Skip to main content
Normal View

Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 26 Nov 1942

Vol. 88 No. 19

Committee on Finance - Vote No. 62—Wireless Broadcasting.

I move:—

"That a supplementary sum not exceeding £3,862 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1943, for Salaries and other Expenses in connection with Wireless Broadcasting (No. 45 of 1926).

When presenting the Estimate for Wireless Broadcasting for the current financial year to the Dáil in June last, I intimated that while I regarded the programme of Radio Eireann as of satisfactory standard taking existing broadcasting resources into account, I considered that the standard fell below what might reasonably be expected from the national station. Taking the view, with which there will be no disagreement, that the programmes should reflect the national culture at its highest, I said that it would be in the best interests of the country that, consistent with national finances, the broadcasting service should have at its disposal resources sufficient to enable it to function on a level worthy of Irish cultural tradition, presenting programmes of good standard, varied, educative and entertaining, reflective of the best and most characteristic of the national activities. I indicated certain aspects which I considered reasonably called for improvement and said that when the examination of a scheme for the purpose, on which I was at the time engaged, had been completed, I hoped again to approach the Dáil for approval of such additional financial provision as might be involved.

A scheme of programme improvements estimated to cost £11,150 in a full year has been prepared and the Supplementary Estimate which I am now submitting represents the cost up to the end of the current financial year, March, 1943—estimated at £3,862. The additional expenditure falls wholly under sub-heads A and B, and the following are the details:—

The additional outlay under sub-head A, representing an increase of £1,265, will be wholly on the orchestra. The present orchestra consists of 28 members, a combination which is inadequate for all round programme work. I am proposing an increase of 12, i.e., to 40 members, which I regard as the minimum necessary to secure an adequate standard of per formance. I would like indeed to see an even larger augmentation, but at present circumstances do not admit of the proper utilisation of an orchestra of greater size in general programme work. In time I hope it may be possible for broadcasting to have a full symphony orchestra of 60 members regularly engaged. With such a combination the status of Irish broadcasting would be immensely raised and, through the influence of the highly artistic and varied broadcasts which would become practicable, national musical effort and appreciation would be materially stimulated. Meantime the lesser augmentation from 28 to 40 which is proposed will effect a marked and most desirable improvement.

With the object of utilising the enlarged orchestra to the utmost advantage and, incidentally, of effecting a reduction in the time now occupied by gramophone records it is proposed to increase the attendance of the members for the purpose of both rehearsals and broadcasts by about 20 or 25 per cent. Improved rates of pay for existing personnel are also contemplated, viz., £6 a week for men (instead of £5); £5 a week for women (instead of £4). For new entrants the existing rates of £5 a week (men), and £4 a week (women), would be operative during a probationary period of not less than a year, after which, if their services were being retained, they would be allowed the higher rates. The remuneration of the leader of the orchestra, under the new conditions, will be £8 a week for a man, and £7 a week for a woman. In addition to their remuneration as ordinary members the deputy leader and the leading strings will receive an extra 10/- a week, and the leading wood wind and brass 5/- a week.

Under sub-head B, representing an increase of £2,597 an important item of this provision is the contemplated setting up of a radio chorus. The production of opera from the studios at suitable intervals is an extremely desirable feature, and it will be necessary to have a chorus available for the purpose, as well as for part-singing and general choir work. I have in mind a chorus of 24 members whose remuneration will be on an engagement basis. Very careful selection will be necessary, as it is of the utmost importance that the most suitable voices available be secured.

Funds are also being provided to enable improved fees to be paid to "outside" artists—musicians, authors, actors, etc. What I have in mind is not that the increased funds shall, automatically, mean increased fees for all broadcasting artists, but that the prospect of larger fees than we have been hitherto able to afford will attract to broadcasting people of particular competence who have heretofore felt that the fees paid were not commensurate with their professional standing and have consequently kept aloof. It is, of course, our intention also to pay better fees to certain artists who, more or less, frequently participate in the performances and who, on account of the high standard of their work, are not adequately remunerated under the present scale of fees.

In submitting the Broadcasting Estimate for the current year, I mentioned that the innovation of presenting the Abbey Players and Longford Productions in representative plays on Sunday evenings had proved particularly popular; and that these, alternating with the station production of important original plays and the dramatisations of such works as Knocknagow, etc., had produced a marked increase of public interest in radio plays. The extra expenditure incurred by the broadcasting of these plays and dramatisations in the year 1941-42 was made possible only by economies effected through the extension of the use of recorded programmes during the summer months. It is hoped, with the increased funds which will now be available, that we shall be able to extend still further the presentation of plays and dramatisations on these lines without interfering in any way with our plans for the improvement of the programmes generally.

I am most anxious to encourage the development of musical activities in the provinces and, with that object, broadcasting will be prepared to take relays and to contribute to the cost of a limited number of good class concerts in various provincial centres where there are musical societies of standing—subject, of course, to the director being satisfied as to the general standard of the concert programmes. The acting music director has already made contacts in this connection, and seven concerts which have been taken on the new basis have proved reasonably successful.

In view of its great national importance the development of Irish music will in future receive special attention. While there has been a certain revival in respect of Irish compositions and arrangements to meet requirements in recent years, it has been inconsiderable in volume and too restricted in scope. There is a considerable amount of national music which is practically unknown. The great bulk of the people are only acquainted with Irish music through the traditional fiddle, piano accordeon, choirs and ceilidhe bands. Arrangements for orchestral and small string and wind combinations are badly needed, and funds for the purpose are being provided experimentally in the hope and expectation that very useful results will be achieved.

The public symphony concerts held fortnightly in the Mansion House are this season again proving most successful and popular. These performances were undertaken as an experiment and with a certain amount of misgiving, and their success is clear proof that there is a definite and increasing public demand for what is best in music. A most gratifying feature of the concerts is, as I mentioned in June last, that the audiences are for the most part composed of young people, indicating the existence of a widespread cultural trend amongst our younger generation, which in their own and in the general interests should be encouraged to the utmost. I trust that the improved broadcasting programmes in the studios and before the public, which I hope to provide under the financial authority I am now seeking from the Dáil, may prove to be a helpful factor.

I do not think I can quarrel with this additional expenditure. I think there has been an improvement in the programmes recently, particularly in regard to the programmes contributed by the orchestra. I am very glad that the Minister has decided to encourage the broadcasting of more Irish music and Irish tunes that are not generally known. Taken generally, his statement has been quite satisfactory, but there are one or two matters to which I should like to call attention. Firstly, I think that broadcasting from our station is of too limited a duration. The station is closed down for a considerable portion of the day. I see no reason why the station should not be kept going practically the whole day, I think this is one of the services which not only pays for itself, but out of which there is a considerable sum left over at the end of the year.

What is the revenue?

The estimated revenue is £104,000 but there has been a drop in recent times.

There is a clear profit of £30,000 or £40,000 per annum. Seeing what can be done by the expenditure of this extra £3,000, the Minister, I think, should be able to extend the hours of broadcasting if he utilised more of this £30,000 or £40,000.

The annual amount will be £11,150.

But you have over £30,000 on hands.

Unfortunately it is not on hands, as the Deputy knows.

That is what you are making.

The revenue is supplied by the listeners through the payment for licences.

And from advertising.

I do not think that very much is received from that source now. The only other matter I wish to mention is that I regret that our wireless station is not being used for propaganda purposes on behalf of this country. In particular, I regret that it has not been used for the purpose of dealing with our great national grievance which has existed for the last twenty years. I refer to the question of Partition.

Discussion on a Supplementary Estimate is strictly confined to the purposes for which the money is required.

I have said all I wish to say on the matter.

Frankly, I am disappointed with the statement of the Minister on this Estimate. I had hoped that consequent upon the debate on the main Estimate that the Minister would have brought in, as he promised —he did not promise to bring forward an Estimate that would allow of a 100 per cent. increase in the expenditure on the daily programme, but he promised to bring in an Estimate that would permit of a substantial increase in fees in the case of programmes generally—an Estimate that would allow of a substantial increase in fees. What does this £11,000 in a full year mean? Even taking salaries, wages and allowances, which, of course, cover the salaries of members of the orchestra, it really means, roughly, an increase of 40 per cent. all round in fees. When we of the Writers', Actors', Authors' and Musicians' Association, submitted a memorandum to the Minister on this question, we hoped, as I have said, that there would be a considerable increase in fees, but a 40 per cent. increase upon a copyright fee of £1 is very small indeed. The Minister has stated that it is the intention of Radio Eireann to use this additional money to induce authors, who are more or less famous and who have made a name for themselves, to contribute to the programmes. If the Minister intends to pay these men in any degree adequately, there will be very little left for the young Irish author who is trying to make his way at home and with whom I have always been concerned—the young man who comes into Radio Eireann, hands in a script which it has taken him probably a month to write, and receives 10/6 for his trouble. I am not blaming the Minister so much, and I find it very difficult to blame the director of Radio Eireann. I think he is an excellent director and that he has a very competent staff, but——

Better place the blame on the Minister, who is responsible to the Dáil.

It seems, from repeated representations made to other Ministers who preceded the present Minister, that the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs has no power in this Department. There are mysterious mandarins over in the Department of Finance who hold sway. I am sure the Minister has done his best. When we waited upon him, we were received always courteously and he promised to do his best. Within the limit of his ability to do it, he has done it, but he is circumscribed.

I do not like the phrase "within the limit of his ability". I would not give the author of that 10/6.

I am not satisfied, but I can only say I hope the Minister will make representations to the Minister for Finance. The former Minister for Finance was amazed when I told him privately what fees were being paid. I said: "You were Minister for Finance and the blame always was placed on your shoulders." He did not know of that responsibility, while we were at a loss to know who was responsible in the matter.

I would like to see Radio Eireann a truly national station and reaching a high cultural standard. It will never reach a national cultural standard while it is regarded by certain people merely as an amateur concert hall. You will not get talent, you will not get writers, unless you pay for it. The younger writers, after writing a couple of scripts for Radio Eireann, feeling they had made their mark, are still in receipt of their guinea or £1.

Not for half an hour.

For a quarter of an hour —£3.

I do not know any young writer who is getting three guineas for a quarter of an hour. I myself got three guineas for a play that ran a full hour.

How long ago?

About a year ago.

The Deputy was writing at the wrong time.

However, I dealt with it fairly and fully on behalf of W.A.A.M.A., on the main Estimate. We will have something more to say to the Minister on the next Estimate, and I hope he will have something more to say to us.

Are we to take it that the discussion here is strictly limited to the payment of artists, to the two items on the Supplementary Estimate —the additional sum required for the orchestra and for the engagement of artists, etc.? Paragraph (2) of sub-head B does not cover any kind of news service.

What is the £100?

Rentals of local and trunk lines for relays. That would be for concerts in Cork, Limerick, etc., for rentals to the Post Office.

I thought it might be for relaying Ministers to the rural areas.

I do not want to trespass, in this Supplementary Estimate, to refer to the way in which Radio Eireann is handling the news. Whether sub-head B covers that or not, is not quite clear——

I do not think it does. There is no additional money being paid in connection with news service of any sort.

Under paragraph (1) of sub-head B, do the copyright fees not include something for news service?

The news service is not copyright. The copyright is to the authors, and so on.

What does "etc." cover?

I appeal to the Deputy not to help Deputy Dillon to be out of order.

I want to put him in order.

"Etc." must cover something, and it is a way of avoiding discussion to put in "etc." and then say that it covers nothing. I think it covers anything else which falls under sub-head B of the main Estimate.

Frankly speaking, there is no increase in connection with the news service. I am not asking the House for extra money for the news service.

I take it that "etc." means that any part of this money can be devoted to any part of sub-head B of the main Estimate, which covers the cost of programmes.

It is very strictly laid down by the Department of Finance as to what it can be spent on.

I am concerned only with the Estimate laid before Dáil Éireann, which speaks of an extra sum to be expended on the orchestra, the engagement of artists, copyright fees, etc. As far as I can see, it gives the Minister the right to spend that money for any of the purposes set out in sub-head B of the main Estimate, and if I were in the Public Accounts Committee I would so rule, if that question came up for discussion.

It has nothing to do with news.

What does sub-head B cover in the main Estimate?

The headings are the same here as in the main Estimate.

It is the Cost of Daily Programmes.

Is not news a part of that?

Not the additional sum.

Is not news in sub-head B of the main Estimate?

What does news come under?

Under sub-head A.

Under which sub-head?

Sub-head A.

I have not got a copy of the original Estimate in front of me, nor have I a copy of the Book of Estimates, as I did not foresee that it would be necessary.

It includes talks. A news officer is included.

It is the news officer I am talking of. He is under sub-head B?

And there is a news correspondent. He is under sub-head A.

While that point is being cleared up, I would like to join with Deputy McCann in the representations he is making on behalf of artists. I understand that some improvement was made in the situation that obtained three or four years ago, when people were invited to come a distance—as far as from Donegal—and then offered something like two or three guineas for their contribution to the programme. It must be manifest to the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs that, if the standard of culture of Radio Eireann is to be of such a character as to do credit to the station, some kind of attractive fee must be offered to people who broadcast. Otherwise, as Deputy McCann says, the station will get nobody but enterprising amateurs. Those who are in a position to demand a reasonable fee simply will not bother to go to Radio Eireann. That would not matter so much if Radio Eireann were heard within the confines of this country and nowhere else, but Radio Eireann is heard abroad—all over Great Britain and in other parts of the world, I believe—and people are prone to form a judgment on the general cultural level of this country on what they hear from Radio Eireann. I do not think the best friend of Radio Eireann at the present time would maintain that the programmes disseminated from that station represent the cultural level of this country. What does sub-head B cover in the main Estimate?

It is put down the same as it is here—Cost of Daily Programmes—and there are the same two headings as here—(1) Engagement of artists, Copyright Fees, etc., and (2) Rentals of Local and Trunk Lines for Relays.

Frankly, I propose to deal with the news. If the Minister states specifically that no part of the sub-head covers the news service, I am prepared to withhold my observations.

I am prepared to receive privately any representations the Deputy wishes to make.

The truth is that I wish to refer to a very gross scandal in connection with the news, and there would not be much use in referring to that in correspondence between the Minister and myself.

The news service does not come under any of the items set out in the Supplementary Estimate.

Then, I shall wait. I do urge that Deputy McCann's representations receive favourable consideration. A fee which might be reasonable in the case of an artist whose services would be retained repeatedly over 12 months might be grossly inadequate in the case of a person without any reasonable expectation of being retained more than two or three times in the year. I think that it would be reasonable to tender to a musician or singer of distinction a fee as large as £10 10s. If the Minister were giving a party in his house and invited a singer to come and sing to his company, would he be quite satisfied if the Minister offered him two or three guineas?

We have paid even more than £10 10s. to a really distinguished artist.

Then, the question arises: what does the Minister mean by "distinguished artist"? I think that artists who are invited to give a programme of music from Radio Eireann ought to be distinguished artists within the meaning of that term when you restrict it to Irish nationals. You ought not to ask people who have no claim to distinction to entertain the listening public here and, in addition, those in Great Britain or Northern Ireland who may be listening. The effect of engaging so many artists who have no claim to distinction, and who are glad to get three guineas is that distinguished artists are reluctant to come forward, as the station has the reputation of paying inadequate fees. No person would care to enter into a wrangle with officers of Radio Eireann as to whether he was a distinguished singer or not. The artist comes forward and offers his modest talent for what it is, and he does not want a preliminary argument as to whether he comes within the term "distinguished artist" or not. All that he undertakes to do is to sing his best and, if that is good enough, he ought to be paid for his contribution.

It is a bad thing to segregate artists into two classes—those who are distinguished and entitled to an adequate fee and those who are indistinguished and are glad to get what they can. I suggest that any artist invited to sing for Radio Eireann, particularly during the evening hours when the listening public are supposed to have their sets turned on, ought to be deemed to be a distinguished artist. Nobody but those who come within that category ought to be invited to sing for Radio Eireann. It would be better to put on a gramophone record than to invite them. If the matter is not approached from that point of view, the level of performance of Radio Eireann will continually tend to fall.

Bearing in mind the constant pressure—which is quite natural when dealing with public money—to reduce expenditure and the fact that every spending Department is being urged by the Department of Finance to cut down expenses, I foresee the danger that, even if the opportunity presented itself to Radio Eireann to retain a distinguished artist, within the Ministerial meaning, every night of the year, pressure by the Department of Finance might easily induce Radio Eireann to decide that they would only have a distinguished artist on four nights of the week and provide a cheaper programme on the remaining nights. That would be a wholly mistaken policy. The more excellent you make the wares you have to sell, the greater custom you create. I have detected throughout the whole Department of Posts and Telegraphs and this Department of Wireless Broadcasting, for which the Minister is responsible, a tendency consistently to lag behind demand.

Is not the Deputy now dealing with the general Estimate rather than with the supplementary items?

I am dealing with the quality of the programmes.

And the general tendency of the Department.

In regard to programmes and so forth. Instead of waiting on revenue to rise to such levels that they might venture to be extravagant, their duty is to raise the programmes to so high a level as will induce a larger number to take out licences and thus increase the revenue. They are always afraid to do that They want to wait until revenue rises in order to make improvements. That is a wholly fallacious and mistaken policy to pursue. The way to increase the revenue is to improve the programmes. No business has succeeded that did not overspend in the initial stages and reap the benefits of that overspending in subsequent years.

If the Minister would, for about 12 months, try the policy of presenting programmes far more expensive and of far higher quality than the present revenue would appear to justify, he would be astonished to discover that the increased revenue acquired by that policy would make the rate of expenditure appear modest and would enable him in future years to build up a standard of entertainment analogous to that presented by the B.B.C., which is none too high, or, better still, to that the commercial programmes at present being diffused on American networks.

It often strikes me as odd—I suppose it is due to the policy of national self-sufficiency—that we, in this country, do not deem it our duty to compare our achievements with those of other countries. We are a small country, with limited resources, but if you compare the programmes being provided by Radio Eireann with the programmes of the Columbia Broadcasting Company or any other member of the broadcasting chain in America, you will realise that, if the American public were offered what we are offered, there would be no revenue at all. These immensely wealthy corporations would not exist under these conditions. These great corporations built up their immense strength and present wealth by consistently giving the public more than the public expected, until they succeeded in planting a radio set in practically every house in America.

Is not the Deputy now discussing general broadcasting policy?

I am discussing the broadcasting programmes, and this Estimate deals with an increase in the membership of the orchestra, engagement of artists, payment of copyright fees, etc.

The word "etc." is used twice.

I urge the Minister to spend more money and to spend it courageously. I think that he ought to tell us, when he is winding up, something with regard to the advertising position. Are we to assume that this specific appropriation is over and above the revenue he expects to derive from advertising or are we to assume that it is made in anticipation of a diminution of the advertising revenue in the time to come?

I think it is a proper answer to me to say that of course the great American broadcasting organisations are enabled to provide the high standard of entertainment they give and to pay the high fees they pay as a result of the advertising revenue mainly, not as a result of fees paid for licences. What is the Minister's intention in regard to that matter? Does he intend to go on looking for more advertising revenue, or does he intend to adopt the B.B.C. policy and drop advertising revenue altogether and finance the station from the licence fees and subsidies from the Exchequer? If he does mean to drop the advertising revenue altogether, I think there is a good deal to be said for that policy. But I suggest to him that he ought to go with his ears back and his head down and insist that the Department of Finance will give him sufficient money to provide programmes of which this country can be proud and of which nobody in the country need be ashamed if we have reason to believe that they are being overheard in Great Britain, France, or in any other part of the Continent of Europe.

I think Deputy Dillon was not here when the Minister introduced the Supplementary Estimate or he would have been as surprised as I was to hear that there was such a deficiency on the side of reality in the Minister's association with the station as to enable him to use this phrase; that what he was aiming at, and apparently hoping to achieve to some degree, was to make this station representative of national culture at its highest. I should like to see that written up over the station as, so to speak, the objective that this station should aim at. But anybody who would say that we are within 100 years of it would, I think, he speaking in terms of the highest exaggeration. As to the £100,000 which is got in the way of revenue, I put it to the Minister that if he closed down this station he would, in fact, get the greater part of that revenue still. There are very few who pay for the joy of listening to this particular station. They pay because they can get programmes from outside, and I am certain that the greater part of his revenue would still be assured to him if the station were wiped off the face of the earth.

How far he will get towards a realisation of the ideal which he raised to a very high pitch by a lot of the matter he gave to the House in introducing the Estimate, how far he is going to get this station to be representative of national culture at its highest by this expenditure of nearly £4,000 or £11,000 for a full year, I do not know, but I have great doubts whether he will get any length at all. The numerical strength of the orchestra is to be added to, and, secondly, those in the orchestra are to get something higher in the way of the rate of pay. It will take a very selective ear in the near future to detect the difference made in the wood-wind and brass performers by the 5/- a week extra they will get by this amazing effort on the part of the Minister. What he is going to give by way of strength I do not know. I do not know where he is going to get the people or where he thinks he will recruit people of quality for the wages he finds it possible to offer under this increase.

The station has always suffered from the Department of Finance. There is no question of secrecy about that. Always it has been looked upon as a poor thing by Ministers of Finance in succession, right from the start. They have always crabbed the efforts of those trying to get good entertainment for the people. I think Deputy Dillon is right in saying that the past was not too glowing. From what we can look back upon there will not be very much achieved by the additional moneys now being granted. Personally, I cannot speak from close attention to the programmes of Radio Eireann, because I have got into the habit simply of taking samples from time to time. Apart from the symphony concerts that the Minister spoke of, I find it impossible to discover any improvement. If I judge by the old test we used to apply—not to the big corporations in America, or even the B.B.C.—when there was a station in the North of Ireland, I do not think our station would stand out happily in comparison with that station when it was going. Now we are to get this addition of £11,000, part of which is to be spent on increasing the strength of the orchestra and £2,597 of which is to be spent in the engagement of artists to achieve the development which we are to get. I suppose more frequently we will get an opportunity of listening to some better type of artist than is at present being put on. I do not know how far that sum will allow the Minister any great development. I see very little prospect of it.

I suggest to the Minister, as Deputy Dillon has suggested, that he should ask the Department of Finance to let him go on a "burst" for a year, have a good fling for a year and spend the whole revenue. It would only set the country back £30,000. If I were to select a couple of profiteers, I would get that £30,000 back immediately and not a penny need lie on the community. You might get a few well-earned squeals from some people, but I think the public would love to hear even their squeals over the radio if it were pointed out who they were and that the reason they were squealing was because of the ill-gotten gains which had been extracted from them. The relatively small sum of £30,000, which is the remnant of what the station earns but does not spend, would enable the Minister, in any event, to do this: he could make some attempt at showing the people what could be done by the application of an extra sum of money.

I am not sure, however, that money is the whole thing. I am not sure that the mere provision of money for the engagement of artists, or for making better provision by way of money for artists, will mend matters. I have always felt that there was a certain amount of lack of imagination about the whole running of the station. I am not sure that it is a question of people not coming forward, even possibly reluctantly and regretfully, for the particular money offered. I think some people still in the country could be induced to come forward if they felt they were going into a proper setting.

Quite a number of people feel that they are being presented in a very peculiar atmosphere, that they are not being presented in a successful show, that they are staging something which is almost decrepit and run down and about to be wound up. The general feeling with regard to the whole service is very much like that. It may be that money is at the back of the whole thing. But, apart from money, I think there is something else, something to do with the particular way in which the station is run and the particular viewpoint expressed there.

The matter Deputy Dillon was speaking about, the matter which is not indicated by "etc.", would, apparently, not be in order. I can only say that this is another example of the institutions in this country, which are so definitely being conducted on the spoils system that, when a change is made, there will be no alternative except, in the main, to pitch out those connected with the worst feature, the prejudiced running of the station at present.

I want to ask the Minister if he could tell us what is included in the "etceteras" under item 1 of sub-head B. He told us what is not included, but I think the House is entitled to know what is included.

Deputy Esmonde objects to the number of hours being too short. One of the limiting factors there is the fact that we have to be economic in regard to the amount of electricity used. The amount of electricity used by the station is very large indeed and, in present circumstances, we have to keep that down. When introducing the original Estimate, I had in mind that we would have to increase the hours. But, having regard to the shortage of electricity during the summer months and the shortage which may occur again at any time, there was no use in changing our hours because we might have to disappoint the public suddenly by another change. Of course it would be quite impossible to have the station going all day, because that would mean an enormous cost which would be far beyond our revenue. As a matter of fact, the amount mentioned here—that total of £70,000—does not include services from the Post Office, and so on, which bring up the expenditure to £97,353, and the amount of money that we are getting in this year is only £104,000. So we are getting closer to the mark, so far as the amount of money at our disposal is concerned.

But that is only a matter of inter-departmental accounting.

Yes, that is so, but it still means that we have to pay the cost of electricity, engineers, and so on. Frankly, I should like to be able to take part in this attack on the Department of Finance. I should very much like to be able to do so, if it meant that we could get some more money from them, but after all you have only to refer to the last Estimate to which we listened in this House to realise that the national revenue and expenditure on other matters of a much more serious nature from the point of view of the necessities of the people have all to be taken into consideration, and I have to have regard to that, no matter how much I may want to improve the station.

I am sorry that Deputy McGilligan has not taken a more continuous interest in the station because I think that, if he had, he would have found that the production, for instance, of the Abbey plays or of the Longford Productions has been very excellent indeed, and that some of the other dramatisations have been of a very high standard also. I do not mean that every item is of a high standard. After all, when you have programmes on every night, for so many hours, and with continuous programmes, it would be absurd to claim that they are all of a very high standard. Some of them, however, are extremely good. My own idea would be to have shorter hours and maintain a high standard rather than to have longer hours and try to fill in the time with secondary matter, but I think that if the Deputy would listen in to some of our dramatisations, and to some of the other things, on which we rather fancy ourselves, to put it that way, he would find that we compare very favourably with other countries Certainly, our dramatic productions compare very favourably with those of any other country—the Columbia Productions of America or anywhere else.

I may also say that the orchestra have improved enormously, partly owing to the encouragement given to them by an enthusiastic public. We have certainly nothing to be ashamed of, so far as the orchestra is concerned. They have not, perhaps, reached as high a standard as we should like, but when we are able to pay more, I am sure that they will reach a very high standard, because the Irish people are extremely musical and are capable of producing very excellent music.

I think that Deputy McCann, in his remarks, was adverting to the fees that were paid some years ago, and did not advert to the fact that the fees paid now are much higher. We pay £3 for 15 minutes, and £2 very occasionally, and, on the whole, I think there is something to be said for paying such fees to the younger people who are coming along for the first time and getting an advertisement all over the country by getting the script on at all. Even so, however, they will not get less than two guineas even now, and some people get four to five guineas, if they are of a high standard. A very distinguished artist—say, a well-known concert artist—gets from £10 to £20. Others get £3 for 15 minutes, and some get £4 or £5, while others get £2 for ten minutes.

As to what you are going to pay an artist, it is just exactly the same as if you were running a theatre or a variety entertainment. The directorate must decide, in their own judgment, which artist is to be considered worth more money and which is to be considered worth less money, and there is no use in people here, or even the Minister, intervening in matters like that. It must be left to those who are in an expert position—unless, of course, there was some crying scandal which required to have attention drawn to it, which certainly has not occurred.

With reference to advertising, that does not exactly arise here. The fact is that we are always prepared to accept advertisements at our rates, and we have even offered to accept them at reduced rates, but at the present time there does not seem to be any desire on the part either of the agencies or of advertisers generally to avail of that. I need hardly say that we would be very pleased if people did come forward.

We did expect that, owing to the shortage of paper and the limitation on newspapers, we might have some more advertising offered to us. We have laid down rules by which the advertisements would compete as little as possible with the smaller advertisements by, say, retail traders, in the newspapers, but apart from that we were hoping that other types of advertisements would come our way, and we are willing to co-operate with the newspapers in an advertising scheme, but I am sorry to say that it has not come to anything so far. However, we are always open to accept co-operation in that matter.

I do not think I have anything more to say. I am very optimistic about the prospects and I think, considering the times that are in it, that we are not doing too badly at the moment, and, like Oliver Twist, I feel that I shall come back for more later, and that it would be reasonable, from the point of view of the country in general, for me to ask for more money.

Question put and agreed to.
Supplementary Estimate reported and agreed to.
The Dáil adjourned at 7.45 p.m. until 3 p.m. Wednesday, 9th December.