With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 12 and 13 together.
As reported in the public press, an application was made to me on behalf of a group including Independent Newspapers Ltd., the Irish Press Ltd., the Irish Times Ltd., the Cork Examiner and the Creation magazine group for a licence to operate an international commercial sound broadcasting station, based in Ireland. This application was dated 10th April, 1969.
Amending legislation would be necessary to enable me to license any organisation other than Radio Telefís Éireann to operate a public broadcasting station here. Apart from the considerations of policy which would be involved in changing that position, the long and medium wavebands are, as is well known, seriously congested. The feasibility of operating a high power station here giving international coverage without causing harmful interference, and violating international agreements to which we are parties, has been examined from time to time by engineers of RTE and of my Department, but no satisfactory solution has been found nor has one been offered in any of the various proposals for commercial radio that have been made to me by interested parties over the years. Obviously I would have to be satisfied on this aspect before other aspects could be considered.
The question of entering into negotiations with the group has not therefore arisen. If such a valuable broadcasting concession were available for grant to private interests, the normal procedure would be to invite applications from all interested parties.