he gets up to speak here he ought to get better information than from a man who kicks his wireless set around the room.

Vote 64 put and agreed to.