Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - RTE News Tapes.

35.

asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs the date on which the tapes which recorded RTE television news broadcasts on 11th January, 1974, and which were referred to in a reply of 14th March, 1974, were wiped.

The tape which was used to record RTE television news broadcasts on the 11th January was erased for reuse on the 18th January. This was in accordance with a standard procedure in the Government Information Service laid down in the previous November.

36.

asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs whether any record, written or otherwise, of the contents of tapes or any part thereof, used by the Government Information Service for the purpose of recording RTE programmes including news bulletins, is normally made or has ever been made before the wiping of such tapes.

Such records are not normally made; they have sometimes been made at the request of Government Departments in accordance with a standard procedure. Unless such a request is received, no record is preserved.

I take it from the Minister's reply that tapes are normally wiped without any other records being kept, and is he satisfied that the making of such tapes is worthwhile? Is he aware that the non-keeping of any record whatsoever is totally out of conformity with the normal practice in institutions such as newspapers who keep records of this kind—they are taped and then kept as written records? It is also done in the case of television statements.

I believe the practice of recording these items has been found useful, but I am satisfied that the practice is as I have described it. These tapes are wiped within a week unless a Government Department request that they be preserved. That is so under a circular issued in November. I do not quite understand what the Deputy is at. He apparently thinks that something went wrong in relation to an announcement about price increases on 11th January. The fact is that no statement was issued by the Government Information Service on that date and the daily newspapers have no record of any such announcement. Therefore, it does not appear that RTE could have had anything. Therefore, if RTE had a tape and had preserved it, it would not have contained this. I should like to add, in case it might be helpful to the Deputy, that I cannot take responsibility here— and I do not think he is asking me to —to ask for programming in RTE but if the Deputy wishes to inquire into RTE programming he can do so either directly or by way of complaint to the advisory committee. The Deputy seems to be completely up the wrong tree because there were no price increases on the date about which he is inquiring.

May I thank the Minister for telling me what would have been on the tape if it had not been wiped, especially having regard to the fact that he told me on a previous occason that he had no knowledge at all of what was said in the television broadcast in question? Might I also ask whether the Minister considers that the GIS monitoring service has served a useful purpose and, if so, which useful purpose it has served?

It is useful to Government Departments or Ministers who may have missed a given broadcast to be able to hear it. This is an immediate day to day practical thing. The circular was issued by the GIS and it set out the procedure to be followed from 27th November, 1973. I am satisfied this procedure is proper, helpful and businesslike and that it was fully complied with on that occasion, which was quite routine. I could read the circular if the House would like me to. Among other things they have to observe economies. They cannot preserve an immense archive. They preserve a certain amount when requested by Government Departments.