I do not intend to delay the House very long but I should like to make a few comments. I think Radio Éireann and Telefís Éireann on the whole are doing a good job. I commend the move that they shall jointly be known as Radio Telefís Éireann. It will cut through a lot of the confusion which has existed in regard to the two bodies. I also welcome the move, in relation to section 12 of the Principal Act, whereby more promotion will be allowed: red tape should not prevent people of ability from getting promotion. I congratulate the Minister on that step. There were fears, at the beginning, that our television service would cost the country a fortune and it is good to know that the very opposite is the case. Indeed, we should be looked upon as a very backward country today if we had not our own television service.
I should like to make a few remarks about programmes generally. We should have a lot more programmes with our own actors and actresses. We hear a lot about good actors and actresses who must go abroad to earn a living because there is not enough work for them here. This is one field where we could give them more work and also provide more work for our playwrights. They could take over from a lot of this so-called entertainment which is not of a very high grade. Some imported entertainment may be all right and I believe is all right, if it has educational value, but some of it is of a very low standard.
A few short months ago, we saw a certain type of play depicting the stage Irishman. There was the ordinary country boy who went across the Channel to earn a living and who fell into bad company. All the time, he is held up as a "gom" Irishman. We know that that type of thing is shown on films but to have it shown on Telefis Éireann is another matter.
This year, the 50th Anniversary of the Rising, Radio Telefís Éireann can play a big part in honouring that occasion. I am glad to hear that all concerned are doing their utmost to ensure a proper image of the time and I wish that venture every success.
Sometimes we hear references to the accents of announcers and it may be that somebody has an accent that has not a great lot of the brogue about it. I have in mind one or two good announcers who are engaged mostly on advertising. I could guarantee that the owners of these accents are good Irishmen but, even if they have not a real broque, I consider that they are worth their choice.
Telefis Eireann runs plays depicting rural life in Ireland. The series "The Riordans" is said to reflect the life of our agricultural community, but I doubt it. If one goes through the country, one will not find many farmers or farm labourers as well dressed as the people who appear in that series.
"Telefís Feirme" gives the facts and figures of farming. It is very educational for the rising generation. I hope it will continue along its present lines and I wish the programme luck.
Another feature is "Open House". I do not think any great film star has emerged from it yet. We welcome this feature. We are not a bit afraid to have a debate but frequently those in the hall where it is being recorded and those viewing the programme may get a wrong impression. Time is limited. Whoever is in charge of the show is bound to take as many questions as possible. Then, all of a sudden, the feature is brought to a halt, just when somebody wants to answer, but he is cut off. That sort of thing has happened more than once.
It has been suggested in some quarters that we should have longer programmes. Any programme throughout the day should be confined to the schools. What percentage of our population wants a television service all day—only a very small percentage. Furthermore, it would cost a great amount of money. I cannot see that it would be useful. Who would be able to view during the day? The man would be working and his wife at home would be busy doing the chores. The farmer would be in the fields. Only about three per cent of what I might describe as the affluent society would be able to view television during the day and the country would have to pay a large sum for it.
Some people want Telefís Éireann to lengthen the children's programmes in the afternoon. That is something about which we must be careful. Children go to school and are confined, maybe in a stuffy room, for some hours. When they get home after school closes at 3 o'clock, they must do their homework. The next thing is that the television set is turned on and they watch it for a couple of hours. Any child who is properly reared is out in the open playing games and roaming around. I think the afternoon television programme starts quite early enough.
Generally, we give a fairly good radio and television service to our community. The reception in some areas, especially in my county of Cork, is not all we should like it to be. There are areas where reception is very poor indeed. I was told lately that this matter is being looked into and I hope that this is the case.