Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers (Resumed). - Colour Television.

288.

asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs what percentage of RTE television programmes are being transmitted in colour; and if it is proposed to increase this percentage.

I am informed that about 25 per cent of RTE television transmission is in colour. There are no proposals to increase this percentage. Of these transmissions in colour about one-tenth are produced by the RTE outside broadcast unit—mainly of sporting events—and the remainder are live relays from abroad or transmissions of imported films.

I have stated before in the Dáil that RTE have no firm plans for the regular home production of colour programmes. This remains the position. Regular or studio transmissions in colour cannot be contemplated for several years ahead because of the heavy cost involved.

Could the Minister say what would be the cost involved in transmitting the other programmes in colour?

That is a separate question.

We have no firm estimate of the cost of equipping RTE for full colour transmission. We estimate—and this is a rough estimate— that it will be well over £1 million. Another question is involved. Colour television sets are extremely expensive and, if RTE went into full colour television tomorrow morning, and if all the people with television sets changed over to colour in the morning, it would cost something in the region of £150 million, averaging about £300 a set. The Deputy knows well that these colour sets are not made in this country.

Can the Minister say what the increase in the licence fee would be if we had a full colour service?

I would hate to hazard a guess on that. I am well aware of the criticism which I got as Minister for Posts and Telegraphs for the 50 per cent increase in licence fees which I gave RTE over the past 12 months. I am convinced that if we had to raise an extra £1 million, and possibly more, to go over to colour the fees would have to be increased rather sharply.