Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Television Cable Companies.

12.

asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs the manner in which his Department ensure that television cable companies are operating strictly in accordance with the licences issued by him; and, in particular, if he will ensure that the standard of service required under the licence is provided in the St. Assam's Estate district, Raheny, Dublin.

With regard to the first part of the question there is no change from the position as set out in my reply to a similar question by the Deputy on the 16th December, 1975.

So far as the St. Assam's district is concerned, I understand that there has been an abnormally high incidence of breakdown on the cable system serving this area during the last few months and that sections of the trunk cable route which have been particularly subject to damage by third parties are being recabled and rerouted to reduce the risk of damage. During the month of June frequent interruptions in service during the daytime arose from the intensive maintenance, realignment and recabling programme which is being carried out by the cable company concerned but the interruptions have been confined so far as possible to the forenoon. I am informed that this programme has already substantially improved the quality and reliability of the system, and that it is likely to be completed in about two weeks time.

Is the Minister's reference to damage to the cable being caused by third parties a reference to vandalism and deliberate damage?

There has been some of that sort of activity.

Is the reference intended to include anything else?

I do not think so.

Therefore, the damage was caused by deliberate vandalism?

So far as we know that has been the case but one cannot be certain as to whether any act is deliberate.

Is it possible for this sort of damage to be caused accidentally?

It is possible but unlikely.

Could the Minister elaborate a little? Perhaps he might tell us what kind of circumstances would cause accidental damage to the cable. Would it be caused by something like a rotovator, for instance?

As the Deputy will be aware, there are a number of circumstances that can cause damage to cable but in response to a supplementary I do not think I would be required to cover the whole range of possible circumstances that might cause interference.

I am merely endeavouring to find out whether in what he said the Minister had in mind deliberate vandalism in the explanation he gave in respect of another case. I am trying to find out whether he has a different situation in mind in regard to this case.

I am not certain as to whether the damage is deliberate but the Department are endeavouring to take action which, in so far as possible, will ensure that the lines are not open to damage, either deliberate or accidental. I think that is the information the Deputy is seeking.

I require some further information. May we take it that in two weeks' time, when it is expected that the work will be completed, it is expected also that the standard of reception in the Saint Assam's area will be of the level required by the licence issued by the Minister's Department?