Broadcasting and Wireless Telegraphy Bill, 1987: Committee and Final Stages.

SECTION 1.

In section 1 we have amendment No. 1 in the name of the Minister. Amendments Nos. 2, 12, 14 and 17 are related and amendments Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13 and 16 are consequential on amendments Nos. 1 and 2. It is proposed, therefore, with the agreement of the House, to take those amendments together for discussion. Agreed? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 4, line 13, to delete the definition of "premises" and substitute the following:

"`premises' includes land not built on, land covered by water and a structure of any kind whether attached or affixed to the land or not;".

In amendments Nos. 1 and 2 I am putting forward a slightly revised definition of the term "premises" and I am also inserting the term "vehicle". The revised definition of "premises" is primarily of a technical nature to embrace the idea of a structure on an inland lake or waterway. The introduction of the term "vehicle" stems from the fact that it was unclear from the original Bill whether an illegal broadcast from a vehicle was covered. This is now being put beyond doubt as is the possibility of an illegal broadcast from a structure or vessel on an inland lake or waterway.

The relevant consequential changes are in amendments Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13 and 16 to sections 3, 4 and 6. These sections are at the heart of this legislation and provide:

—that it shall be an offence to make a broadcast from any premises or vehicle in the State save pursuant to a licence issued by the Minister;

—that any person who owns, controls or manages a premises or vehicle and who knowingly permits an illegal broadcast to take place from them shall be guilty of an offence.

The other offence created in section 3 relates to a person who operates or assists in the operation of wireless telegraphy for an illegal broadcast, while section 4 creates offences for:

—making available a premises or vehicle from which such broadcasts are made;

—having or keeping wireless telegraphy apparatus used for such broadcasts; and

—supplying, installing or maintaining such apparatus for the purpose of making illegal broadcasts.

Amendments Nos. 10, 11, 13 and 16 relate to section 6 which deals with the withdrawal of telephones or electricity service from a premises used for illegal broadcasts and provides for the insertion of the terms "premises" or in one instance "vehicle" as appropriate in place of previous references to " premises or structure".

Amendments Nos. 12, 14 and 17 from Deputy O'Malley are also relevant in this regard. I would like to assure the Deputy that it was not through oversight that the reference to "vehicle" was excluded from the particular clauses in question. In this regard we felt it did not make sense to be talking about a physical connection point for ESB service in a vehicle. The only circumstances in which such an unlikely connection would be made would be if the vehicle was permanently stationary, in which case it would, for the purposes of this Act, constitute a premises.

The same considerations apply to a physical connection for a telephone. So far as mobile telephones are concerned, there is no physical connection as such save at the exchange but, apart from that consideration, a subscriber is registered for such a service by reference to his home or place of business and a prohibition notice to withdraw telephone services would relate to that address rather than the particular vehicle in question.

I should perhaps take this opportunity to remind Deputies that this Act is very much complementary to the Broadcasting (Offences) Act, 1968. That latter Act was passed to enable Ireland to ratify the Council of Europe Agreement entitled "European Agreement for the Prevention of Broadcasts from Stations outside National Territories". It made it an offence to participate in any way in a broadcast from a ship, aircraft or marine structure in or over the State or sea waters adjacent to the State, or to supply materials or advertisements to such stations. The Act, in conjunction with similar legislation in the UK and other European coastal countries, virtually put an end to illegal broadcasting from ships.

The amendments, and particularly the definition of the word "premises" and the addition of the word "vehicle", are very worthwhile. It certainly ties down the difficulties that would otherwise arise if these amendments had not been included. I note the Minister referred to amendments Nos. 12, 14 and 17 in my name and I accept his explanation. I put them down in the interests of consistency and because I felt that the word "vehicle" was very adequate and necessary for inclusion. Because these are mobile and it may not be possible to provide either an ESB or a telephone service to them I accept that the word "structure" in that instance is probably more appropriate.

In regard to the Minister's amendment No. 15 to section 6 which deals with prohibition notices, a person on whom the prohibition notice is served pursuant to the subsection of this section shall be immune from liability in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by that person in pursuance of the notice. If it involves damage to property, does that mean that people who are executing their duty are immune from any charges? If damage is done to property does it mean that the aggrieved person cannot claim against the Minister?

Is the Deputy speaking on amendment No. 15?

On amendment No. 15.

We have not reached amendment No. 15.

It is included in the composite.

No, it is not.

I am sorry, I thought it was.

There are other amendments to section 6 but we are not dealing with the one to which you referred.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 4, between lines 19 and 20, to insert the following definition:

"`vehicle' includes vessel.".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 1, as amended, agreed to.
Section 2 agreed to.
SECTION 3.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 5, subsection (1), line 10, to delete "a place" and substitute "any premises or vehicle".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 5, subsection (2) (a), line 16, after "premises" to insert "or vehicle".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 5, subsection (3), line 23, after "premises" to insert "or vehicle".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 5, subsection (3), line 25, after "premises" to insert "or vehicle".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 3, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 4.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 5, subsection (2) (a), line 39, to delete "a structure or premises" and substitute "any premises or vehicle".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 6, subsection (2) (c), line 1, to delete "any structure or any premises" and substitute "any premises or vehicle".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 4, as amended, agreed to.
Section 5 agreed to.
NEW SECTION.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 8, before section 6, to insert the following new section:

"6.—(1) A person guilty of an offence under section 3, 4 or 5 of this Act shall be liable—

(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or, at the discretion of the court, to a fine not exceeding £1,000 or to both such imprisonment and such fine, or

(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or, at the discretion of the court, to a fine not exceeding £20,000 or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

(2) (a) On conviction on indictment of a person for an offence under section 3 or section 4 of this Act in relation to a vehicle the court may, at its discretion, in addition to any punishment to which that person may be liable under subsection (1) of this section, order the vehicle to be forfeited.

(b) Where a vehicle is forfeited under this subsection, the Minister may direct that it be sold or otherwise disposed of in such manner as he thinks fit.

(3) Where an offence under section 3, 4 or 5 of this Act which has been committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of, a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate, or any person who was purporting to act in any such capacity, he, as well as the body corporate, shall be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against accordingly.

(4) Notwithstanding section 10 (4) of the Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act, 1851, summary proceedings for an offence under section 3, 4 or 5 of this Act may be instituted at any time within two years from the time when the offence was committed.".

This amendment has not been discussed. It has been suggested that amendments Nos. 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, 46 and 47 are related and should be taken together for discussion. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Amendment No. 9 agreed to.
SECTION 6.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 8, subsection (1) (a), line 7, to delete "a premises or structure" and substitute "any premises or vehicle".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 8, subsection (2) (a), line 22, to delete "or structure".

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 12 not moved.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 8, subsection (2) (b), lines 29 and 30, to delete "or structure".

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 14 not moved.

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 8, between lines 34 and 35, to insert the following subsection:

(3) A person on whom a prohibition notice is served pursuant to subsection (1) of this section shall be immune from liability in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by that person in pursuance of the notice."

Amendment No. 15 inserts a provision indemnifying the ESB and Telecom Éireann from anything done in pursuance of a prohibition notice issued under this section to cease service. It is essentially a technically because it is inevitable that if a court action was taken by an injured party against either body the Minister would inevitably be enjoined in that action. Nevertheless the legal advice is that such a provision should be made and this, therefore, is the objective in the amendment in question. It is to indemnify the ESB and Bord Telecom in the event of their moving against a pirate.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 16:

In page 9, subsection (5) (b), lines 4 and 5, to delete "or structure, as the case may be".

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 17 not moved.
Question proposed: "That section 6, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

What provisions are envisaged to withdraw these notices? Do they wither or do they stand forevermore? It is stated: "It shall remain in operation until it is withdrawn". Is there a system that would apply to have it withdrawn if the person in question has ceased operations and is entering a new business?

We just inform Telecom Éireann or the ESB that they ceased operations.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 7.

I move amendment No. 18:

In page 9, line 39, to delete "£800" and substitute "£1,000".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 7, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 8.

I move amendment No. 19:

In page 19 (1), line 43, after "telegraphy" to insert "other than a television set".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 20:

In page 10, subsection (4), lines 26 to 37, to delete paragraphs (a) and (b), and substitute the following:

"(a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £1,000,

(b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding £20,000".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 8, as amended, agreed to.
Section 9 agreed to.
SECTION 10.

I move amendment No. 21:

In page 11, line 36, to delete "£800" and substitute "£1,000".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 10, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 11.

I move amendment No. 22:

In page 12, subsection (1) (a), to delete lines 1 to 9, and substitute the following:

"(i) in case the apparatus in respect of which the offence was committed is a television set, on summary conviction to a fine not less than three times the fee for a licence for such a set when the offence was committed and not exceeding—

(I) in the case of a first such offence, £500,

(II) in the case of a second or subsequent such offence, £1,000.".

An alternative wording has been proposed to this amendment. I am withdrawing the wording I have proposed: "in case the apparatus in respect of which the offence was committed is a television set, on summary conviction to a fine not less than three times the fee for a licence for such a set when the offence was committed and not exceeding...". I am withdrawing that portion of the amendment but I am leaving "in the case of a first such offence, £500" and "in the case of a second or subsequent such offence, £1,000". The intention I had in mind was that three times the fee for a licence would be a minimum fine. The district justices would have the right to bring in the Probation Act with consequently no fine whatsoever.

The point in publishing it in this form is to highlight the fact that at the moment we have about 170,000 unlicensed sets in this country. An Post are doing an excellent job in increasing the number of licences collected every year, but there is still a major problem in relation to unlicensed sets. By increasing the fines from £500 to £1,000 I believe we will reduce the number of 170,000 unlicensed sets — this amounts to a loss of income of about £8 million for RTE. I am not proceeding with the minimum of three times the licence fee because, due to family circumstances, a district justice may want to impose twice or one and a half times the licence fee. As I said, I am not proceeding with the minimum of three times the licence fee. In other words, I am withdrawing the first part of the amendment but I am retaining the figure of £500 for the first offence and £1,000 for a second or subsequent such offence.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments 22a, 22b and 37 are related and may be taken together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 22a:

In page 12, subsection (1) (a), line 6, to delete "£400" and substitute "£500".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 22b:

In page 12, subsection (1) (a), line 9, to delete "£800" and substitute "£1,000".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 23:

In page 12, subsection (1) (a), line 14, to delete "£800" and substitute "£1,000".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 24:

In page 13, subsection (1) (c), line 49, and in page 14, line 1, to delete "eight hundred pounds" and substitute "one thousand pounds".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 25:

In page 14, subsection (1) (c), lines 3 and 4, to delete "eight hundred pounds" and substitute "one thousand pounds".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 26:

In page 14, subsection (1) (d), lines 36 and 37, to delete "eight hundred pounds" and substitute "one thousand pounds".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 27:

In page 14, subsection (1) (d), line 43, to delete "eight hundred pounds" and substitute "one thousand pounds".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 28:

In page 15, subsection (1) (f), line 38, to delete "eight hundred pounds" and substitute "one thousand pounds".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 29:

In page 16, subsection (1) (g), lines 1 and 2, to delete "eight hundred pounds" and substitute "one thousand pounds".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 30:

In page 16, subsection (1) (g), lines 3 and 4, to delete "eight hundred pounds" and substitute "one thousand pounds".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 31:

In page 16, subsection (1) (h), line 18, to delete "eight hundred pounds" and substitute "one thousand pounds".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 32:

In page 16, subsection (1) (h), line 20, to delete "eight hundred pounds" and substitute "one thousand pounds".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 33:

In page 16, subsection (1) (i), line 33, to delete "eight hundred pounds" and substitute "one thousand pounds".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 34:

In page 16, subsection (1) (i), line 35, to delete "eight hundred pounds" and substitute "one thousand pounds".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 35:

In page 16, subsection (2) (a), lines 47 and 48, to delete "eight hundred pounds" and substitute "one thousand pounds".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 36:

In page 17, subsection (2) (b), lines 7 and 8, to delete "eight hundred pounds" and substitute "one thousand pounds".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 37:

In page 17, between lines 30 and 31, to insert the following subsection:

"(3) Section 4 (2) of the Criminal Justice Act, 1951, and section 13 (3) (b) of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1967 (which provide for maximum penalties under section 11 of the Act of 1926) are hereby repealed.".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 38:

In page 17, lines 52 and 53, to delete "eight hundred pounds" and substitute "one thousand pounds".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 39:

In page 18, lines 1 and 2, to delete "eight hundred pounds" and substitute "one thousand pounds".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 40:

In page 18, line 15, to delete "eight hundred pounds" and substitute "one thousand pounds".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 11, as amended, agreed to.
NEW SECTION.

I move amendment No. 41:

In page 18, before section 12, to insert the following new section:

"12.—Any sum due in respect of a fee prescribed under section 6 of the Act of 1926 shall be recoverable by the Minister as a simple contract debt in any court of competent jurisdiction.".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 12 deleted.
Section 13 agreed to.
SECTION 14.
Question proposed: "That section 14 stand part of the Bill."

Should we not be talking about contracts? Under the Bill we have just passed, does a person not have a contract with the licence going to the commission? Technically are these illegal broadcasters guilty of not having a contract?

No. They will have a licence which will go to the commission; they will still be licensed by the commission.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 15 agreed to.
SECTION 16.

Amendments Nos. 42, 43, 44 and 45 are related and may be taken together for discussion. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 42:

In page 18, between lines 37 and 38, to insert the following subsection:

"(2) Section 8 (1) of the Act of 1926 is hereby amended by the insertion after `place' wherever that word occurs of `or in any specified vehicle' and by the insertion after the words `all or any part of such apparatus' of the words `or any such vehicle'."

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 43:

In page 18, subsection (2), to delete lines 42 and 43 and substitute the following:

"member of the Garda Síochána or officer of the Minister or other person authorised by the person to whom the warrant is granted to accompany and assist him".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 44:

In page 19, subsection (2), line 30, after "Síochána" to insert "or any other person".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 45:

In page 19, subsection (2), line 35, after "Síochána" to insert "or any other person".

Amendment agreed to.
Section, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 17.

I move amendment No. 46:

In page 19, line 51, to delete "£800" and substitute "£1,000".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 47:

In page 20, line 6, to delete "£800" and substitute "£1,000".

Amendment agreed to.
Section, as amended, agreed to.
Section 18 agreed to.
NEW SECTION.

I move amendment No. 48:

In page 20, before section 19, to insert the following new section:

"19.—The Minister may by regulations prescribe the fee to be paid in respect of applications for licences or any class of licence under section 5 of the Act of 1926, subject to such exceptions as he may prescribe, and subsection (3) and (4) of section 6 of that Act shall apply to any such regulations.".

Amendment agreed to.
SECTION 19.

I move amendment No. 49:

In page 20, subsection (2), line 44, to delete "March" and substitute "December".

As I understand it, this amendment provides that all illegal stations will be off the air by December 1988. From the point of view of an orderly transition, how long of an interregnum does the Minister envisage there will be between the closing of all existing stations and the introduction of the new stations? Is he giving himself a very tight schedule expecting to have something to substitute for all the stations that will be closed down in December 1988? What is planned is that initially we will have a trawl and subsequent applications, but will there be a very long gap, and does the Minister think that is appropriate?

I do not believe there will be a long gap and putting 31 December as the latest date will concentrate the minds of the commission to get up and working. The intention is that this legislation will be brought immediately to the Seanad, together with the Bill we have just passed. The commission will do the trawl and advertise the licences, and it is intended that the new stations will be operating early next year. I believe 31 December 1988 will give legitimate applicants an assurance that they will be operating legally and will not be in competition with illegals. This is giving the illegal stations enough time to get off the air.

Amendment agreed to.
Section, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments and received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass".

I should like to thank the Members for their co-operation in passing this Bill with such speed.

Question put and agreed to.