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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 24 Feb 1960

Vol. 179 No. 5

Committee on Finance. - Broadcasting Authority Bill, 1959 [Seanad]—Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time.

As this Bill has been introduced and debated through the various stages in the Seanad before being brought to the Dáil, many Deputies will already have had the opportunity of studying what was said on the general principles of the Bill and its chief provisions. Its principal purpose is, of course, to provide the necessary legal framework for the establishment and operation of a statutory body which will be responsible for national broadcasting in sound and television.

It is probably unnecessary for me to go deeply into the history of the existing sound broadcasting service, as many Deputies will no doubt be familiar with the subject. The existing legislation governing broadcasting, namely, the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1926, is now some 34 years old. In Part II of that Act the Oireachtas placed responsibility for the control and operation of broadcasting on the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and since then the broadcasting service has been a branch of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. Legally, the Minister is still responsible for its administration and even its day-to-day working in detail.

Over the years, however, it became clear that a Civil Service form of organisation with the detailed controls which are necessarily inherent in it was not the best form of organisation for a creative medium whose primary function is to provide entertainment, information and enlightenment. In 1953, a radical reorganisation was carried out whereby Comhairle Radio Éireann was appointed to assist the Minister in running the broadcasting service. In practice, its operation has since been left to the Comhairle. However, from a strictly legal point of view the position has not been satisfactory and the time is overdue to put the independence which has been accorded to Radio Éireann on a proper legal footing.

The necessary steps to make Radio Éireann a statutory corporation would indeed have been taken long ago but that the question as to what form a television service should take and the relationship between such a service and sound broadcasting had to be carefully considered. If the answers to these questions are obvious now, they were not so a few years ago. It was, I believe, generally recognised that a public corporation operating both sound and television would provide the ideal kind of set-up but the costs envisaged in establishing and operating a nationwide television system of the kind we had then in mind—that is, one operated on the basis of producing most of the programmes here and depending upon licence fees, as Radio Éireann does now, for the bulk of its revenue—were prohibitive. It must, moreover, be remembered that when the present Government considered the matter in 1957 there was an acute temporary shortage of capital and, although the desirability of having a television system of our own was clear, the necessary capital could not be made available except at the expense of other—more essential—services. It was in these circumstances that the Government decided to consider proposals from private interests to establish a service based on advertising and subsequently set up the Television Commission. The Commission's terms of reference were to consider the matter on the basis that effective control must be exercisable by a public authority and that there must be no charge on the Exchequer, either on capital or on current account.

The Commission gave very patient and detailed attention to the whole problem over a period of a year and submitted a Report in May, 1959. I should like here to pay a fresh tribute to the manner in which it tackled its task, and produced its Report in so short a time. The Commission was not prepared to recommend any of the proposals put before it for the provision of commercial television. Indeed, the Report stated that if the necessary capital were available there was little or no doubt that television should, if possible, be provided on the basis of a public service. The Government accepted this view in principle and the decision appears to have been generally approved by the public. I have no doubt that it will be accepted in this House.

Having decided against a privately operated commercial service, the Government had to consider the alternatives of no television for a further period, or the early establishment of some sort of public service organisation which is the form that has been adopted generally throughout Europe. After careful consideration the Government decided that it would be appropriate to go ahead now for a number of reasons. The setting up of the Television Commission in itself led our people to expect that they would get a service. The confidence of commercial groups that they could operate television here at a profit provided good reason to believe that with the aid of licence fees and permission to engage in advertising to some extent, a public service could be operated after an initial period without loss. It was estimated that about 40,000 homes within the State were already receiving the programmes of two outside television organisations and it was considered desirable that, if possible, an Irish service should be made available to them. The general financial position had also eased somewhat. Finally, every country in Europe either has television now or is preparing to embark upon it. While probably no time could be considered as more suitable or more acceptable than another for embarking on heavy capital expenditure on a matter not directly concerned with the provision of bread and butter, the Government came to the conclusion that we would have to flow with the stream and that our people should no longer be deprived of this amenity which is being accepted as a necessity everywhere else. The Government also decided that the two public broadcasting services—sound and television—should be under the control of one statutory Authority on the grounds that the two services must be complementary. To have separate control and operation would dissipate resources which are none too plentiful while there would be no compensating advantage whatever in separate operation.

The present Bill is intended to implement that decision. It proposes to set up a statutory body of the kind which has proved so satisfactory in other fields where it has been considered necessary or desirable to have commercial or semi-commercial operations undertaken as a public enterprise. I have no doubt that this kind of organisation will be equally satisfactory for conducting the business of broadcasting.

A secondary but important purpose of the Bill is to extend my powers for controlling electrical interference with wireless reception.

In considering the structure of the organisation that should be laid down in the Bill, the Government took the view that the Authority which it is proposed to set up should be quite free to exercise its functions of providing a national service, with power of intervention by the Minister or by the Government confined to a small number of matters in which State interests must be safeguarded. The Authority will, therefore, have the maximum freedom in the matter of programmes. It is not proposed that there should be provision for any formal censorship of programmes. The Authority will be a responsible public body, and, with broadcasting in its hands, we can feel confident that the proper moral standards will be respected in its programmes. In practice, it will maintain a fairly close liaison with the official Film Censor in regard to filmed material and the necessary arrangements will be made towards that end.

It is not proposed to lay down any specific requirements as regards programme standards, apart from requiring the Authority to ensure that the general tone of programmes will be in conformity with the national aims of restoring the Irish language and preserving and strengthening the national culture. It will be left to the Authority to see that programmes are of an adequate quality, and that a proper balance between them is maintained.

The Minister's name inevitably appears in many parts of the Bill because he is transferring most of his functions as regards sound broadcasting to the new Authority. Many of the provisions are in accordance with what is accepted as routine or straightforward in legislation setting up semi-State corporations here. Others are substanially as included in television legislation elsewhere. The Authority's powers to operate broadcasting stations, for example, must be governed by a licence from the Minister because the Minister has to ensure that technical regulations in regard to the use of frequencies and such matters are observed. Copies of the licence will be placed before both Houses of the Oireachtas when it has been issued.

Impartiality in regard to matters of public controversy is provided for in Section 18 and I do not think that there will be any opposition to the provision.

We are providing for advertising in Section 20. The acceptance of advertisements is necessary if the service is to have a chance of paying for itself. ultimately. It is provided that the extent of advertising time and the extent of the whole broadcasting day will be subject to the approval of the Minister. The Minister has a responsibility to the licence holders who will be paying the fee to him to ensure that they will get value for their money and that the programmes will not be unduly overloaded with advertisements. Advisory Committees or advisers to be appointed by the Minister are provided for in Section 21. I think these are reasonable provisions.

The finances of the Authority are, of course, all important and these are provided for in Sections 22, 23 and 24. Section 24 provides that the Authority shall so conduct its affairs as to become self-supporting at the earliest possible date. During the first 5 years the Authority will receive, apart from its revenue from advertising and the net proceeds of broadcasting licence revenue, non-repayable grants not exceeding a total of £500,000. These grants are intended to meet the losses which will be incurred on the sound broadcasting service when, for the first time, it will have to pay the cost of collecting licence fees and the costs of other services hitherto provided free by Government Departments, amounting altogether to about £130,000 a year. The Authority will also incur new expenditure on pension contributions and on other items at present provided free. For capital purposes including, of course, working capital, provision is made for advances up to £2m. The bulk of that sum is to meet the cost of the provision of the television transmitters and studios but some provision is included to execute improvements of a capital nature in the sound broadcasting service. To enable the sound broadcasting service to become independent financially, some increase will, I am afriad, be inevitable in the sound licence fee. This fee is at present among the lowest in Europe.

Power is being taken in Section 30 for the compulsory acquisition of land but only for sites for transmitters and repeater stations and necessary approach roads. A particular site on a mountain top may be the only suitable one for a transmitter and the erection of the transmitter there should not be prevented by failure to secure a site in negotiation. I hope that it will be possible to acquire but the sites needed by negotiation but the compulsory power is needed if negotiation fails in any case.

Section 31 will enable me to direct the Authority to refrain from broadcasting any particular matter or class of matter. I should make it clear that this Section is not intended to provide the Minister with a general power of censorship as the whole approach has been to place the minimum of restrictions on the Authority in the matter of programmes. However, the service to be provided will be a national one, and, in the final analysis, there must be reserved to the Government some means of ultimate control over broadcasts which might be inimical to the national interest. The power is necessary for use in most exceptional cases and I am sure that no Minister would try to abuse it.

I have already mentioned the important matter of controlling interference with the reception of programmes. In provisions included in the Third Schedule, the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1926, is being amended to give me power to control such interference caused by electrical equipment of all kinds and to ensure the fitting of suppressors on apparatus offered for sale or for hire. Under regulations to be made, users of offending apparatus will get reasonable time to suppress interference. It is hoped, however, that in the long run the measures proposed to prevent interference at the source— that is, before electrical equipment reaches the users—will have the most fruitful and permanent results.

Finally, I should touch on the question whether the line standard to be used for television transmission here should be 405 or 625. This is mainly a technical matter and a complex one at that. The only decision taken so far is that transmission from the Dublin station will commence on the 405-line standard. This is necessary for the reason, among others, that the large number of owners of 405-line sets must be catered for even if a different standard were eventually to be adopted generally. The position is being kept under continuous review and further decisions will be taken in the light of the best technical advice and the practical considerations obtaining at the time.

I commend the Bill to the House and I am satisfied that it will enable the Broadcasting Authority to carry out effectively the functions assigned to it to establish and maintain a national television and sound broadcasting service.

Could the Minister tell us how many 405-line sets there are at the moment?

The estimate supplied to the Department shows that there are 40,000, but there could be more than that now. That estimate was made some short time ago.

This is the first speech to be made by the Minister in the Dáil since his appointment as Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. This is an innovation that a Bill of this kind, a very important Bill, should be introduced in the Seanad by the Government. I understand that the Minister in dealing with the amendments proposed to the Bill acted very reasonably and courteously. I am perfectly sure he will be reasonable and courteous here also.

We have not any details in the Bill but as the Minister said it is simply to provide the necessary legal freedom for the establishment and operation of a statutory body to be known as the Broadcasting Authority. The whole success of the television scheme to be set up in this country will depend on the personnel of that Authority. The personnel will consist of not less than seven and not more than nine. They will be appointed by the Minister. We have not been told in the Bill or in the Minister's statement the qualifications that will be required but I take it that the Minister in his wisdom will select members who will have all the technical knowledge necessary to make this project a success.

It is always feared that a Minister or a Party Government will be inclined to appoint members to any such body because of their political affiliations. If such a thing is done in this case it will be very serious for the future. I am confident, at the same time, that the present Minister and I hope the Government—I suppose the Minister must have the sanction of the Government—will appoint the members of this Authority without any regard to their political affiliations. I trust that at least the Authority will not be overweighted with those who may have certain political affiliations.

On the whole, the terms of the Bill are rather vague. We have not any details but just the conditions under which the Authority will be appointed and also the officials who will be appointed under the authority. We shall have a Director who will be appointed by the Minister. I think he would be the principal officer. Great care must be exercised in selecting the person for that position. If the Minister appoints the members of the Authority, and has full confidence that they will carry out all the duties assigned to them, I think it will be the duty of the Authority to select a Director-General, at least with the consent or the sanction of the Minister. I presume and I hope that when that official comes to be appointed, the Authority will be consulted by the Minister before a final decision is given.

The auditor and the Advisory Committee will be appointed by the Minister. It is a pity the Minister has so many acts to perform in connection with appointments to the Authority and all the officials who will be associated with that Authority. Let us hope the right people will be appointed. If we eventually have a television service for the whole country, let us hope the men who will be appointed will carry out their duties to the satisfaction of all sections of the community.

Section 31 gives the Minister what I consider to be too much authority. Subsection (1) of Section 31 provides:—

The Minister may direct the Authority in writing to refrain from broadcasting any particular class, and or matter of any particular class, and the Authority shall comply with the direction.

Surely that is rather arbitrary? Then subsections (2) and (3) of the same section provide:—

(2) The Minister may direct the Authority in writing to allocate broadcasting time for any announcements by or on behalf of any Minister of State in connection with the functions of that Minister of State, and the Authority shall comply with the direction.

(3) The Authority may, subject to the consent of the Minister, announce that a direction has been given under this section.

There is a provision in relation to the British television service whereby, if the Government give a direction to the Television Authority there, they will not have to announce that the direction was given by the responsible Minister.

With regard to subsection (2) of Section 31, a Minister of State may issue some announcement, or perhaps it would have something to do with making a charge on certain bodies, political bodies or otherwise. He would get authority from the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and yet the body concerned would have no right to reply. A section such as that gives too much power to the Minister and too little power to the Authority. It might create a controversy that would not make for the success of the Television Service.

I do not suppose the present Minister would wish to do anything that would create any such dissension. However, human nature being what it is, certain things may happen that would not be to the satisfaction of the viewers especially when they have no right of reply. In other words, the Minister has too much control. In fact, reading over the Bill, the Minister comes into every section.

It is only right that the television service will be under Government control. The Television Commission was set up under terms of reference to consider an Irish television service on the basis that no charge shall fall on the Exchequer either on capital or on current account. At the same time, they were told that effective control of televised programmes must be exercisable by an Irish public authority.

I understand that the Report of the Commission which was issued was only a partial report. A certain portion of it—I am sure a very large and important portion—has been kept confidential. That portion of the Report was not issued to Deputies, to Senators or to the public. I wonder if at some stage the Minister would give a reason for keeping it confidential or say if Deputies, Senators and the public at any time in the future will be made aware of the contents of that section of the Report?

There should be no charge on the Exchequer, either on capital or current account. Evidently the Government and the Minister did not accept the Report and in fact I believe at all the whole Bill has no bearing at all on the findings of the Commission. We have been told that about £2,000,000 will be expended on the establishment of the service. I believe £1,500,000, perhaps, will be spent in connection with television and the other £500,000 in connection with the improvement of the broadcasting service, Radio Eireann.

In appointing the Authority, and in order to give public confidence, would it not be advisable if the Minister consulted the Leaders of the Opposition Parties? He may not agree entirely with the suggestions they may make but it would be very desirable that such an important body as the Authority should have the confidence of the House and, therefore, of the public and the country as a whole. I think that such a suggestion was made somewhere in the Report of the Commission. I am not sure, but I saw such a suggestion somewhere.

This television service will be a very expensive luxury. Possibly one of the reasons why the Television Commission was set up, when it was found essential to set up, when it was found knowing it would be expensive—was to have an excuse to postpone its establishment. I would not blame the Government for that so much. The Minister has given the financial position in 1957 as a reason why it was not established then.

We can imagine, when the television service is working, the numbers of people who will purchase television sets, on the hire-purchase system, of course. These sets are expensive and the licence will be high—I presume £4 or £5. After all we cannot afford many luxuries in this country, at least at the present. Furthermore, you will have those television sets in perhaps 80 per cent. of the homes of Ireland. If the programmes are of the right kind, educationally and culturally, certainly they will be an advantage to the members of the household. That is why it is a good thing that the service should be under the control of the State. The Minister has stated that it is proposed to ensure that the moral standards will be maintained.

A fact that should not be forgotten is that people are too much inclined to sit around a television set and it interferes with the carrying out of home exercises by children. Adults, too, will spend a quiet time looking at television programmes and it will make a big change in family life. In olden times and in the recent past, especially in country places, we had the custom that people visited their neighbours. There were concerts, storytelling and so on and that was the really human form of entertainment. There will now be a change. I do not know whether it is for the better but I suppose we must move according to the times. Of course, programmes can be educational and suitable also for the advancement of the study of Irish because, naturally, you will have a certain number of programmes in Irish. I hope, however, that amongst the members of the Authority there will be no fanatic who thinks that all programmes should be in Irish. In fact, there should be no kind of fanatic amongst the personnel of that Authority.

There seemed to be a great urgency about setting up a transmitter station in the Kippure Mountains in County Wicklow and we have seen photographs of the work carried out there. The people of Dublin and the neighbouring counties will have the benefit of the new service a long time before it will be available in other parts of the country. I can imagine the long wait which we will have down in South Kerry. I would go so far as to suggest that the service should not be set in motion until all the necessary transmitter stations have been erected. Mind you, several such stations will have to be erected in the approaches to South Kerry and West Cork because, I understand, mountains will interfere with the transmission service.

I do not think there is any reason why I should delay the House further because we can deal with all details on the Committee Stage. We shall have amendments in connection with various matters. Let us hope that eventually, as a result of our deliberations and by the action of the Minister and the Government, we shall set up a television service which, even though it will cost money, will be the best available.

First of all, I should like to join in congratulating the members of the Seanad for, as Deputy Palmer has already pointed out, their a work in connection with this Bill. In spite of the views of many people in the country, the experiment has proved that when put to work, so to speak, the members of the Seanad can give a good account of themselves. Whether or not we agree or disagree with the views put forward in the Second Chamber, we must admit that they expressed themselves very clearly on the subject of television. It is not our function to discuss or draw attention to some of the views expressed in the Seanad. I suppose it is best to leave whatever comments we might make on them unsaid.

Secondly, I should like to make a few comments in favour of Radio Éireann. It had its faults but who or what is without fault in this life? Considering the many disadvantages under which Radio Éireann had to operate, it is fair to say that a good job of work was done.

We in the Labour Party believe that each member should be entitled to express his views on televisions in so far as it affects the area he tries to represent. Coming from a rural area, I may take a different view on some of the points from that of my colleagues. I should like to draw particular attention to one part of the Minister's statement on page 4 where he states:

... the Government came to the conclusion that we would have to flow with the stream and that our people should no longer be deprived of this amenity which is being accepted as a necessity everywhere else.

There I must personally disagree with the Minister. We must flow with the stream. In other words, we must live up to the Joneses.

In his statement, the Minister said there are between 30,000 and 40,000 households, above a line between Dublin and Sligo, which enjoy what the Minister considers "flowing with the stream", the benefits of television. If there were not 30,000 or 40,000 enjoying television from outside stations, I wonder would the Government worry about television at the present time? In relation to this Bill, we cannot forget the division of the country—a division caused by the fact that so many thousands have television already. Because they have, we must give them an all-Irish programme of their own rather than leave them in the position of having to line up with the programmes from the north-east of Ireland or across the seas.

It is quite obvious that the programme to be provided from Kippure is for the benefit of the 30,000 or 40,000 people. It is for their benefit that we are holding on to the 405 line standard—the same line as is being operated by the British television authority and by the authority in the 26 Counties. What are we doing? We are offering to these thousands of people in part of the 26 Counties an additional service, but, of course, they could, as many people are doing at the present time, switch, if they wish, to Radio Éireann for the news and possibly to the B.B.C. or Luxembourg. On the very same line of approach we are adopting here, the 30,000 or 40,000 can switch over to Kippure if it suits them and then go back to their favourite whether it is the service in the Six Counties or across the water.

I should like to address a few queries to the Minister in relation to this whole matter. If television is to be successful, we cannot have a halfhearted statement about sponsored programmes. We shall have to go into the question of sponsored programmes thoroughly, if we hope to make them pay. Where do we stand at the present time in regard to sponsored programmes? It is absolutely ridiculous to suggest that we are getting Irish-Ireland programmes from the sponsored programmes. Do we believe that a manufacturer from Britain or anywhere else who buys time on an Irish television programme, does so for the benefit of the Irish language or Irish culture? Are we trying to deceive ourselves into believing that we shall benefit from a foreign manufacturer getting into television in Ireland, getting the announcer to speak in Irish and getting everything on the screen in Irish on a programme which is in itself only a replica of the programme from the British stations for which he buys time?

That is where I cannot possibly agree either with the people outside this Chamber or with the Minister when we are told there will be a wonderful national outlook on the programmes. There may be. It would be the wish and desire of any Government in the Twenty-Six Counties to do all they could to foster Irish idealism from the point of view of the language or anything else in connection with television, but we cannot forget the fact that it is the buyer of time on these sponsored programmes—he is very often a foreign manufacturer—who will decide and dictate the type of programme on Irish T.V. That is one of the aspects which some people are inclined to ignore when they speak in favour of television here.

We must realise also that if we wish to provide a fair type of programme ourselves, we shall have to import material from other countries. We shall have to import films in order to supplement what we may have locally but what kind of stuff shall we get? Will it be first-class? If it is, we shall have to compete for it against the television authorities in Britain who can afford to spend millions of pounds buying programmes.

I remember how delighted we as youths were in rural Ireland whenever a travelling showman came to visit our area with 20-year old films of Charlie Chaplin. At that time we had no hope of going to a city to see modern pictures and we thought the travelling show was wonderful. Is that the type of stuff we shall have on the new television service? Will we be satisfied with old stuff? Whether we are or not it is the only hope we have of carrying on the service in order to make a financial success of it, but, if we do that, the 30,000 or 40,000 people who already have television sets will not look at such programmes and will turn to the their entertain-County programmes for their entertainment. Between now and Committee Stage, that is a matter which the Minister should clarify. It is vitally important for those who are in favour of a television service, though I expect it does not matter much to those who are not in favour of it.

I give credit to the Minister for saying that he will take action to eliminate interference with reception. That is a very common fault at the present time and action to remedy it is long overdue. Many Ministers in different Governments promised to take such action but they never did anything. Perhaps the problem is a difficult one but I do not suggest that the Minister will not now do what he says he will. It is all right talking about interference where 30,000 or 40,000 television set owners are concerned but I should like the Minister to do something about radio reception interference along the south and south-west coast. Have we to wait for television in order that the Government will step in to prevent that interference? For myself, I fail to see why more attention is not given to Radio Eireann in order to enable its programmes to be received by people in the South. At the present time such action would be of far greater importance to them than hearing that television will be made available to people living in a different part of the country.

When we realise that the charge for Radio Éireann is exorbitant to those people who have sets and must tune in to the BBC or Radio Luxembourg, the seriousness of the situation is quite clear and I urge the Minister to see that they get the benefit of that service before making them contribute to the cost of television. Surely he will make some attempt to deal with that problem by itself? While much may be offered by way of employment to artists when Kippure goes into operation, as depicted in a humorous Dublin journal some months ago, I think it is more important that these people I speak of should get the benefit of clear reception from Radio Eireann, a service they are paying for all the time. I direct particular attention to that problem because the Minister referred to it in his speech.

According to many of those who favour it, television will provide a wonderful new life in rural Ireland. Some people in the Seanad and elsewhere had the impression that people in rural areas would prefer to buy a television set instead of a car, but, as a Deputy from a rural area, I know that approach is absolutely nonsensical. Nevertheless, it is well that the voice of rural Ireland should be heard in regard to how it can be affected by television in the future. We cannot deceive ourselves. We shall not make the people any more Irish by having an Irish television unit; we shall not interest them more in the Gaelic language by a half hour's, or an hour's programme; and we shall not benefit Irish agriculture when most of the sponsored time will be taken up by organisations from Britain and elsewhere.

Much good work is being done in many rural areas in building up a brighter social life. Efforts are being made to encourage dramatic groups and concert parties in order to make life in these areas a little more happy and I must ask if it is suggested that these activities are to be supplanted by a television service, the new system will give us something better in an Irish way of life? On the contrary, I believe it will be wholly detrimental to the idea of social life in rural Ireland.

We know how the system operates at present. People go into a little dark room, peer at a little screen and spend a full evening following programmes. We also know how that will affect the children. They have to do their homework and they will be dodging their parents and their lessons in order to watch television. Will they be solely interested in the children's programmes? The answer is that we all know the attitude of children, that they are waiting to see Wild West films or murder features. The Minister may tell us these will not be on Irish television but Irish television will use the 405 line standard and parents, if they do not want the children's programmes, if they are not satisfied with the Irish programmes, will switch on the B.B.C. or I.T.V. and their children will follow suit. Will that be a benefit in rural Ireland, in Dublin, where unfortunately juvenile delinquency is more prevalent than we would wish, or anywhere else?

I may be old-fashioned. I do not know, but I am expressing the views of many people in rural Ireland. It took Muintir Na Tíre and Macra na Feirme many years to build up their organisations and to bring the various sections of the community together on a common basis, to better social conditions and to provide the amusements so essential in rural areas. Coming from a rural area, I know that if television is to be successful, it will be a success at the expense of that way of life, though of course it may be said that if the people in these areas have been payings fees for so long without getting a service from Radio Éireann, they ought to be satisfied now.

It is not for me to go into details of the cost. Many aspects were discussed in the Seanad, particularly the cost. I believe the figures given to us by the Minister will prove to be completely insufficient. I am reminded of another organisation which, we are told, must be self-supporting in a few years. Reading the Seanad Debates, the word "Authority" sounded very vague, like a sort of supreme body over everything. I believe we shall find the Authority will be unable to produce a programme that will pay for itself and the taxpayer in rural Ireland will be called upon to, pay for something he is not asking for.

The Minister speaks about the compulsory acquisition of land for transmitters. This is a case of "live horse and get grass". I am not casting any reflections on the Minister. My remarks must be viewed in the light of whether or not it is wise that we should have television. Compulsory powers may sound very attractive, but we are interested only in their use. Apparently compulsory powers were not at the disposal of the Minister in regard to interference or, if they had been, they were never used to deal with interference. Apparently compulsory powers were not needed for Kippure. It seems we are giving a service to 30,000 or 40,000 people here, as well as a few thousand more along the south-east coast, and in the years to come, we shall give it to the rest of the community. I believe that is unsatisfactory. If we are to go on with a programme, why make it available to a small section at the expense of the majority? We have not heard from the Minister, either here or in the Seanad, when it may be expected that the so-called benefits of television will be made available to the areas not able to receive Kippure.

At present television will not help us with the Irish language and sponsored programmes on television will not be in accordance with the pattern of social life in rural Ireland. Eventually television—flowing with the stream, as the Minister said—may bring us to the stage where people can switch on Irish television, get the programme they want and then, as happens at present with radio, switch over to the Six-County or to the British programme. That will not bring the benefits to this country the Minister would wish. Taking into account the cost and the so-called benefits that television may offer Ireland and also the disadvantages from the point of view of the people in rural Ireland, we could at present do very well by biding our time and scrutinising more closely the effects and reactions of television in the Six Counties and in Britain before deciding to embark on the provision of a service which may prove detrimental to the children of today, who are the men and women of tomorrow.

I was particularly glad to note from the report of the Commission on Television set up by the Minister that clearly, if they had their way, they would have recommended that a public authority should have been established as the ideal method by which the television service for this country would be supplied. It was only because of their interpretation of their terms of reference that they came down, in a very qualified way, on the question of allowing a joint authority on which both State and advertising interests would be represented.

It is with this question of the degree of control which the advertising interests have in the Television Authority's activities that I am particularly concerned. The difficulties of setting up this television service are very great. There is no doubt about that. One of the things that cannot be over-emphasised, however, is that while the Television Commission interpreted their terms of reference that the service should not impose any financial burden on the State, in fact, this proposal here does impose the ultimate financial burden on the State, because, as the Commission pointed out, the cost of running this service will be passed on to the consumer and, in fact, will be paid by the people. It is merely a question of the interpretation of the word "State". One way or another, the consumer will pay for this service.

They pointed out on page 25 of their First Report, paragraph 47:

This point that the Irish purchasing public will bear the cost of the advertising programmes is apt to be overlooked, but advertisers on Irish television will pass on their costs to the consumer.

I do not think that is particularly desirable. The cost of a television set is about £70 or £80. I think the total ultimately hoped for is in the region of 300,000 which means there is a considerable percentage of the public who will pay, by having to use the essential commodities which will be advertised on this television service. They will have to pay additional costs for the articles they use in order to maintain the pool of funds to provide for the advertisements carried on television.

There will be people who cannot afford a television set and who will be unable to enjoy the television service. They will be the lowest economic and financial group in our community. They will have to pay because, as the Commission say, advertising costs will be passed on to the consumer. They are the people who are using anything from matches and cigarettes to tea, cocoa, sausages or any kind of food or commodity to be used or consumed which will be advertised on the television service.

That cost will be indirectly borne by people who will not have enough money to buy a television set or to enjoy it. It seems to me that the consumer and the State will pay for this service, even though the Minister appears to believe that by bringing in the revenue from advertising, he will relieve the State, or the consumer, or the citizen of the cost of this service. That is a complete illusion and the position is not sufficiently understood by the consumer.

I understand that the total expenditure on advertising in this country in the form of radio, cinema, newspaper and poster advertising is about £7,000,000 annually. That £7,000,000 is an added tax or additional cost on each article of consumption put forward by the advertiser. Advertising is one of the absurd taxations which are unavoidably associated with the private enterprise economic system which is costing us so much. I believe that it should be borne in mind that the advertisers have not got any bottomless purse in which to find the money to pay for the television service and that they will get the money from the consumer in the ordinary way.

I believe that the most equitable way to get money for a public service of this kind is to get it through taxation. Through the activities of the Revenue Commissioners, we can ensure that the burden of taxation will be borne by those most competent to bear it. This action of the Minister's is merely a device for removing that legitimate taxation from people who can readily bear it and placing it on the shoulders of the consumers and the old age pensioners and the under-privileged groups in our society who can never see television. In that way the Minister will be able to protect the wealthy persons, the taxpayer and the surtax payer, who should be paying more tax than they are paying at the moment.

The implications of this service are vast and very widespread. This is probably one of the most important Bills introduced in recent years. It has three potentials: the educational, the entertainment and the advertising potentials. One of the by-products of advertising on television must be its serious impact on the cinema industry. Many of the cinemas will have to close down and rural Ireland and the people in rural Ireland will lose one of the few amentities left. The provincial Press has been hit in Great Britain and it will very likely be affected to a considerable extent in this country. It will mean that those who can afford to pay £70 or £80 for a television set will do so but they will not pay the 2d. or 3d. per week for their provincial papers.

The most important question of all is that of the control of the service. The power of television needs no emphasis at all from me. According to the Commission, which considered the matter, it will become more and more influential as the years go on. When they were considering it, there were only 20,000 sets in the country and now, according to the Minister's statement, there are 40,000 and there will ultimately be 300,000. The number of viewers using these 300,000 sets will be multiplied enormously so that the supreme control of the programmes going out will be of considerable importance.

I do not consider that we have that control in this Bill. As it is at present, with regard to Radio Eireann, we have here in Leinster House some measure of control. I have heard Deputies asking questions about the operation of Radio Eireann. They may not have got very satisfactory answers but they give the impression that they have the right to ask questions about the policy of Radio Eireann, discrimination, or the lack of reporting or incorrect reporting. I want to know whether the Minister intends that we should be given some direct control of this proposed public corporation. I do not see any such control provided for in the Bill.

I know well the difficulty of controlling State enterprises, the difficulty of trying to relate day-to-day activities to the procedure of Dáil Questions and the difficulty of controlling the day-to-day management of such a wide enterprise as this will ultimately become. This is a matter of the most serious importance because of the educational influence of television and the wide opportunities there are for its misuse. If this company to be established here is allowed to get into the hands of the advertising interests, all our experience tells us that the net result will be seriously deleterious to the best interests of such a service.

At the present moment there are many critics of Radio Eireann. I do not listen to it very much but I listen to it more often than I listen to the sponsored programmes from that station. It is quite clear from listening to Radio Eireann that the quality of programme presented, bad and all as it is, is infinitely better than that presented on the sponsored programmes which is practically 100 per cent. canned music, jazz music or bop music, practically continously, without any attempt at anything creative, or constructive, or informative or educational. That is something which we have, within our own knowledge, here in Ireland. One of the sad truths about our society is that one of our favourite stations, outside Radio Éireann, is Radio Luxembourg, which is unparalleled in any society for unadulterated rubbish. Their sponsored programmes are under the control of advertisers and private enterprise products, the standard being the lowest common denominator.

The awful danger of depending on advertising interests is recognised again and again in this Report. Nobody can call the Government, in the present phase of their development, whatever about their past, a socialist Government, or call them in any way advanced or radical in their outlook, but they had to admit they could not entrust this service, even though, apparently, it would not cost them a penny, entirely to advertising bodies. Because of that, they decided to have a mixed type of body, part State and part advertiser.

My contention is that sufficient control has not yet been written into the Bill in order to make certain that the advertising interests will not, in the end, overrun the interests represented in the Commission set up by the Government, and eventually leave us with a sort of sponsored, or Radio Luxembourg, type of television service in Ireland. It is all very well to say that one can switch the knob and go over to the B.B.C. That is true for most of us on the eastern side of the country but I am afraid that with the exception of the odd Sunday afternoon and evening, with the theatre in the evening, and the football matches in the afternoon, most people will turn over to the B.B.C. That is true of the eastern seaboard.

It is recognised in the Commission's Report that the B.B.C. picture has fringe reception. It is defective in many ways and uncertain in some ways. The new television service, with its five transmitters, can give a first-class picture, and first-class reception, to the whole of Ireland but there is a fair proportion of the country which is not covered by the B.B.C. and never can be. In fact, if we take the figure of 40,000, and the total potential of 300,000 if we have a service of our own, it would appear that a very considerable number of people will find themselves limited to this service which we are now about to establish. Because of that, we have not got the get-out which they have in Britain: "If you do not like I.T.V., switch to the B.B.C."

The I.T.V. have not reached the low level established by the American advertising interests in the disgraceful disclosures during recent months with regard to the racketeering that went on in the American advertising world, particularly in relation to the television service. If there was an exclusively independent television service in Great Britain with an advertising background, the public would be in great difficulty, because they would not have the opportunity of turning across to the B.B.C. which, in fact, runs a very superior service to the I.T.V., taken all round, and, indeed, a more successful one. Here, we shall not have that alternative in many cases, so there will be no alternative to the service we shall provide from our five transmitters.

That could be a good thing in so far as it is possible to provide a service of a very high standard, but the danger I see is that we will be at the mercy of the advertisers, and that the advertisers will do as they have done in other countries where they have absolute control—reduce the standard to the lowest possible level in order to make the maximum amount of profit—and the programmes will suffer as a result. The public will have no alternative but to suffer in silence.

The reason I am so disturbed about that question stems from Section 3 which provides that:

A member of the Authority who has—

(a) any interest in any company or concern with which the Authority proposes to make any contract, or

(b) any interest in any contract which the Authority proposes to make,

shall disclose to the Authority the fact of the interest and the nature therefore, and shall taken no part in any deliberation or decision of the Authority relating to the contract, and the disclosure shall be recorded in the minutes of the Authority.

It is obviously completely farcical to suggest that that clause can protect us from undue pressure from any member of the Authority who happens to be coincidentally a member of one or more advertising contractors. The idea that by standing up and going outside the door when his terms of Contract are disclosed, he would carry no weight with the members of the Authority, is so absurd, on its face, that it is quite remarkable that the Minister should have had the temerity to ask us seriously to entertain it. It is quite clear that the person with advertising interests will have definite problems and there is at least one person, already closely associated in the minds of the people with this whole concern, who has such interests.

It is quite wrong for the Minister to appear to defer to the many fears expressed in the Report of the Commission about the dangers in ultimate control by the advertisers of the Television Authority with regard to the type of programme which they will produce. This section contains no safeguard whatsoever to protect us from finding ourselves running a service for one or two advertising interests who find themselves on the board of this Television Authority.

We have that position together with the fact that we are not in a position here to control the activities of these people from time to time. I think we must have some control. If this section is being retained, we must have control. If there are abuses—and there can be functions about which the Minister might not be aware; that is one of the functions of this Assembly that because there are so many of us, it is possible for some of us to know of abuses of which the Minister may be genuinely unaware—I do not think it is sufficient that the Minister should be mentioned in the Bill as being in control. I do not think that is sufficient control, unless we get an undertaking from the Minister that he will be amenable to some form of Parliamentary control, preferably, of course, in the form of Parliamentary questions. There is a precedent already established for Radio Éireann. To the limited extent that it is there, it is a valuable curb on undue use or abuse of the very great powers which this Authority is to be given by this House.

I would ask the Minister to reconsider that section and to alter it so that it will be impossible for anybody associated with advertising contractors, at present or to be, to be at one and the same time members of this governing Authority for the television service. It is only in that way that he can be absolutely certain, or, at least, as nearly certain as is humanly possible, that he can protect the interests of the public on this Authority because, having read the Commission's Report, I am sure the Minister must be impressed by the repeated insistence that the advertising interests could be particularly damaging and particularly dangerous and that we must protect ourselves against them in every possible way.

It is significant that this Commission, composed of eminently respectable people, no doubt, who certainly could not be considered to be hostile in any was to private enterprise or to advertising interests, keep repeating throughout this grave fear which they have of the danger of the advertising interests taking control and reducing the quality and the standard of the programmes. Indeed, they end up by recommending that, if possible, it would be preferable that after a time this service should be run by a public board in the ordinary way, if there was the slightest doubt at all about the influence of the advertising interests on the quality of the programmes.

At paragraph 58, they mention this also, when they say:

A private organisation, however anxious its individual members may be to provide worthwhile programmes, will, on account of these forces, be primarily interested in reaching the largest possible audience most of the time, and with programmes intended primarily for mass entertainment. It will therefore be faced with a conflict of interests and motives, namely, whether to try and serve the public interest by treating television as much more than just another medium of mass entertainment, or to endeavour to please its advertisers by attracting maximum audiences and at the same time make greater profits for itself.

It goes on:

If the control is not effective, commercial pressure will probably prevail to the detriment of the programme material.

Anybody with the slightest experience or knowledge of this problem will agree with those findings. It is impossible to believe that, if accepted, under section (a) here the Minister will protect the community from the advertising interests and will ensure the level of broadcasting service to which we have a right.

I would put this point to the Minister in regard to the decision to accept the 405 line rather than the 625 Continental line. At this period, when we are at the beginning of the establishment of a service, with only 40,000 receivers in the country at the moment, would the Minister not consider, in view of the developments which are taking place in television, in view of the possibility and, in fact, the likelihood mentioned in some parts of the Report, that the B.B.C. may decide to go over to the 625 line—they are in channels 3 and 4—and the fact that through the 625 line we would be more in contact with Continental viewing, that it would be desirable at this stage to take what would be an unpopular decision? I am not suggesting that it would not be; it would be. As a television set owner I would hate to have to change to the 625 line. At the same time, the Minister will very likely be forced to take a decision affecting anything from 100,000 to 300,000 television set owners in the likely development of the 625 line superseding the present 405 line. Would it not be wiser for the Minister to take the decision now, unpopular though it might be, rather than wait until a time when people have acquired these costly sets and when, instead of there being a mere 40,000, there would be 150,000 or 200,000 or more, causing very much greater inconvenience to the public?

There is no doubt that from the point of view of the manufacturers it is not a bad idea to get people to buy a set which after a year or two will be useless and, taking the public interest into consideration, it is a serious decision which should be pondered by the Minister and with a certain amount of courage. There is a case for going straight on to the 605 line. There is a suggestion that the British are going to do that in channels 3 and 4.

The other interesting thing to me in this retention of the 405 line by the B.B.C. is that I understand the British is the only service to use this line which, of course, gives lower quality reception than any of the higher line types of receivers, and that we are going to have our programmes censored by the B.B.C. For people who keep talkings as readily as we do about the necessity for establishing our own independent line, about our traditions and all the rest of it, that seems to me to be a rather retrograde decision to take. However, I am not interested in that side of the question. I do not accept that introverted, chauvinist narrow-mindedness. I am interested only in the point that the greater the scope we have for receiving pictures from other Authorities, the better I should like it. By restricting ourselves to the 405 line, we happen to be restricting ourselves to taking the continental view and we happen to be restricting ourselves to a rather small output of programmes and material.

Talking about the quality of the Irishness of the programmes there seems to be a tremendous amount of schizophrenia on the part of the Commission in their recommendations because at one place they point out that for the reason that we cannot afford it—the same old reason—we cannot afford anything else from health services and an educational service to T.B. eradication—that we cannot afford to provide our own service, they say the service in the early stages will be necessarily of American or British origin and recorded programmes. Any of the American programmes I have seen are of an unbelievably low standard. The type of British programme varies very much and the quality of the B.B.C. is at times remarkably high; I have no experience of the other service but it is envisaged that our service will in the initial stage be composed of 75 per cent. of taped programmes leaving a very small amount of live television broadcasting.

Various dangers can arise here. The Commission have pointed out that television is habit-forming, that once people get into the habit of looking at a particular service or programme it is difficult to break them off that habit. It is very likely that in the initial stages, because of the novelty and the general interest of seeing what success is achieved, a number of people will look at our own service. However, if it is decided to run the service largely on British and American-type taped or recorded programmes, a certain habit of viewing will be formed by the Irish viewer and it will then be difficult to curb that habit. In these circumstances I do not see how a national outlook, the development of which is recommended in the Commission's Report, can be developed through this Authority—as the Minister appears to think it can— after they have established in the Irish people a habit of looking at these British or American canned programmes to a total of 75 per cent. of the whole service.

It would be much wiser for the Minister to concentrate on putting out a much shorter programme of the type be ultimately wants with the national hallmark on it rather than give the people, as the Minister proposes here, 75 per cent. of canned programmes. There is a great danger that when the time comes to introduce the slant of a native kind which he wants, the public will not be prepared to take it. When I say "public" I mean particularly the advertising interests who will not sponsor any programme which will not sell the maximum amount of the product in which they are interested.

The protection of the Irish language is mentioned here. Perhaps the Minister would be able to tell us whether the Chairman or any or all of the members of the Authority, must have a competent knowledge of Irish. I was given to understand that I could not ask a Parliamentary Question because this Bill was before the House. Therefore, I hope the Minister will be able to tell us whether a competent knowledge of Irish will be demanded from the Chairman or the members of the Authority. If we follow the precedent set in regard to the other boards and statutory authorities set up, it will be clear none of them will have any knowledge of Irish. Consequently I doubt if they will be in a sound position to judge the quality of the Irish programmes which will be sent out.

I understand that in sound broadcasting it is possible for the advertisers who use the Irish language in their advertisements to get better terms and conditions for their advertisements. Occasionally, when waiting for the news, I hear these programmes, but I rarely hear one of them broadcasting in Irish. Therefore, I doubt if this pious reference here to the need in relation to the language revival movement, to which there is reference in the Commission's Report and about which the Minister expressed some sentiments, will cut any ice with the advertising interests.

This is completely new ground. It is a completely new experience in which every country has had to feel its way. I can appreciate many of the Minister's difficulties but this happens to be a particularly important development. It is possible that many people will not bother to look at the service and that consequently it will not have as big an impact as it could but this legislation is, as is the legislation of most other countries, of an experimental kind. Because of that I wonder whether the Minister has given consideration to the point made in the Commission's Report that this legislation should lapse at a particular time and that it be submitted for reconsideration by the Oireachtas. That is a very sensible recommendation and I wonder why the Minister has not included it in the Bill.

In the provisions of this measure the Minister may have devised the best possible system whereby one could run a television service. Nobody knows that for certain. Our circumstances are particularly difficult. We are going in, as we have gone into most things, very much later than anybody else. We are facing the competition of the established fringe reception from the B.B.C. and U.T.V. While we have those disadvantages we have the advantage that a considerable number of our people cannot get any service and will therefore be completely new to television. However, on the credit side we have the benefit of the experience of other countries. We have the shocking reports from the United States of complete control by the advertising interests. We have the fact that many people believe that the standard and the quality of the similar service provided in Britain, even with the competition of the B.B.C. to keep it up to the mark, are nothing like as high as the B.B.C. standards.

Because television is experimental, because it is completely untried, because it is a completely new and powerful medium with tremendous possibilities, I suggest to the Minister that he should accept the proposal to allow this legislation to lapse for a time, a fixed number of years, five or seven years, whatever period he thinks desirable, and that the question be resubmitted to the Dáil. If his provisions here prove themselves to be satisfactory and to be successful then, of course, the Dáil will accept them as they find them. It will be possible for him and the rest of us to suggest amendments in the light of our experience. That is a reasonably intelligent suggestion and it is one the Minister should follow.

Another suggestion that should be written into legislation is that programme advertising time should not take up more than six minutes in the hour or a maximum of ten minutes in the hour. We should be given some say as to where advertising appears in the programme. Some of these advertising people are such savages that they would be prepared to put their advertising into the mouth of an Othello or a Hamlet, into the middle of a piano concerto or wherever they think they could sell their stuff. We ought to protect ourselves against the moronic standards of most of the advertising we know—the press advertising, the poster advertising and the cinema advertising. The Minister should lay down—it is mentioned in the Commission's Report—the type of intervention the advertising interests will be permitted to make, its length and type of programme they will be permitted to sponsor.

The Minister is handing over much too much control to this new body, in view of the untried nature of the enterprise. I should not be as concerned about it if it were completely amenable to this House, if we were permitted to ask questions about it and to criticise it. I am not interested in the annual Estimate of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, or of whatever Department may be responsible in this case. This is a problem that must be taken up immediately it arises. It is not enough to tell us we shall be able to discuss the matter on the annual Estimate.

The Minister should write into legislation the minimal requirements of the House on the question of the intervention of advertising interests. Whether it be newspaper advertising, the horrible hoardings which defile the countryside, the dishonesty of their activities in the American stations or the general rubbish that comes from Radio Luxembourg and sponsored programmes, the fact that advertising contractors might possibly be represented on this body is a very serious menace to the undertaking and enterprise.

Television could be an invaluable asset to the nation, particularly from the point of view of the rural areas which are so isolated and from which people have been fleeing for so long. Tremendous advantages could flow from such a service to the people in rural Ireland. Some real and positive attempt could be made through this service to help them. One of the greatest reasons they feel they have to get out is the lack of entertainment. This body, properly operated, could provide an answer to the need for entertainment, instruction and education.

I welcome the suggestion, and I think it is a good thing that we should now try to establish this service. I deprecate the fact that I believe that, through Section 8, it will be possible for the advertising interests to inflict their own form of cretinised advertising methods on the unfortunate public and that they will leave us with nothing but the low standard of service they have provided in other countries where they have had the opportunity to do so. I would ask the Minister to reconsider Section 8 and to make it mandatory on those who have any financial association with an advertising contractor to declare any such interest and thereby disqualify them from sitting on the Authority.

I imagine the Government have been motivated in introducing this Bill by the facts that the Ulster Television service has begun and that they were advised to do so in the Television Report.

Though I have considerable misgivings with regard to this Bill, I really do not think there was any option open to the Government but to do what they did. I should like to feel that if we are to have a television service it will be on a sound financial footing. Some of the arguments I intend to produce will, I am afraid, show that the financial statement in the majority report of the Television Commission is absolutely and entirely fallacious.

In doing so, I am not activated by a spirit of destructive criticism. I am trying to show the House and the Minister and, through him, the Government, that they will face grave financial difficulties as they have estimated the position and as they are putting this Bill to the country.

In his opening statement, the Minister has not really given us the background of the finances. One can only go on the Television Report itself which I believe must have greatly influenced the Minister in his decision. In Ulster, they have 100,000 television sets. The revenue they obtain from that, at about £4 per set, is £400,000 per annum. The amount they obtain, at the peak period, for advertisements is £80 a minute. I have a letter here from someone who knows what he is talking about. The letter must be confidential. He tells me that Independent Television in Britain can command £1,500 a minute for advertisements but they have an audience of somewhere in the neighbourhood of 10,000,000.

Ulster can command £80 a minute with an audience of 100,000. It is reasonable to assume, and I presume the Government have taken it into consideration, that ultimately we can have an audience in this part of the country in the neighbourhood of 300,000. I think that is the figure the Minister more or less suggested. I do not know what licence fee will be payable here. For the sake of the public, I hope it will not be as high as it is in the United Kingdom. However, suppose it is the same. It will produce a revenue of about £1,200,000 per annum. According to the figures in the majority report of the Television Commission, it would seem that we would be comfortably situated financially. Furthermore, if we were enabled to command an advertisement fee, even paralled to that of the Ulster Television area, or perhaps a bit more as we have more receiving sets, we would be very comfortably placed. But we have no reason to be sure that we are going to have 300,000 sets here. At the present moment we have 30,000 sets. True those 30,000 sets only cover the areas of reception at the moment which is a line approximately north of Dublin and extending over to the west. We would want to give serious consideration to the implications of the expenses concerned with the establishing of a television service.

It has been stated that we are to have 30 hours a week of programmes. Nobody has yet said how much live programme we are to have; at least if anybody has, I have not noticed it in the debates that took place in the Seanad or in the Minister's statement to the Dáil, but I do know that to produce one hour of live programme, taking the facts and figures which I have received from parallel television services in other countries, it would cost over £1,000,000—£1,000,000 annually for one hour of live programme per day. If we are to spend over £1,000,000 on the hour of live programme we would want to have a very high return from advertisements to create a situation balance and would be in substantial balance and would not be running this concern at a loss. If we can only produce one hour of live programme, as I believe will be the atmost of our ability, the other programmes we shall produce will be secondhand programmes—I think the technical term in television services is "canned" programmes—and we shall be producing programmes which will be replicas of earlier programmes.

When Deputy Dr. Browne was speaking he stressed the point that if this concern or corporation were handed over to private enterprise it would be entirely in the hands of those who would be profit seeking and that for that purpose they would concentrate on running it as cheaply as possible and the programmes would, of necessity, be very bad programmes. I am not entirely inclined to agree with that because if any corporation runs a television service they must realise that unless they produce a decent service they will not get listeners or viewers. If they do not get the viewers or listeners they will not get the advertisements and the advertisements are really the main source of revenue for television. I do not think conditions between sound broadcasting and television are at all comparable. The expenses connected with television, if one inquires into the matter, as I assume the Minister and his advisers have done, are stupendous. It would be a mistake for Deputies to think that just by setting up an Authority, by establishing a studio and waving a wand, so to speak, you will bring into existence all the facets necessary for building up a decent and reputable television service.

I read an article the other day from which I discovered that in one of the smaller studios under the control of the B.B.C. the setting up of the lighting alone cost £50,000. That gives some idea of the magnitude of the expenditure required. Those unacquainted with the technique and management of television think that to put a person on the screen one has only to take that person—or it may be more than one person—pay the requisite fee and that expenses begin and end there. It is true to say that to put people properly on the screen, even though they are expert televisers themselves, one requires an enormous staff, a highly trained and technical get that staff, train them and pay them.

I should like to ask the Minister if these matters have been fully gone into or if he must decided to introduce a Bill to establish an Authority, give them a Director-General and hope for the best? These are things that need to be fully considered here. I should like to see our television service a success; the first month or so of the service will be of paramount importance. There is bound to be a great deal of interest in it, particularly in Britain, our closest neighbour, where there are many viewers and where they will be able to receive our service, subject to some remarks I will have to make on the lines in a few moments. It is likely that in the opening stages they will view our programmes and if the programmes are good and if our programmes, even though they reflect our Irish culture and the Irish way of life, are acceptable, we shall get the viewers. If we can get the viewers we can get through. That is a point that I want to stress. If we do not get the viewers we shall not get through and shall be running this television service at a considerable loss.

There is another angle that one must view with considerable apprehension. Speaking on any Bill in the Dáil, particularly a Bill like this, which may cost the country a considerable amount of money, we must consider the other angles and the repercussions it will have on us. At the moment I am dealing purely with the financial aspect. It is an unquestionable fact that, not only in the United Kingdom, but also in France, Germany, Italy, and in every country in Europe where there is television, and in the United States, cinemas are closing down wholesale. We have got to face that inevitable fact here. We must face the fact that we get over £1,000,000 a year in revenue from the cinemas and that we may lose that revenue. That again imposes a financial obligation on the Exchequer and on the Department of Finance which ultimately will have to have a very big say in this Bill. That is a fact that should not be lost sight of.

Another point that must be considered as well is that if we are to have 300,000 sets here—each set costing £80—those sets will have to be imported. They are not manufactured here. I do not think there is any possibility of manufacturing here such highly technical equipment as television sets. That is going to throw an onus on our balance of payments to an amount somewhere in the neighbourhood of £8,000,000 or £9,000,000. All these are things that have to be considered in the wider context of this Bill and the financial set-up relating to it as a whole.

I cannot help feeling that the recommendation of the Television Commission in regard to private enterprise establishing this service, if at all possible, was worth considering. It may be that the Minister felt we would not have sufficient control to ensure that a private corporation would be true to our way of life, but at the same time, the Television Commission, which was representative of all shades and sections of opinion, appear to have gone into the matter thoroughly. The confidential report, for quite obvious reasons, was not issued but we have reason to believe that there were companies willing to operate here. They were willing to take the risk of running a television service without any charge to the Exchequer whatsoever. In the light of the facts I have been trying to give the House, some of which I believe to be incontrovertible, it is likely that we will lose money. It is likely that there will be a considerable drain on the Exchequer.

It seems to me that the Minister, the Government and the Minister's advisers in the Department might consider allowing it to be initiated by private enterprise. We could have a controlling authority as well. We could have Governmental control to see that matters were not broadcast which were detrimental to Irish interests. Be that as it may, they have taken their decision. I felt it only right to give my views here. I believe it will be a somewhat costly experiment.

The Government were undoubtedly faced with a very difficult situation with regard to the line standard. Several Deputies referred to that matter here. It was also rather extensively referred to in the debates in the Seanad. We are starting up as a new service and if we have any hope of making the service pay, we must increase considerably the number of our sets, which I think is in the neighbourhood of 30,000 or 40,000. It is assumed to be that but there is no definite knowledge there is that number. We must increase that number to several hundred thousands, if we hope to make television pay.

We seem to have an opportunity of striking out on a line for ourselves. It is true to say that if we do not adopt the 405 line standard, the people who already have sets will be unable to get I.T.V. and the B.B.C., which are the only programmes available to us by virtue of their proximity. The Commission, I am glad to say, paid particular attention to the fact that rural Ireland should be considered. Briefly people in the southern half of Ireland at the present moment are unable to get the B.B.C. or I.T.V. Therefore, it is immaterial to them whether the line standard is 405 or 625. Would it not be worth a chance to adopt the 625 line standard which is used in every country in Europe, with the exception of France, which is, I think, on 819? With improved techniques over the years, it is quite possible that Eurovision, which was founded in 1956, may be viewable here in the fairly near future. Those new sets which will be bought in the south cannot get the B.B.C. and I.T.V., but if you give them the 625 line, they will be able to get on that line Irish television. That seems to be to be a sound argument for striking out on our own.

It may be argued that the 30,000 or 40,000 existing sets will be thrown into the ditch. I do not know. I am not a technical expert on T.V. or television sets, but I am reliably informed by those who are supposed to know that the life of a T.V. set is a short one. It is only a matter of some half a dozen years or so. In the ordinary course of events, they would be changing to another type of set. I do not think we would impose any very great hardship by starting on that line.

The Television Commission must have consulted experts on this matter. It is apparently possible for us to transmit on both lines. We can transmit on the 405 and the 625 line standard. By doing that, it would be an encouragement to people to buy sets on the 405 line standard. If they did that, they would be doing it with their eyes open if they found afterwards that the 405 set was becoming obsolete, in the possible event of Britain going over to the 625 line standard. Britain has a habit of changing her mind very often and as far as this country is concerned, I would suggest that the Minister should consider broadcasting in connection with both types of set.

Now for a word on the Authority. It seems to me that the Authority is the key to the whole situation. It would be as terrible thing if in regard to an important matter such as that and with so much money in the balance, we were to have an Authority appointed by the Government without prior knowledge of this important subject. Where we are to find nine men in Ireland who have a sound knowledge of television, I do not know. They certainly should be able to find some. It is of paramount importance for them to make the appointments. Every consideration should be given and every effort should be made to get people who have some knowledge of this very important and difficult subject.

Much, of course, depends on the Director-General, who will have the biggest say and the biggest responsibility in the administration of this service, but it is ultimately the Authority who will be the overruling power and who will take the decision.

I think, it was Deputy Dr. Browne who dealt with the question of Ministerial authority. When the Minister was speaking in the Seanad, he referred to the success of our semi-State institutions. He referred to Bord na Móna, Aer lingus and the E.S.B. but he conveniently forgot to mention C.I.E. Curiously enough, one can ask a Parliamentary Question about Bord na Móna, the E.S.B. and Aer Lingus and get an answer.

Not Aer Lingus.

Well, sometimes, but you can ask a Question about C.I.E. and you get no answer. You are told it is a matter of day-to-day administration. I am not in favour of State control. I think everyone in the House knows that but I feel if we are to spend big sums of public money, as undoubtedly we shall, it will be poor consolation to members of Dáil Éireann, and to the public as a whole, if we come in here and ask a question relative to the affairs of this Authority on some point we believe to be of vital interest and of vital necessity, to be told that it is a matter of day-to-day administration and that the Minister concerned has no authority.

The Minister is mentioned pretty frequently in this Bill. In fact, he comes into practically every section, and I should like him to make a categorical statement, when replying, as to whether Deputies will be dealing with a semi-State body such as the E.S.B., Board na Móna, or Aer Lingues, or whether the answers they get will be the same as in the case of C.I.E. If the latter is to be the case, it will be a regrettable state of affairs in relation to a Bill such as this.

I am not quite happy about Section 12 which deals with appointments. In television services outside this country, there are Irish people who are experts, people who have served largely in the offices of the B.B.C., who would probably be prepare to come back to their own country and give it the benefit of their experience. It is quite obvious that the Authority will have to call on the advice of outside experts because we have not those people here at present. We do command expert personnel in sound broadcasting but we shall require other experts for television. The point I want to make is that many Irishmen working abroad, commanding good salaries, would probably be prepared to come back and work at home, because, in the final analysis, everybody likes his own country if he can get a living in it. Does this Bill, as it is drafted, give security to these people? In other words, can someone who is an expert in television come back to employment here and be assured that he will have full safeguards with regard to service and pension rights?

There are a couple of points of importance, and one of supreme importance, which I feel must be discussed on the Second Reading of this Bill. The first has to do with the types of association, the type of authority, to run the whole service and there I am completely in favour of what the Bill intends. I have the feeling that Deputy Dr. Browne has mis-read the Commission's Report; at least he has misunderstood what they wrote. Undoubtedly they speak of a service based on private enterprise. I am referring to page 23, paragraph 61, where they set out three possible ways in which it would be possible to establish a television service in this country and they opt for the second of these, private enterprises financed mainly by revenue from advertisements.

They were led to that conclusion by their terms of reference which were discussed during the debate on the Estimate for Posts and Telegraphs last year, and which were accepted as being narrowly restrictive. They were asked to investigate the establishment of a television service on the basis that on charge should fall on the Exchequer. The excuse was made that there was no State capital available at the time, which was as lame an excuse as was the authority behind the particular terms of reference. However, they did conclude that it should not be a public service financed from licence fees and advertisements, with no Exchequer expenses, nor a public service financed by licene fees and public funds. They rule these more or less out and they came down in the end on the one proposal that was possible within their terms of reference.

They said the third one involved submitting information to the Commission on a confidential basis and, therefore, they left the matter over and decided on private enterprise, financed mainly by revenue from advertisements, but, in that connection, they pointed out there would be a great deal of trouble in resorting to advertisements, Of course, a private enterprise authority would seek to make as much money as it could from advertisements. They were completely against that and pointed out the undesirable results that might follow from that angle, but, as now indicated in the Bill, advertising will be under the control of the Authority and that will reduce the danger.

I do not think this will be any great success but I feel that, experimental as it is, it must be tried on the basis of as Authority as suggested in the Bill. However, that does not mean I am in favour of the set-up of the Authority and of the special powers given to the Minister. It is completely outside the realm of consideration that a service of this type should be handed over to private enterprise and that a private body should be allowed to rale in as much as it could from advertising, but advertising under the control of a public authority, even in this type of legislation, is an entirely different matter.

I would be all in favour of public control but that does not necessarily mean this type of body. When I say that, I must not be taken as accepting what the Minister said in the Seanad when winding up the discussion on this matter, that our State-sponsored bodies had, on the whole, been successful. As examples he mentioned three of them: the E.S.B., Bord na Móna and Aer Lingus. It was unfortunate for him that in the year in which he was speaking, the E.S.B., for the first time, had gone into the red and had indicated through the mouth of its chairman that it was likely to be in the red for a second year. It was also unfortunate in that year that Aer Lingus, judged entirely by its operating expenses, had gone into the red and, of course, it must be remembered that Aer Lingues is free in respect of certain services provided by the State, that is, the airports and their maintenance. and I doubt very much if Aer Lingus will ever be able to make an attempt to repay the capital put at its disposal in its formative years.

Bord na Móna, of course, hit a record low in the year in which the Minister was speaking. I think it was a race between themselves and Aer Linte as to which would produce the worse loss in a particular year. The loss that was estimated for the first year's working of Aer Linte was £900,000 and I gather that that estimate has certainly been fulfilled. One did not feel any great surprise that Bord na Móna, particularly in the year that was in it, might get into the red but that they should go into the red to the extent of £900,000 and confess that it may take many years before they get on a proper footing was something surprising.

As Deputy Esmonde said, the Minister sheared away from C.I.E. C.I.E. are supposed to make their concern pay in a couple of years but the progress, or lack of progress, made in the last year, and particularly the increaseing losses incurred since the package deal with regard to goods was established by the C.I.E. authorities, does not bode well for the future of that concern. That is the matter that causes most anxiety in connection with this legislation. I know that Minister will reply at the end that such matters will be dealt with by the Authority—that once the Authority is established they will be responsible for making changes in policy and that they will have to measure their expenditure by whatever revenue they find it possible to secure.

The Minister is bringing in legislation having in it the suggestion that it is the duty of the Authority:

so to conduct its affairs as to secure that its revenue becomes at the earliest possible date, and thereafter continues, at least sufficient—

(a) to meet all sums properly chargeable to current account, and

(b) to make suitable provision with respect to capital expenditure.

That could not be written into a piece of legislation if it were seriously meant unless there were at least something approaching a realistic estimate of the costs that will be imposed on the Authority and the revenue they will derive.

I want to go back to the Commission's Report. The Commission did say that they thought that, on foot of licensing fees and advertising revenue, the Authority could meet in its third year of operation what they regarded as likely expenditure and which they set out in page 19 of the Report. They estimate that "managerial, technical and other fixed charges" will be about £300,000. They refer to that also in page 16 where they say that expenditure "would be of the order of £300,000 a year." I myself felt, and I think I said it to the Minister on his Estimate, that some of the items are capable of more exact finding than that given here "of the order of £300,000 a year." Let us take it that that is an estimate made by the members of the Commission with information supplied to them.

Now let me pass to the other side of the account. They say that the total licence revenue would be £360,000. which would roughly balance—there would be a little bit in hand—the managerial, technical and other fixed charges. That it is based on a £3 licence and on the basis that there might be 120,000 sets in the country at the end of the three-year period. From that £360,000 they subtract the cost of collection, which they put at about 12 per cent. leaving a figure of £330,000. The figure of £4 for a licence is in the air. If one takes a £4 licence, takes 120,000 sets and makes the same subtraction for the cost of collection, that £330,000 would rise by about £110,000. Roughly £440,000 would be derived from licences and £300,000 would be paid for managerial, technical and other fixed charges. But that is only if the number of sets had risen to 120,000 at the end of three years. On that basis the Authority would start with about £100,000 per annum in hand.

The other two things that have to be balanced are cost of programmes as against advertising revenue. The Commission thought that programmes might cost £350,000 and that advertising revenue would bring in about the same, so that there is about a balance achieved. But surely the Minister must have some estimate given to him by his Department as to how the revenue for advertisements will be secured, what will be the charges per minute, how many advertisers he thinks there will be and what will be the number of viewers? It is on the number of viewers that the advertising can be made attractive to those who want to advertise. There are calculations one can make, but again there are many floating items.

In page 17 of the Report and the next couple of pages, the Commission based their figures on this: that they thought the number of programme hours of the Television Authority would probably be around 30 a week, of which 25 per cent. would be "live programmes" and the balance would be of "filmed or tape-recorded material". At 30 hours a week—and one quarter of that would be live—it would mean that the Irish people, whatever the expenditure will be, will have about an hour a day of live show and three hours a day of what is called "filmed and tape-recorded material". In the 30 hours a week my calculation is that that runs to something short of 1,600 hours in the year.

One has to find out then what the programmes will cost and how much per minute will bring in the sum required to meet the expenditure on programmes. Taking the Commission's figures of £350,000, let me start off with this. How is £350,000 to be raised if we want to have 30 hours per week or four hours per day? That depends on how much time of the four hours will be devoted to advertising. Suppose one took five minutes per hour or 20 minutes per day of the four hours. That would mean that this £350,000 could be raised by advertisers who would subscribe £50 for a minute's advertising.

Fifty pounds is a large sum for a minute's advertising. It is not like a poster. The Commission say there is about £3,000,000 spent in the country on advertising through posters, the cinema and other forms. But the poster would not be so expensive; it would not cost anything like the equivalent of £50 a minute. Advertising is put on between the showing of pictures in the cinemas. I do not know what that costs, but there must be some idea. An estimate could be arrived at from the cinema people as to what is paid for advertising per minute. Fifty pounds a minute, I suggest, is a big sum. Of course, my figures can be messed around because if, instead of having five minutes per hour of the television, one has ten minutes per hour, then £25 will meet the situation.

But that is only on the basis that £350,000 has to be met as the charge for originating the programme. Again it is easy to make a calculation. Thirty hours a week, less than 1,600 hours per year, are to bring in £350,000 by programmes costing roughly £220 per hour. I turn again to the Minority Report in this matter. I find there a statement which has not been contradicted and to which I drew attention previously. In paragraph 22, page 64, of the Minority Report, they say:

A consideration of the costing for Irish programmes...proposed by three applicant groups for the Irish Television concession who are wholly or a partly engaged in British commercial television at this point is revealing. Their proposed programme costs ranged from just under £140 per hour to £190 per hour (maximum).

On a basis of £220 per hour, the figure is £350,000. But the Minority Report goes on to say that the cost of the B.B.C. programmes per hour was £1,538 in 1956-57: it was £1,730 for sixty minutes in 1958 and it has increased considerably since then. They say that B.B.C. expenditure on programmes is about nine times the amount which it is proposed to spend on Irish television programmes. The costs of the Independent Television programmes are not comparable but the Commission ends up by saying that £800 to £1,000 per hour would be a conservative estimate. I am told that the cost of Independent Television programmes are now considerably higher than the B.B.C. costs and would be about £3,000 per hour.

Have we any great expectations that on the basis of £50 a minute, advertising would bring in £350,000? Suppose that figure rises to £1,200 per minute, it means that the figure of £350,000 would become £3,200,000. A tremendous increase in the advertising revenue would be necessary before that figure could be reached, and of course, it depends on a number of variables. There may be more than five minutes in the hour for advertising. That may go to ten minutes in the hour. Advertisers may believe that they will get a good return from 100,000 viewers and they may be prepared to pay more than £50 a minute. It is a considerable sum to ask people to pay in this country where the number of viewers will be limited.

According to the Commission's Report, there were about 20,000 sets in this country in May, 1958. The number is now substantially higher. The Commission took various estimates for the purposes of their Report and their most conservative estimate was that in the third year there would be approximately 120,000 sets. Suppose there are 120,000 sets. There would be more than one viewer to a set but what will be the value to advertisers of 120,000 sets with a showing time of four hours, of which only one hour would be a live show and three hours would be recorded or filmed material? Those are the calculations that the business man will make as to whether he will permit himself the luxury of advertising on the Irish television service.

This is a question of supreme importance because it is vital to know whether we are establishing another C.I.E. or whether we are establishing a body that will pay for itself. The estimates vary very widely indeed. Why the Commission accepted the estimate that the originating programmes would cost only about £220 an hour when they had before them the evidence of what they cost the B.B.C. and Independent Television, I do not know. Possibly the Minister has before him additional information and confidential matter sent to him by the Commission. which is not available to us, but if he has, he should throw some light on the matter. As things go, I see no hope whatever of this Authority paying its way. I do not see that there will be any attraction, with the limited number of viewers, to business people to advertiseat the rate required to meet the heavy cost of producing the programmes.

I admit that there will be live shows which will probably cost more to produce than recorded shows. I admit also that it is quite likely that the Irish live show will cost less to produce than the same type produced by the British services because they probably go in for more decoration and illumination. It is within that framework that the Minister ought to give us the important information we have not got. It ought to be possible at this stage, before we establish this Authority, to know if they are being put in a reasonable position to carry out the duty imposed on them under Section 24 that they must, within the earliest possible time, secure that their revenue will meet expenditure.

What does the Minister mean by the "earliest possible time"? Is it to be a never-never affair, and will we have to continue making subventions in support of the service until we got into the habit of regarding it as a type of social service that must be carried, not by those to whom the television services gives entertainment, but by the general taxpayer? It is only within that framework that one can view such matters as are spoken of here.

There has to be great attention paid to the Irish language. In paragraph 17 of the Report, it is stated that the Authority has to bear constantly in mind the national aim of restoring the Irish language and of providing for the national culture. That is a very laudable objective, but put it before the advertiser and he is going to ask how much of our 30 hours per week will be devoted to the restoring of the Irish language. You will then see what demand or space you will see when the advertiser sees that a considerable amount of our time is to be devoted to Irish or to promoting the restoration of the language.

The Authority are prohibited from accepting an advertisement of a religious or political nature or one relating to an industrial dispute and are also told that they should have regard to special conditions for advertisers in the Irish language. Preferential rates are to be given where the advertisement is wholly or substantially in Irish. What is to be the preferential rate in favour of those who come within the scope of paragraph (b) of subsection 5 of Section 20? That differential must mount up the extra charges to be imposed on those who do not advertise in the Irish language.

These are all things that have to be considered. When I hear so much serious talk about the effect that Irish television will have on Irish life and our disability to realise how much our fundamental way of life may be changed by television, I begin to wonder if we are serious about this matter at all. I do not think our national culture or any of these fundamental points will be very seriously harmed by 30 hours a week, one of which only will be live material, and the other periods, say, 21 or 22 hours, will be imported material for television which will already have been passed and scrutinised by foreign viewers. How this would have a beneficial effect on our Irish culture, our religion and our fundamental attitude, I fail to see.

There is a third important matter with regard to the Authority and how it is to conduct itself. There will be many views on this matter, but, so far as I am concerned, it was found out to a conclusion many years ago when we first thought of establishing the Electricity Supply Board. There were prolonged debates in this House, and they were good debates, on what the composition of that Board was likely to be, on what powers it should be given, and whether it should be open to a day-to-day inquiry with regard to its procedure, or whether it was only for matters of general policy that the Minister would have to answer. The general conclusion reached was that we could not have an authority if it ning a service like electricity if it were to be subject to day-to-day inquiry about charges made in different areas or complaints made by consumers. A compromise was arrived at and it was a pretty good one.

The compromise arrived at was nearly the same as we have in this Bill but it was not entirely followed. There was a compromise between those who thought the Shannon Board should be under detailed scrutiny by way of Parliamentary Question every day Dáil Éireann met, and those who thought it must be trusted within a period of a financial year and then brought to book at the end of that year for anything that was wrong. The compromise established was that the Board's accounts should be made up by their own staff, first of all, and then investigated by a duly qualified outside auditor appointed by the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, and that the fees and expenses of that body of auditors would be paid by the Electricity Supply Board itself. An addition was made which did not satisfy those who wanted a day-to-day examination that, while in view of the fact that it was a new service it was right that it should be given some time to grow, it should be kept under scrutiny at the end of each year. The arrangement was made and it was publicly announced—it was backed by guarantees given in this House—and the Minister, when he was appointing the auditors, made it clear that the accounts of the Board would be scrutinised in the most exacting way.

It was also here by public pledge established that if there was anything during the year which caused any sort of public disquiet, the Minister who was in charge would take note of it and would ask the outside auditors to report and that whatever power of investigation he had he would apply to investigate anything which needed public inquiry during the year. They would report to the Minister on that matter and again it was established— the same phrase occurs here—that it would be the responsibility of the Minister to see that the outside auditor in investigating the accounts would be apprised of anything which had come to the notice of the Minister as causing any sort of public disquiet. It was for the Minister to direct the auditors not as to what they were to find but as to what they should inquire into.

A public pledge was given that if after that, in relation to the report or the accounts, both to be read together, there was any substantial body of opinion in this House that desired a debate on the matter, a day or two would be set aside for that purpose. I think the Minister should give the same pledge now with regard to this Authourity in that way and I would then agree that the best way for that would be not to have a day-to-day inquiry but to have it at the end of the year and the Authority would be subject to an inquisition by a body of auditors who would not be their own auditors but whom they would have to pay, auditors who would be appointed by the Minister to make that inquisition into anything which had caused disquiet during the year. After they reported, if there was any substantial number of people, not a majority of the House, but a substantial number, demanding a debate, a debate would be given.

The result has been that there never has been a debate in Dáil Éireann on anything to do with the accounts of the E.S.B., or their reports, because the accounts are presented in the most detailed way and the outside auditors have directed their attention to those things that had caused certain questions amongst the public. The Report obviously met with the satisfaction of the Ministry for the time. If that is not done, then I think we would have to go back to this other plan. A compromise would have to be found as between the type of thing established under Section 25 and inquisition by way of Parliamentary Question.

May I say at once that I realise tht there is a difference between a body like the Broadcasting Authority and the E.S.B. The E.S.B. has to give the same service to everybody. There is no variation in its performance from week to week, whereas it is variety we are looking for so far as this Authority is concerned, and there are many points on which the whole matter cannot go according to a prearranged plan lasting for 12 months. There must be variations from day to day. Questions will be asked about the programmes and about certain people who appear on the television service whose performances were not up to what is considered right by, say, a number of people in Parliament here. The Television Authority is more vulnerable to day-to-day inquiry than C.I.E. or the E.S.B. As I say, it impacts in different ways at different times on the public and, therefore, there is greater reason to have some inquisition of a day-to-day type.

There is one matter I want to speak on in this connection. The Commission have pointed out that all this will be very costly on the Irish people. It is not the immediate impact from licensing which is very costly—I think it is £3 or £4, which is not terribly heavy— but on page 19, paragraph 47, the Commission say:

It is important to emphasise that, irrespective of what form Irish television may take, the costs involved will in the ultimate result have to be borne by the Irish people. These costs will be very heavy. The capital cost of the television system (£1-£1¼ million) will be a relatively small part of the total costs involved. At an average cost of, say, £80 per set——

and that is about the price—

——100,000 receiving sets will cost some £8,000,000.

Taking that figure of £8,000,000, if we get to 200,000 sets on which the Commission base their estimate, it will mean more than £16,000,000. In addition, that paragraph says:

The maintenance and replacement costs of receiving sets will represent a substantial sum each year. In addition, viewers may expect to be charged a licence fee, and the Irish purchasing public will bear the cost of advertising programmes. This last point is apt to be overlooked, but advertisers on Irish television will pass on their costs to the consumer.

Again, we get back to the costs of advertising. Supposing we have only 200,000 sets and the £16,000,000 that is to be spent on them, with the cost of maintenance of those sets, which, I saw recently, is quite a substantial sum, bear in mind that the cost of advertising will be reflected in the cost of the goods advertised. All advertising has to be charged upon the public. When one thinks of all that must we not be given the answer to the question: What are we to get in return?—30 hours per week, one hour live show and the rest imported, tinned material. For that, these costs will put upon people, who are willing to bear them, but, in any event, they are a new drain upon the resources of people, on the moneys they get for the services they render to the community and it is a serious matter. All that has to be considered in this connection.

More serious still and more dismaying is that we are being asked to do all that, without being given the slightest hint by the Minister, either in his speech in the Seanad or here, of what the advertising costs will be, what this is all based on, and if he has considered the cost of the originating programmes in this country. That may amount to a very much larger sum than the Commission suggest in their Report.

In connection with the Authority and their accounts and audits, this has to be borne in mind: apart altogether from the costs of the sets and everything else, there will be a good deal of money spent in connection with programmes. How are these programmes to be arranged? Somebody will have to make contracts for them. There will definitely be a commission paid on contracts. Has the Minister yet arranged, with regard to those contracts, who is to get the control of them and who is to get the very valuable commissions that are bound to arise from them, will that be a matter that will be referred to in the accounts and audits as they are produced at the end of each year and in regard to the auditor whom the Minister sends in and asks to make a report, first of all, with regard to the various costs of the service themselves and also with regard to how the Authority is conduction itself, will the Minister guarantee in this House—it is a thing which should be guaranteed—that one of the points specially to be regarded and to be taken up in any report presented to the House will be the recipients of all this—not so much the members of the Authority, not who the Director is, not what his salary is, but how the spread of money is being arranged and whether it is being channelled into certain hands and, if so, into what hands is it being channelled and why are people being selected for this lucrative business instead of others?

I should like to take this opportunity of commenting briefly on the principles of the Bill. It is proposed to set up a Broadcasting Authority and to provide an Irish television service. I wonder if the Government have really sought an answer to one question, namely, whether in present economic circumstances expenditure on a television service is necessary? When one takes into consideration the record of the Government over the past 28 years, their extravagant and wild spending, one is not surprised that, at a time when there is a record unemployment problem unsolved, a record drain from rural Ireland in emigration, a cost of living unprecendented in height, old age pensioners, widows, orphans, blind and disabled persons put to the pin of their collars to eke out an existence, these problems fade into pale insignificance compared with the necessity to provide the rich with a television service.

I am not opposed to the Bill but I feel a Deputy is entitled to offer criticism of any legisaltion passing through the House. For that reason, a broad, honest expression of opinion on a Bill of this kind is very necessary. The ordinary person in the country can read in the paper or hear on the radio the amount of the time of this House and of Seanad Eireann that is occupied on the question of the provision of a television service for the well-off sections of the community.

Deputy McGilligan has mentioned the number of television sets already in the country. I see in parts of the city increasing numbers of television aerials. I have not spent a great length of time viewing television because I do not mix with the class of people in my constituency who have television sets. The people I know are very lucky to have radios. The people I represent are more concerned with work and with an improvement in their standard of living than they are with television.

I suppose that if the whole world is advancing, it cannot be expected that this country should remain at the tailend. Modern conditions present luxuries and I suppose we have to be in the queue for them. There are very few people in this country who can afford to pay £80 to £100 for a television set. At least, the people for whom I claim to speak in this House cannot. In that case, are we not legislating for a very limited section of the community? This is a Bill to serve those who want to enter into hire purchase agreements and to sink themselves in debt for television sets or is it to provide a pleasure and pastime for people who are anxious to spend their time viewing television?

I wonder if the Minister and his advisers have gone sufficintly deeply into this matter. On the appointed day, when this Bill becomes law, are they ready to move into action and to provide the programmes?

If the proposed television service is to be anything like Radio Éireann, I ask the Minister to drop the matter because Radio Éireann is not alone disgusting but it provides probably the most useless broadcasting service that any broadcasting authority in the would could put on the air. Does the Minister really know, or are he and his Department living in the clouds, that the moment the news is over, every voice in the country unites in saying: "Turn it off. Get Radio Luxembourg, A.F.N., the B.B.C. Light programme"? I have yet to go into a house in rural Ireland where Radio Éireann is being listened to, apart from a Sunday when a match in Croke Park or a provincial town is being broadcast or the news.

It is reaching the stage where, particularly because of political intervention in news items and through sheer disgust, the great majority of our people are even refusing to listen to the news items on Radio Éireann. Many of the programmes over Radio Éireann are now becoming politically hurtful and abusive. I do not know if this is the right occasion to raise it but if we are faced with a television problem similar to that of the radio service it is about time we had a showdown on the matter. Radio Éireann as it is administered today is most unsatisfactory and is used entirely to further the interests of a political Party. I challenge the Minister on this.

We have a great deal of evidence in this connection. News items broadcast over Radio Éireann afford a typical example. I had occasion to write to the Director of Broadcasting because I was refused information in this House concerning the broadcast of news items. If we cannot table a question in this House to inquire into the details of certain television programmes, I submit we are heading for a state of affairs in which this House will be voting millions of pounds for a service in relation to which we cannot ask a single question. The reason I resent the present activities of Radio Éireann is the political tinge attached to everything that is carried on there.

May we discuss Radio Éireann?

Yes, we may under the Bill. Does any Deputy remember any news programme in which the Minister for Transport and Power, Deputy Childers, was not mentioned? If any Deputy listens carefully to the reports that come from Radio Éireann each evening he will hear that "Radio Éireann regret to announce the death which occurred today of So-and-So who died at his residence, such-and-such a place"; they go on to say he was a member of such-and-such a company of the I.R.A., that he was associated with the fight for freedom and that his funeral will take place after 11 o'clock Mass to such and such a cemetery. There are a number of members on this side of the House who were never mentioned because they were on this side of the House.

I make special reference to the announcement of the death of Senator Baxter, to the announcement of the death of Senator John O'Leary and the recent announcement of the death of Deputy Joseph Hughes. That was the last item mentioned. On a day when we heard three times the broadcast of news items in relation to difficulties in Algeria, the announcement of the death of Deputy Hughes came only once over Radio Éireann. There was no such thing as an announcement of funeral arrangements, but when the brother of the chairman of the Agricultural Credit Corporation, Mr. Considine, died there were full details given over Radio Éireann of the funeral arrangements. That is why Deputies who are concerned about the manner in which the taxpayers' money is spent must protest against money being used in this manner and against Radio Éireann being used for sheer political purposes. If the television Authority is to be used in the same way it will be used to build up Fianna Fáil and to build up those who believe in Fianna Fáil.

In regard to the programmes over Radio Eireann the vast majority of our people know and speak the English language and when they hear the English language being spoken they know what is going on, but they do not know what is going on when they hear Irish over Radio Éireann. It is all right to have a programme in Irish broadcast over Radio Éireann but to be stuffing it down the necks of the listeners, five and six times between 5 o'clock and 11.30 at night, is too much for them. That is why the younger people will tell you every tune that is played on Radio Luxembourg. They will tell you the times when Bing Crosby's records will be played. They will tune in on Sunday night to hear the Top Twenty but you will never hear Radio Éireann except in a really patriotic house, and they are very few. Radio Éireann is silent so far as many people are concerned. The reason they pay licences to have wireless sets is to hear the B.B.C., A.F.N. and Radio Luxembourg, but their period of listening in to Radio Éireann is very limited.

Somebody recently gave a review of a book on Arthur Griffith; I think the writer's name was McGuinness. Only yesterday I sent a letter to the Director of Broadcasting to get a copy of that script, which I hope I shall get. I am sure it was edited by somebody in Radio Éireann when Radio Éireann was used to attack certain people on this side of the House.

On a point of order, the script was not edited by anybody in Radio Éireann.

It was not edited by anyone in Radio Éireann? I am very pleased to hear that admission from the Minister. It was a slander of Professor Hayes, General Mulcahy and other people who were close comrades of the late President Griffith.

What about the slander in the book?

They went on to use Radio Éireann to slander General Mulcahy, the late Seán Milroy and other honourable Irishmen, decent men, and here we are told by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs it was not censored.

I wonder if I went into Radio Éireann would I be allowed a few minutes to broadcast on the men opposite or on the men outside this House in high positions who are not worthy to walk in the footsteps of General Mulcahy, Seán Milroy, and all the other worthy men who have been dragged into the muck? In connection with this book on Arthur Griffith, will the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs say that was not a disgraceful attack on General Mulcahy, that it was not an attempt to discredit before Irish listeners——

I do not think the speech the Deputy is delivering has anything to do with the principle enshrined in this Bill, the principle of impartiality. Furthermore, I did intend making a statement on the matter he is raising but I shall not make it with any reference to the method by which it is being raised here by Deputy Flanagan.

Deputy Flanagan is quite justified in raising this matter and in discussing it. We may say that wireless broadcasting being a medium of which we have experience, there is a danger the television service may go the same way as the wireless broadcasting programmes have gone in recent times.

I want to safeguard this House and, if I can, the country from the television service going in the same direction as the present radio service. I am entitled to compare what we have experienced with what we are likely to experience when Fianna Fáil set up the new Authority. There is a motive behind everything this Government does and it was always an ill-conceived, evil political motive; otherwise they would not be there for 28 years. Here we have a Bill to set up a television service and here we have a broadcasting Authority of nine members to be appointed. I bet the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs knows whom he will appoint.

There will be a few ex-Fianna Fáil T.D.s We have Bord na gCon as the example of that. There may be loyal ex-Fianna Fáil civil servants. We have Bord na Móna and Mr. O'Donovan as an example of that.

The Deputy may not discuss that on this Bill.

I do not propose to discuss them but I have a right to say what I have to say about the proposed appointment. I put it to this House that, if there are nine members on this broadcasting Authority, at least seven of the nine will be Fianna Fáil hacks.

There are four there already and they are not Fianna Fáil hacks.

The Minister says four are there already. All he has to do is to get five more and the whole thing is packed.

But the four of them are not Fianna Fáil Party men.

Semi-State concerns such as C.I.E., Aer Linte, Aer Lingus and Bord na Móna were mentioned. I respectfully submit that the broadcasting Authority will be appointed in the same way as those other semi-State bodies to which the Government appointed directors.

The composition of other boards does not relevantly arise.

I have asked the Minister in all seriousness and sincerity to depart completely and entirely from the present broadcasting system. If he intends to introduce a television service based on the same principle, I ask him in the name of the taxpayers to drop the matter. I warn him that even if a political broadcasting authority should be appointed, we shall not have, please God, a Fianna Fáil Government for ever. I warn, if I may, everybody connected with the service that that change may come sooner than is expected.

In the event of political appointments, such as we have seen and experienced in recent years to similar authorities, to the Authority proposed to be set up under this Bill, I hope and trust some Government will look upon it as their duty to dispense with the services of political hacks and to put in, instead, the best men with the experience and the technical and practical knowledge of the work that must be performed in order efficiently to discharge their duties in connection with the code of broadcasting.

We shall have the "ins" and the "outs".

Can the Minister tell the House what type of programme it is proposed to make available on the proposed Irish television service? Deputy McGilligan tells us the time available will be not alone extremely costly but very limited. Are we to have on our television the same type of tripe as we see from the British television service? If we are to have only an hour, approximately, available on our television service and if the balance is to be in the nature of films or imported television shows already shown elsewhere, what method of censorship will there be?

I presume the board will carry out the censoring. If we adopt the same pattern as the British television service, God help the young people of this country who will be looking at it. Programmes were put on the British television service which brought disgust to any decent person, programmes which were unfit for children. We have reached the stage here now where few country children retire early to bed as they did in the days when we were all going to school and when we had to pop into bed between 6 and 7 p.m. You will find children up now in country houses as well as in the cities at 10 and 10.30 p.m.

If the adults sit down to view television, anybody with a family knows that unless there is very stern control, the children will be very unwilling if somebody says: "To bed with the children." In most cases, they will sit with the adults and view the programmes. The control and discipline of children has seriously relaxed— no blame to the Government, naturally enough, for that. Like television, that phenomenon is a product of the age in which we live.

If we subject our children to some of the imported television shows that have already been shown on television in Britain, will there not be an outcry? For example, will we witness some of the television shows that were lapped up by the British people such as when prostitutes were interviewed on television?

The Minister is not responsible for British programmes.

Yes. I am asking the Minister——

The Deputy is not getting an answer from the Minister.

It is no harm to ask the Minister. If we are to have a television service, I am entitled to ask the Minister and if I cannot ask him with the permission of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, then I am afraid I shall have to seek someone in higher authority in this Party to see that I am allowed to ask the questions connected with television which I feel I am entitled to ask. I am keeping within the bounds of the Bill and that I propose to do.

That is a matter for the Chair. The Chair feels that the Deputy is out of order in discussing British programmes, for which the Minister has no responsibility.

Now may I ask the Minister if it is proposed that some of the imported television shows, when we rebroadcast them on our new service, will be similar to productions on British television which were viewed by people in this country with their present television sets?

The Minister has no responsibility for those shows.

He will set up an Authority. Will the Authority he will set up under this Bill allow that type of programme to be shown on our television service? I want to go further. We have seen on British television the most delicate personal and family medical problems. I ask the Minister if the same pattern will be adopted in our imported television films?

This television service will not be run by Beelzebub but by nine responsible people.

I want to warn the nine responsible people before they are appointed, if I may—

Go up to the Gallery.

——that if they take such television films from the British, it would be better if this country never experienced the advent of television.

Again, similar to the television shows I have referred to, we have seen on television which was viewed in this country the most delicate hospital operations.

The Deputy is continuing to discuss shows for which the Minister has no responsibility. It does not arise on the Bill.

I see. I suppose it does not arise on the Bill but the broadcasting Authority are likely to be confronted with problems of this kind. If this Bill is passed in its present form, and if a show is put on of the character I have described, I shall be debarred from putting down a Question in this House asking for information about it. Surely I am entitled to raise the question now, as the Bill is in its early stages in this House? I should be entitled to ask the question in some shape or form.

The Deputy will have no reason to put down a question.

Might I call the attention of the Chair and the Minister to Section 16, subsection (3), paragraph (c) of the Bill which authorises the Authority to originate programmes and procure programmes from any source——

That is right.

——and surely Deputy O.J. Flanagan is entitled to put it to the Minister that the Authority, when established, should at least be cautious in the sources from which it procures its programmes? As I understand it, that is Deputy O.J. Flanagan's point.

In reply to Deputy O'Higgins, the Authority will be as much concerned with the moral standards of this country and the programmes as Deputy O.J. Flanagan.

I am not questioning that in any way. My point is purely one of order, as to what is relevant on this measure. It seems to me that under the terms of the Bill Deputy O.J. Flanagan is entitled to advise caution as to the source from which programmes will be chosen.

In reply to Deputy O'Higgins, I take it that the Minister will then be responsible for programmes mentioned by the Deputy but the Minister can take no responsibility for the programmes mentioned by Deputy O.J. Flanagan and therefore I am ruling it out of order.

Very well; I shall unreservedly accept the ruling of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, but I do advise the Minister to have caution. I am sure that an opportunity will arise in the course of the Estimate, when the Bill is passed and the Authority set up, to go into the matter. Therefore it is no harm for the Minister to be forewarned that the stream which he has now successfully evaded may have to be crossed when the time comes. As we cannot mention the proposed type of programmes to be shown on television, I want to refer to the fact that in this Bill we are told that the Authority will have full power to appoint staff.

When the Minister appoints the Authority, and I have already prophesied the type of Authority he will appoint, and naturally enough if nine, or even seven good, loyal supporters of the Government are appointed——

It could not be seven; there are three Opposition people there already.

Well, the majority, which will be Fianna Fáil appointed——

I do not think so.

The Minister may not think so. I know very well that the Minister is a decent man but it might be that this matter could be put across without his knowledge. We have had experience of Fianna Fáil Bills in this House. I have had 17 years of them and maybe he is telling the truth. I do not for one moment doubt him.

There are very eminent people in Fianna Fáil you know.

They would be useful on any Authority for the nation.

I agree. We have seen the eminent people from Fianna Fáil associated with our other State bodies and State boards, some of them not with any great amount of credit. As soon as the Authority is set up, the staff will be appointed and the Authority will then get busy in the service and elsewhere to recruit the right type of staff. Naturally enough, membership of Fianna Fáil will qualify them for any position of trust or responsibility under that Authority. Unless this is to be a different type of Authority from any other Authority set up by Fianna Fáil —and I doubt that it will be—unless it is different in every aspect, that is the line that will be taken.

There will be public competition.

Did the Minister say something?

There will be public competition as provided for in this section.

Yes. We know about the competition. There is a competition for every State appointment; yet 98 per cent of them are Fianna Fáil. No matter what competition there is, 98 per cent——

All the brains are in Fianna Fáil.

The Minister says all the brains are in Fianna Fáil. There is an admission for the records of the House.

That must be the reason.

The Minister has stated that all the brains are in Fianna Fáil.

They are able to get the top position in the examinations.

The Minister tells us all the brains are in Fianna Fáil. You need have no brains whatever. All the brains required is to have a membership card for one shilling and then you have your brain qualifications in the form of the blue card. I respectfully put it to the House again that this will be another political set-up, that it will be similar to the other political set-ups and that it will be a serious source of financial liability to the taxpayer and that the unfortunate taxpayer will be asked to pay the bill.

The Bill, however, goes further than that. It says that Irish culture and the Irish language are to be fostered and sponsored. Does that mean that under this proposed service we are to have practically everything Irish, Irish dances, Irish songs? And in any English that is spoken, are we to have the most extraordinary, ignorant old brogue that belittles Irish, which we hear over the radio week after week? I want to ask the Minister to answer this question, if it is possible. The G.A.A., which is a very reputable, wealthy, sincere association, influential and non-political—mar dhea—but at the same time very cute, represents a large section of our people. Naturally enough, they will be very eager to have all their matches, or many of their important matches, on our new television service. I want to know, if we are to sponsor Irish pastimes and games, does it mean that rugby, soccer, tennis and golf are to be debarred?

And cricket.

And cricket. There are extraordinary admissions coming from the Minister. He may be humorous——

The Deputy is on a very sticky wicket.

——but they are very valuable. The Fianna Fáil Party got into office by supporting Irish games and Irish pastimes. Now that they are in office, as we experienced last week, when they were at the rugby match——

I am afraid the Deputy is wandering from the terms of the Bill.

I am not wandering from the Bill. I want to know if the new broadcasting Authority is to sponsor Irish culture, Irish games and pastimes, are rugby, tennis, soccer and golf and cricket tournaments to be cut out completely? There is a huge section of our community who are not followers of Gaelic pastimes or sports—in the sense of the word—but who are equally good Irishmen and as good sports, with their love of such pastimes as soccer, tennis, golf and rugby——

And they go to Croke Park.

——as the man who goes to Croke Park. I can foresee trouble in the broadcasting service. I can see the Authority using the terms of this Bill to say: "Your rugby match will not be televised. Your soccer match or your rugby match will not be on because we have something from Croke Park or elsewhere to put on."

The Bill says that we must advocate Irish games, Irish language and Irish pastimes. I submit that rugby, soccer, tennis and the good old game of cricket are as good Irish pastimes as ever Gaelic football or hurling was. You have as good Irishmen on the playing pitches in those other games. You have as good sportsmen looking on at those matches. I am not belittling G.A.A. matches but you have as good and as sincere Irishmen playing those games as you have playing the games that, in accordance with this Bill, are regarded as Irish and Gaelic sports and pastimes.

There is nothing about games and pastimes in the Bill at all.

Culture is mentioned in it. The Chair will be the best judge as to whether my interpretation of the Bill is right or not. I submit that the Irish language and Irish pastimes are to be given preference in this new television set-up. In the allocation of time for these important pastimes, I trust that the G.A.A. will be given their share of time but not at the expense——

Is pitch and toss one of those pastimes?

The Minister may be more familiar with pitch and toss than I am. I do not know much about it.

There are a good many of the Minister's colleagues who know more about pitch and toss than the people over here.

The game of pitch and toss does not arise.

It is not mentioned in the Bill.

The question of pitch and toss was not introduced from this side of the House. We are above that pastime. I was endeavouring, when the Minister intervened with the remark about what is probably his favourite pastime, to warn the House that when it comes to the allocation of time for the putting of these matches on our television service the Gaelic games will be given their share but not at the expense of the fans and taxpayers who follow soccer, rugby, tennis, golf or cricket. I am placing that on record so that it cannot be said that the plea was not made on this matter on the passage of this Bill.

Will the Deputy tell us what is their share?

Now we have "Sive."

What would the Deputy say their share is?

The Deputy is not competent to say that.

What does the Deputy say?

Deputy Flanagan should be allowed to make his speech without interruption.

I should like to know from the Minister, in view of the few hours we have, wheter he has any information at his disposal about the cost of advertising because, when it comes to advertising on television, the keen firms who will be advertising will not put money into a five or ten minutes' programme which will be taken up with the Irish language because that will not be a good medium for the quick sale of their goods no matter what they may be anxious to sell. If there is to be any music attached to the advertising of the goods by the advertisers, they will expect something more attractive and more catchy than "The Walls of Limerick" or "The Bridge of Athlone."

Can the Minister give us any idea as to the cost per unit to advertisers in the proposed service? It can reach £50 per minute. It may be something in the region of £25 per minute but we can safely assume that it will be between £20 and £40 per minute for the advertising. That will be expensive advertising for any Irish industrialist or any Irish merchant who advertises his products or his goods on Irish television. He will look for the easiest, the quickest and the most attractive means to bring home to the viewers the attractiveness of the goods he is advertising.

If you are to advertise your goods, or whatever you have to sell, by poster, it means that you can have a very extensive poster made available pasted up on every railway station, with the permission of C.I.E., and outside every cinema and convenient to every town hall. It may be costly but advertising on television will last from two to five minutes. The poster may be there for two or three months and may have a better effect on pushing forward the commodity that is being advertised over television.

I can see something in the far distant future in so far as industries using television are concerned. It can be used in order to rake in money. Certain people connected with the Television Authority can go direct to company directors and manufacturers and say: "We gave you loans; we gave you grants; we gave you money; we built up your industry; we gave you quotas; we gave you export licences; we permitted you certain export facilities. Now in return you must advertise with us or you will not get the facilities desired." No man can tell me as the former Minister for Industry and Commerce, the Taoiseach, said that that will not be done because it will be done.

These charges should not be made against the former Minister for Industry and Commerce. It does not arise on the bill.

This may not arise on the Bill either. The Leas-Cheann Comhairle will recall the circular sent to industrialists before the Presidential election seeking subscriptions. Do you remember that?

The Deputy may not indulge in crossexamination in this manner. The matter mentioned by the Deputy is not relevant.

That may not be relevant but the question of advertising is. I can clearly see that those industrialists who subscribed generously to Fianna Fáil will have special advertising facilities from the new broadcasting Authority. There is nothing to stop them having that and, judging from past experience and the Government's record in that respect, I can see this proposed television service bringing a very substantial, underground, secret income to swell the Fianna Fáil Cumainn.

The Deputy is not seeing correctly.

Debate adjourned.