Broadcasting Authority (Amendment) Bill, 1975: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

As I was saying when we adjourned, I feel I must express my opposition to the concept of disorder and incitement to crime as it appears in the Bill before us, both in the context of an obligation laid on the authority and in the context of directions which may be given by the Minister. My opposition to this concept, as I explained, is based on a number of grounds. Two with which I dealt before the adjournment were, first of all, the intense legal ambiguity attaching to the phrasing, and secondly the almost, as far as I can see, unanimous criticism of it which comes from authorities in the field and from practitioners in the media.

I should now like to add very briefly two more reasons to underwrite my opposition to this set of phrases in the Bill. The first is that in both cases, it seems to me, this kind of provision seriously undermines the trusteeship function of the RTE Authority. This trusteeship function has been the bedrock of the original Act and I am quite sure it is the bedrock of this Bill also. I see it as being undermined by these provisions. We either accept that there is a trusteeship arrangement operating in which the RTE Authority acts as public trustees, or we do not. If we accept that it acts as trustees for the public we should give it all liberty to carry out that trusteeship. If, in the belief of the Minister or the Oireachtas, it has failed to carry out this trusteeship, then there is a course of action open to the Minister and to the Oireachtas which, in the last analysis, the Minister and the Oireachtas must take. I am not in favour of any intervening mechanisms, much less intervening mechanisms which are framed in such a very vague sort of way.

I should like to make one or two detailed points again on the legal side before I leave this area. I should like to question the thinking behind the drafting of these two sections. For example, it is not at all clear to me whether we are here creating a new crime. If we are not creating a new crime it seems to be pointless to write something like this into the Bill. If we are creating a new crime, which in this case would be the failure of the authority to honour an obligation laid on it by the Bill, or to respond to a direction given to it by the Minister, there is no sanction written into the Bill for a breach, or for having committed this offence. So we have the odd situation in the Bill in which either an offence is being created or it is not, and if it is being created no sanction appears in the Bill anywhere.

There is one other very minor point which I feel I should bring to the Minister's attention which may land him or some subsequent Minister in trouble at a later date. There is provision in the Bill for the dismissal of the Authority, subject to resolutions which may or may not be put down and discussed and voted on by the two Houses of the Oireachtas. I presume that if the Minister disposes of an authority in this manner, he will appoint a new authority. If, through any extraordinary happenstance, we had a situation in which an authority was dismissed and a new authority appointed, a motion to annual the dismissal was put down in the Dáil or the Seanad, or both, and voted on there, had the Minister's decision been reversed by this vote we would then be in a position in which we would have two authorities. Which authority would be the legal one? What would be the position of the Minister and the Department in respect of these two bodies of people?

The next thing I should like to talk about is specifically the Minister's power to direct the Authority in certain regards. Here I should like to make a point which, to my knowledge, has not been made before. We talk in an omnibus and portmanteau fashion about the Minister's power to direct, but under this and the other legislation, he has two powers to direct. He has power to direct the Authority to broadcast something, and he has power to direct the Authority not to broadcast something. These two powers are fundamentally different and should be treated in a different way. It may be sustainable, and it probably is, that in the interests of national security, the Minister and the Government should have the power to direct the national broadcasting station to broadcast anything they wish it to broadcast.

That is a reserve power and a marginal power which we can, perhaps, without any difficulty at all, see as legitimate in the exercise of Government. Even at that, I am not altogether sure that the present legislation provides enough safeguards in this respect. While it may entitle the Minister and the Government to require the Authority to broadcast certain matter, as far as I know, it does not give the Minister the power to direct the Authority to broadcast such matter, at a certain time, and in a certain way. It would seem to me that it would be a very necessary corollary of the power to direct the Authority to broadcast certain matter, that the Government should have the right to direct when and how that matter should be broadcast. A recalcitrant authority, assuming that it had not already been sacked, might easily operate in a conflict situation in such a way as genteely to frustrate the wishes of any Minister or the Government in this regard.

On the second power, the power to direct the Authority to refrain from broadcasting something, I am, as I have said, much less happy. This is something which again tends to vitiate the trusteeship concept which I have spoken about and will also abrogate the editorial responsibility of the RTE Authority. To my mind, the ultimate sanction on an authority, the sanction of being fired, is the one which will effectively operate to maintain standards in broadcasting. If we are to be stuck with a section like this, if we are to be stuck with the power to direct, then I must also query the particular wording of this section.

The Minister said—and I have no doubt of his motivation—that the main reason for this redrafting is to narrow down the field under which directions may be given in comparison with what appeared in the original Act. It is my belief that the present section does not do that satisfactorily. If we are to have a situation in which the Minister or the Government may issue directives to the national broadcasting station in the interests of security and security alone — and this is something which the Minister has stressed very strongly in his speech — then the words: "In the interests of national security alone" should be the most important restriction on any such right by the Minister. I would almost prefer to leave the definition of what matter may or may not be transmitted an open one, as open as it was in the original Act, but to restrict the circumstances under which a direction is issued to include only occasions on which national security is in danger. The question of whether or not national security is or is not in danger could then be determined in some way, and possibly in a judicial way.

Another way in which the Bill sets up a mechanism which, to my mind, could be used to abrogate the editorial responsibility and the public trusteeship function of the Radio Telefís Éireann Authority is in the field of impartiality. As a working journalist, and an occasional part-time lawyer, I must query this term and the use of it in this particular Bill. Again, I must give the Minister credit for the motivation which lies behind this subsection, but I must query its effectiveness and its enforceability. As a legal concept, I find impartiality in the context of modern broadcasting and communications generally, to be almost meaningless. As a professional goal I find it useful if abstract. Here I should like to quote another very brief extract from a commentrary on the Bill by Dr. Anthony Smith on Radio Éireann. Dr. Smith, who was asked specifically to comment on the impartiality provision said:

It could be justified on the grounds that it is meaningless and that no one intends to take any notice of it, which has been the justification for its inclusion in certain other broadcasting constitutions. The BBC was set up without any such obligation of that kind but only with an obligation not to publish its own views and upon that single, very slender obligation, it built up its own code of changing practices in a constant flux and evolution which is how it should be. Of course it is a worthwhile goal but it is a worthwhile professional goal. It is not a worthwhile legal goal. It cannot be enforced legally and any attempt to invoke that clause as a way of judging the actual material of a programme or series of programmes will lead to nothing but a general sense of inhibition over the whole broadcasting profession.

When you come down to it, and when you try to analyse current issues in terms of impartiality and the presentation of issues in impartial terms, you are forced to admit to failure. There is basically, as far as I can see, in actual practice, no such thing as impartiality except in situations of contemporaneous total communication— basically the face to face relationship between one individual and another or between groups of individuals.

Once you introduce the idea of selection—and everything which goes out on the media has been selected, for purely physical reasons of space— you make impartiality as an absolute unattainable. The good professional journalist operates in terms of impartiality by the seat of his pants. He does not need maps to guide him. He has, I would hope, an in-built professional instinct born of his experience and of his training, if he is lucky enough to have any, which tells him whether or not he is being fair not just to the people with whom he disagrees but to people with whom he agrees.

In regards to a newspaper with which I have been associated for a long time, I have often remarked that there seemed to be only one house rule in the paper and that was that anybody who had a policy with which the editor disagreed was far more likely to get space and publicity for his or her or their views than somebody with whom the editor agreed. Many very conscientious editors will lean over backwards in this matter of impartiality, or will introduce positive discrimination in favour of minority groups, and people whose views are opposed to their own, not just so they cannot be accused of partiality, but because they have a genuine interest in protecting minority rights and in seeing that justice is seen to be done as well as being done.

The introduction of the concept of impartiality into a legal instrument of this kind may however lead to all sorts of unhappy although unintended consequences. It may lead, in particular, to a failure to inform the public on matters of serious national importance. My example for this is drawn, like others I have drawn during this speech, from Northern Ireland and specificially from that period just prior to the resignation of Major Chichester-Clark as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, when the BBC had prepared and was actually contemplating the transmission of a programme which showed that among what is widely known as grassroots unionism there was a substantial and growing opposition to Major Chichester-Clark, to his policies and to his continuance in office as Prime Minister. This put the BBC of the day into a very thorny dilemma and indeed one with which I have every sympathy. They resolved it in a way in which, perhaps they were swayed more by an exaggerated notion of impartiality and by the sense of public service which a broadcasting organisation should always embody.

I quote from a September, 1974 edition ofThis Week magazine in which Dr. Smith commented:

...By pointing out forcibly under what behind-the-scenes pressure Chichester-Clark was subjected to at that time Maguire——

he is referring to the controller of programmes——

——and his staff feared that the BBC would help to bring about the very collapse of his power which it was predicting. But neglecting to point out to a British audience the kind of pressures that existed within the Province at that moment made it if anything harder for Chichester-Clark to bring home to Maudling why the processes of reform were proving so difficult. Once broadcasting tries, for reasons however liberal, to lighten the burden of government, it steps upon a slippery slope in which fear and reality become progressively indistinguishable.

The key point in that passage is the last one — the reference to broadcasting trying to lighten the burden of government. We have to accept that the function of government and the function of broadcasting in a modern state are, at certain important points, different. I would never agree with the proposition that a broadcasting authority should break the law or should encourage breaches of the law. Equally, I do not think that it is the function of a broadcasting authority to enforce the law. The enforcement and maintenance of the law is the responsibility of the Government with the goodwill of the citizens, including, I need hardly add, those citizens who work in the media. We must beware of the situation in which the functions of government and the functions of the media in this regard become so confused that the primary function of the media to report what is actually going on somehow becomes submerged.

There are a number of other related problems in this whole question of impartiality. The idea of impartiality was introduced, as the Minister said in his opening speech, into the independent broadcasting legislation in Britain. It has led to problems there. For example, it has led to problems in the question of balance. Notwithstanding the provisions of the independent broadcasting legislation, the programme companies have been encouraged to try to achieve the impossible: to try to achieve balance within individual programmes rather than leave themselves open to the much more difficult task of proving that they have achieved balance over a series of programmes. The independent broadcasting media in Britain have been faced with considerable difficulties by this clause in the matter of satire—we may not all agree with satire but we could certainly regard it as a legitimate function of broadcasting from time to time—and with regard to the growing trend towards access broadcasting. There is no point in dealing with satire at any length except to say that it poses unique problems for any organisation labouring under an impartiality clause like this.

The question of access broadcasting is more important in a sense. Access broadcasting, as it has been developing over the past few years, is aimed specifically at promoting participation in the media, in promoting access to the media by groups who, for one reason or another, hold minority positions in society. There may not always be such groups but because of the way in which the consensus in society tends to operate to exclude such groups or to make their voices marginal, perhaps even more marginal than they need be, has prompted a reassessment of the way in which the media contribute to this, it has prompted the growth of the concept of access broadcasting whereby individual interest groups, however limited their appeal may be, are entitled in some way to some time on the air or in front of the camera.

This is a valuable extension of broadcasting freedom, one which does not tend to undermine society as a whole and one which we have already introduced here and there in our own broadcasting system. I bring to mind specifically a recent programme on RTE which dealt with the problems, the views and the attitudes of Irish humanists—hardly an enormous body in our society. They were allowed on the screen. I had my own objections to the way in which the programme was handled but not with the concept of the programme, which was that basically minority groups do have this right to exposure on a public service in a certain way at a certain time. How do you operate an impartiality proviso when it comes to the promulgation of minority and sometimes intensely minority viewpoints like this?

There is another problem related to impartiality and that is the problem created by situations in which people may act to frustrate the public service role of a broadcasting system by declining to take part in programmes and thus jeopardising the impartiality of a programme or of a series of programmes. The most obvious area where this could happen is in the matter of political discussion. If the Controller of Programmes in RTE, or any of his producers or directors, wishes to have a balanced television discussion on a serious topic and if he is bound by a hard and fast rule of impartiality such as we see in this Bill, effectively we are creating a situation in which any one political party can veto discussion of an important subject by the elected representatives of the people as a whole by simply refusing to appear to put their side of the question.

I am not one of those people who say that all politicians are instant game for television and should be subjected to inquisition by television personalities at every turn of the road. One can go too far in the other direction. There is the danger of a situation developing in which this rigid application of a rigid code of impartiality can give to all sorts of groups in society ade facto veto on public interest broadcastings. I have mentioned the area of politics but there are at least two other areas where this could be equally relevant —the area of religion and the area of consumer affairs. It is not so long ago since, in the wake of a particularly controversial statement by a very prominent cleric, RTE attempted to mount a programme on that subject and failed to do so because they could not find anybody prepared to come on television and defend that cleric, or to adopt the same point of view or to follow in his footsteps. In the whole consumer area if we are to have, as I hope we will have, on the public broadcasting station more and continually better programmes designed to enlighten the public about their rights as consumers and enlighten them about the goods they are being offered— goods which may or may not be of good quality, which may or may not be marketable—are we to have a situation in which the manufacturers of these goods, who have a responsibility to reply in a reasonable way to criticism, will be able to veto discussion of their products and of the marketability of their products simply by refusing to appear on television? One can use the device of the empty chair —“we asked a spokesman from Messrs So and So to appear and he refused.” There is the empty chair with the placard on it saying this space is reserved for Messrs So and So. That palls after a while and in any event it is a technique which can be overused.

If we write this provision on impartiality into this Bill in this way we run the risk of giving in a whole number of important areas effective vetoes to people who do not want to be held accountable for their actions or for the standard of the services they provide.

The final point I want to make on the question of impartiality refers to a section of the Bill which to my mind is as serious as any we have dealt with so far, and that is the section in the general provisions for the complaints commission which authorises the Minister to issue directions to, I presume, the complaints commission but this is not at all clear. The reference is in subsection (13) (a):

Where a code is drawn up by the Authority governing standards and practice for programmes (apart from advertisements) broadcast by it, the Minister may, if he thinks fit, after consultation with the Authority, give a direction in relation to the code, and in case the Minister so gives a direction he shall as soon as may be, inform the Authority of the direction.

It is not clear here to whom the Minister must give the direction. Indeed, it is worthwhile pointing out that this direction—unlike directions in other areas—is not at all subject to parliamentary review.

I am opposed to giving any Minister the power to give directions of this kind in relation to the internal workings of the organisations and possibly, in relation to the internal workings of the commission. It will, I argue very strongly, tend to vitiate the trusteeship function of the authority, and even that of the commission, which operates under the general umbrella of the authority.

I should like very briefly to say a word about the privacy concept. Again I am not at all sure, as in relation to the earlier matters discussed, whether a new offence is being created here. As a working journalist, I am aware on many occasions of cases where, to some extent, people's privacy may be infringed by working journalists. The extent to which this is legitimate or illegitimate is a very complex matter and cannot, I suggest, be dealt with adequately in the way in which we are attempting to deal with it in this Bill. The Minister in his earlier speech, referring to the section in question, said that this gives statutory recognition to a problem on which the authority already have an internal code. With respect, I do not see it as the function of legislation to give statutory recognition to a problem. To my mind the function of legislation is to give statutory recognition to institutions, to create offences and to creat sanctions for offences. There is probably a wider definition of legislation, but it does not include statutory recognition of a problem. Statutorily recognising a problem does nothing towards solving it. If we are to solve the problem we do so either in accordance with the law of the land, with regard to privacy, trespass and so on, or if we think it necessary, we create new offences with new penalties to match them.

I should like to move on to a few final remarks on journalism in general, the Minister's remarks on the IRA and on the role of the media. I should like to begin, again by quoting from the Minister's earlier speech in which, referring to the sort of person the broadcaster is, he said that the broad-caster's professional instinct inclines him towards exposure of what is exciting, even sensational, and to regard the possible social effects of such exposure as conjectural and outside his sphere.

Again, with all respect, I find this a travesty of the profession of which I am a member. One might as well say of politicians that their professional instinct inclines them towards the accumulation of power and its utilisation without regard to the social effects of such utilisation. I suppose that people enter the profession of journalism, as they do that of politics, for all the wrong reasons; but that is no reason why all journalists should be tarred with the brush destined for the bad journalist any more than the politicians, as a race, should be tarred with the approbium attaching to the bad politician.

In his speech the Minister gave three or four which he found wanting examples of journalism specifically in regard to illegal organisations. With regard to examples which the Minister chose I find myself in complete agreement with him. In this regard and perhaps in other areas of journalism there are many areas in which standards can and should be improved. Only this morning I read in a news report in at least one newspaper a reference to "Free State troops". The reference was, admittedly, in a paragraph which as a whole was within quotation marks but to my mind there was nothing gained, in journalistic terms by the inclusion of this specific set of epithets with regard to what is the National Army. I do not defend sloppy journalists. I shall never be found in the ranks of those who will defend journalists rightly or wrongly. Equally I do not use this position as an excuse to do down all journalists. Again I shall not defend sloppy politicians. Yet it could be argued that sloppy politicians are a great deal more dangerous to the nation than sloppy journalists; and yet, compared with journalists, politicians are men of comparative privilege and standing in our society.

There is, as the Minister said—and I have agreed with him—a certain amount of evidence of inadequate standards in journalism. I think—I do not propose to do so here—that one could draw on many other examples to show that. There is also evidence of a high sense of public responsibility and probity in Irish journalism, whether in broadcasting or in the Press. However I would argue very strongly that such evidence should not be used as a basis for the type of statement which the Minister made in his speech where he referred to some of the dangers he saw existing in the situation. He said:

I think our history, both in the more remote past and recently, has placed us today in a situation where the defence of the democratic State, together with the liberal values and civil rights for all citizens which that kind of State alone sustains, requires a high degree of intelligent vigilance and that such vigilance should be turned on our use of words and images and particularly on the broadcasting of these.

It is one thing to say that not all journalists are perfect; it is another to invoke this kind of language in an attempt to justify a measure which will affect inevitably all journalists, the good as well as the bad. We are left almost with the situation in which we are urged to a type of vigilance without regard for the consequences. This is the situation some writers have seen as the beginning of the wrong kind of tyranny, the kind of tyranny which the Minister has so forthrightly proclaimed himself against. When we warn people of the need to be vigilant we run the risk of setting up a fear syndrome, a terror syndrome, a denunciation syndrome. We run the risk of emulating Squealer inAnimal Farm, who, on the eve of the wave of executions told the animals:

I warn every animal on this farm to keep his eyes very wide open. For we have reason to think that some of Snowball's secret agents are lurking among us at this moment.

We run the risk of creating a society in which non-conformity of any kind, and not just that so rightly reprobated by the Minister, becomes actionable and a matter of concern to the authorities of the State and indeed to its broadcasting and supervisory operations also.

We run the risk—this may sound absurd, but not all scenarios are absurd — of creating ultimately the kind of society in which vigilance has become the norm; a society in which the fundamental thing is that people are watched, not whether what they are thinking or saying or doing has any validity in itself. George Orwell in his bookNineteen Eighty-Four affected everybody in general, but more especially members of the ruling party. Describing the life style of the party member he said:

Nothing that he does is indifferent. His friendships, his relaxations, his behaviour towards his wife and children, the expression of his face when he is alone, the words he mutters in sleep, even the characteristic movements of his body are all jealously scrutinized. Not only any actual misdemeanour, but any eccentricity, however small, any change of habits, any nervous mannerism that could possibly be the symptom of an inner struggle, is certain to be detected. He has no freedom of choice in any direction whatever. On the other hand his actions are not regulated by law or by any clearly formulated code of behaviour. In Oceania there is no law. Thoughts and actions which, when detected, mean certain death are not formally forbidden, and the endless purges, arrests, tortures, imprisonments, and vaporizations are not inflicted as punishment for crimes which have actually been committed, but are merely the wiping-out of persons who might perhaps commit a crime at some time in the future.

I do not want to strain the parallel but not least in regard to crimes that may or may not be committed in the future there is a certain resemblance to at least one section of this Broadcasting Bill and the possibility that in the hands of a future Minister this kind of legislation could be used in this kind of way.

In broad terms it seems to me that two of the main grounds on which the Minister makes the justifications for the type of provisions he has included in this Bill are, firstly, the effect of broadcasting—in particular, news, information and views of the IRA—on people in this part of the country and, secondly, what it does or does not do to our credibility in Northern Ireland.

I should like to deal first with his belief, which is fundamental to his speech, that broadcasting information and views of a certain kind on our national broadcasting system can underwrite the quasi-legality of this illegal organisation and the quasi-justification which may or may not attach to its activities. This is a simplistic view of the effect of the media on individuals. There has been a great deal of research into the effects of the media on people. The one common link between the various pieces of research is that they tended to prove very little. One of the main authorities on this—Professor Klapper—has said in regard to media research.

Teachers, preachers, parents and legislators have asked us a thousand times over the past 15 years whether violence in the media produces delinquency, whether the escapist nature of much of the fare does not blind people to reality, and just what the media can do to the political persuasions of their audience. To these questions we have not only failed to provide definite answers but have done something worse; we have provided evidence in partial support of every hue of every view. We have claimed, on the one hand, and on empirical grounds, that escapist material provides its audience with blinkers and with an unrealistic view of life, and, on the other hand, that it helps them meet life's real problems. We have hedged on the crime and violence question, typically saying, "well, probably there is no causative relationship, but there just might be a triggering effect. In reference to persuasion, we have maintained that the media are after all not so terribly powerful, and yet we have reported their impressive successes in promoting such varied phenomena as religious intolerance, the sale of war bonds, belief in the American way, disenchantment with Boy Scout activities. It is surely no wonder that a bewildered public should regard with cynicism a research tradition which supplies, instead of answers, a plethora of relevant but inconclusive and at times seemingly contradictory finding.

I have yet to find anywhere else a better statement about the state of play with regard to media research. Media research has not yet got to the stage of telling us the answers. It is only slowly beginning to get to the stage at which it will be able to ask the right questions. All assumptions about the effects the media have on people are very often mistaken because they fail to take into account the very high degree of selectivity with which people watch the media. People watch the media—and basically this is one of the relatively few uncontrovertible things that can be said about it—for views, opinions and so on which reinforce their own views and opinions.

There is a classic example of what happened in the United States of America, when in an attempt to promote community harmony, the broadcasting authorities launched a whole series of programmes about the different ethnic minorities. Subsequent research proved only that each ethnic minority remembered only the programme about itself and none of the programmes relating to the other minorities in the country. People watch or listen or read the things which reinforce their own views. This does not mean that they watch or listen or read things with which they are in agreement: it is just as likely that watching a message with which you strongly disagree will reinforce your views as watching a message with which you agree. Thus if somebody appears on television or is reported in the Press or broadcast on radio as a spokesman for an illegal organisation or an armed conspiracy, my personal reaction to that is not to think he might be right but to experience an intensification of my feeling of revulsion for this particular practice and my feeling of criticism for the illegality which it denotes.

When talking about the effects of the media we must remember that the effect, broadly speaking, is not related so much to the content of the message in itself but to the interaction between the message and the person who receives it. His degree of receptivity or otherwise is usually the critical factor. I presume the Minister will refer to the whole question of media research in more detail when he replies.

I will go on to discuss the role of the media in regard to the IRA specifically in the context of Northern Ireland. I should like to quote from what the Minister said in his opening speech:

Of no less importance than this is the consideration of the impact of our broadcasting in Northern Ireland, where there exists among the majority a widespread impression —greatly understandably and most ominously strengthened by certain events of five years ago—that this State is in some kind of collusion with the IRA. Anything in our broadcasting that would seem to confirm that impression is dangerous to life, both in Northern Ireland and here.

This is a fair point. But I wonder whether in making it we are not in danger of straining after a gnat and swallowing a camel. If there is anything that will reinforce the feeling in Northern Ireland that this State is in some kind of collusion with the IRA it is not anything they may hear on RTE but the litany of unsuccessful attempts to extradite people from this State which has been made during the past few months. I shall not go into the merits or demerits of extradition. I am saying that if one wants to look at factors which make the Northern majority suspicious of us and of what we are doing here, the question of whether or not RTE is in league with the IRA pales into insignificance compared with the history of extradition proceedings. It could be said that, by virtue of the extended and frequent exposure which our national broadcasting station gives to some of the more militant political spokesmen on the majority side in the North, if anything the broadcasting station might be accused of having gone over the other way.

I should like to suggest a parallel to the Minister with regard to the situation in Northern Ireland and that here concerning the IRA. At present in the North a number of people are interned. As far as I know, it is part of the policy of this Government that internment should end. The risks to be run by the ending of internment are far more than counterbalanced by the gains that could be expected from the reassertion of a state of normality, by a restatement of trust in the ordinary processes of law.

On a different level—but not a different sense of principle—we might apply the same thing to our broadcasting situation in the Republic. The Minister and the Government may wish to impose restrictions on broadcasters but they would be better off to take the risk and allow the authority to exercise their trusteeship function as impartially as they can. If they do so, the gains in terms of public credibility of the broadcasting system in general will far outweigh any possible losses which may be incurred through occasional lapses from standards.

I would argue very strongly that the responsibility for the control of broadcasting should be left to the RTE Authority in their trusteeship function for a number of simple reasons. The first one is that the multiplication of rules, such as there are in the Bill, encourages evasion. It shifts the emphasis on the professional broadcaster away from his professional responsibility towards an Act of the Oireachtas. It will encourage people to find loopholes in the legislation. It will make them concentrate on the real or alleged restrictions under which they suffer to the extent to which they will totally lose contact with the reality they are supposed to be reporting.

I am in favour of leaving the responsibility for the control of broadcasting on a day-to-day basis to the authority and to them alone. It is a logical extension of the public trusteeship concept which is the bedrock of this Bill and of the preceding Acts. The third reason refers to the Minister and to the role he is playing in Irish society. The Minister, sometimes singlehanded and not always in a way with which I am in agreement, is undertaking a kind of cultural revolution here. He has been in the van challenging many of our myths. Many of the myths which, I hope, will be broken some day. If he is to do this successfully, and if the people who think like him are to work with him in this enterprise—I do not necessarily agree with all of it, but it is a very powerful and fundamentally healthy phenomenon—he will not help himself or the myth-breaking activity in which he and others are cheerfully engaged, if he alienates an important part of his constituency, that part which works and operates in the media at all levels.

It is very important, for the sake of the things that the Minister holds most dearly, that he should not become diverted into a battle on his flank, a battle which is not only irrelevant in one respect but one which will drain him of the vigour and energy to carry out his task. This would confuse the issue to the point that the original clarity of vision would become muddy and obscure. I would urge him to seriously reconsider some of the aspects of this Bill which will lead him into conflict, for all the wrong reasons, with this very important constituency.

I urge upon the Minister a view of broadcasting which was summed up in two quotations. The first is from Professor Kaarle Nordenstreng of the University of Tampere in Finland, who, when writing inEducation and Culture, a Review of the Council for Cultural Co-operation of the Council of Europe, defined communications policy in the following way:

The fundamental question of communication policy is in fact precisely this: to which do we want to give priority, the reinforcement of prevailing ways of thinking and strengthening of man's monetary sense of security, or the transmission of new information which will inevitably disturb the old view of the world? The latter alternative may lead to temporary increase in insecurity, but on the other hand the new world view, based on more comprehensive information, is better equipped to receive and assimilate further information about the world.

This question cannot be settled by appealing to the audience concerned, since people attach importance both to entertainment which reinforces the feeling of security, and to new information which gnaws away at the old world view. The right decision, in fact, is not to be found in the needs of the individual but in those of the whole society; we must think of what is best for the entire community formed by the media audience.

The so-called informational programme policy adopted in recent years in Finnish broadcasting, which defines the transmission of new information as the primary function of radio and television, is based on the fact that for democracy to function people must have information; information about the society and political activity carried on by their elected representatives. If such information is not available, the individual will become alienated from reality, and cease to develop; he will come to a standstill in the midst of a changing world. And what is most important, in the absence of information man is incapable of independent decision; he can be led at anybody's will, without even being aware of it.

That is a very adequate statement of communications policy and one which I should like to see written into a Broadcasting Bill.

If I have an overall criticism of the Bill, it is that it tends to look backwards rather than forwards. It does not appear to be a Bill which will stand the test of 20 years of activity. It has been constructed in terms of an understandable obsession with the immediate past, but it may not stand as an authoritative and sophisticated statement of the relationship between a democratic government and a public broadcasting service.

The final question I should like to inflict on the Minister and on the House is one which could more appropriately be regarded as the motto for a national broadcasting service, because it is from one of our own poets, Louis MacNeice. In this particular extract fromThe Autumn Journal, Louis MacNeice was talking about culture in the broadest sense and about the kind of society in which I hope the communications media would have a major part to play. The quotation is as follows:

It is so hard to imagine

A world where the many would have their chance without

A fall in the standard of intellectual living

And nothing left that the highbrow cared about

Which fears must be suppressed.

There is no reason for thinking

That, if you give a chance to people to think or live,

The arts of thought or life will suffer and become rougher

And not return more than you could ever give....

Finally, I should like to express thanks, not only my own but that of other people in this House, to the Minister for the way in which he has addressed us and for the attention he has given to his speech. At a time when it is easy to criticise democracy and its institutions, this high seriousness of the Minister has done more for the Oireachtas than almost anything else I can think of in the immediate past.

I should like to commend the Minister on his action in introducing this important Bill in this House and I should like to re-echo the Minister's hope that the debate will be comprehensive, in depth, and critical, because the Bill calls for some measure of criticism. The Minister will agree that, so far, the debate has been at an encouragingly high level. It is appropriate, when we are perhaps critical of the national broadcasting service, that a word of praise should be given to it because by and large over the past 50 years, from the pioneering days of 2 RN, through Radio Éireann to Radio Telefís Éireann, the national broadcasting service has served the nation well. Many of its limitations — and like any other broadcasting service it has obvious limitations—have been due in the main to factors outside its control, including lack of adequate funds and the small size and diverse nature of our population.

Whether one agrees or not with the present Bill the Minister can gain some comfort from the thought that no man or Minister for Posts and Telegraphs has the power to produce a Bill that will please all the people all the time. On the whole the Minister has done a workmanlike job in removing some of the objectionable features of the 1960 Act and introducing some new measures which should help the members of the authority to carry out their duties without fear of favour.

At the outset of his long and very comprehensive, in parts provocative and challenging, speech the Minister made clear the two main purposes of his Bill. In the course of his address he said:

The first is to clarify and expand the duties of the RTE Authority in fulfilling their task of providing a national broadcasting service in the light of developments, experience and new insights since the authority was established. The second main purpose of the Bill is to provide greater autonomy and freedom for the broadcasting service within clearly defined statutory restraints and obligations, while at the same time improving public control in certain areas.

Then the Minister quoted section 17 of the 1960 Act which is:

In performing its functions, the Authority shall bear constantly in mind the national aims of restoring the Irish language and preserving and developing the national culture and shall endeavour to promote the attainment of those aims.

The Minister went on to offer the observation that the two twin concepts in this section—restoring the Irish language, and preserving and developing the national culture—are ambiguous in a particular way. I will deal with these points later on.

I should like to comment on the Bill and some changes I believe might improve it. I do not wish to make a Committee Stage speech but there are some general observations I should like to make before dealing further with the substance of the Minister's address, which was lengthy and one which the House, in general, welcomed, even if all Members were not in complete agreement with some of the comments put forward.

Section 2, is a significant step in the right direction. That section states:

A member of the Authority may be removed by the Government from office for stated reasons if, and only if, Resolutions are passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas calling for his removal.

It will not be as heretofore, by the action of the Minister. We have, unfortunately, had experience of Ministers, availing of their power, dismissing persons from public office, from the Authority, without giving the persons concerned the opportunity of defending themselves or their actions. This section is to be approved and I congratulate the Minister in introducing this as a change from the previous procedures.

I am concerned with the wording in the section which prohibits the Authority from including in any of its broadcasts, or in any matter referred to, anything which may reasonably be regarded as likely to promote or incite to crime or to lead to disorder. The word "disorder" is too ambiguous in its present form and should be altered or qualified to make its meaning clearer. If the Minister means civil disorder he should say so because the word "disorder" itself is too open to a number of interpretations.

In the same section the Authority is prohibited from unreasonably intruding on the privacy of any individual. Strangely enough, in the explanatory memorandum the word "unreasonable" is not used; but the word "unjustifiable", which I think is much more pertinent, is used. I would rather see the adjective taken away altogether. The Authority should have no right whatever to intrude in the privacy of any individual. It would be very hard to decide what was an unreasonable or unjustifiable right and it would be better, from the point of view of the citizen or citizens concerned, if the authority did not have the right to intrude on the privacy of any individual.

The idea of setting up a complaints commission is a good one but I would prefer to see an enabling clause rather than a mandatory clause to set up such a commission on 1st March, 1976. Perhaps I am wrong in my view but I have a feeling that once we set up a Commission, once there is some body or some individual to receive complaints, it is an encouragement to produce complaints. Most TDs, Senators, county councillors and people in public life would agree with me in that comment.

A commission, consisting of a chairman and not less than two members, is inadequate. The minimum number of members should be four. I know that, reading the section strictly, one will see that this can be increased. But there should be a minimum of four if for no other reason but the fact that further on a quorom of two is set out. That is entirely inadequate, too, particularly if there will be only three members, a chairman and two other members on the commission. I should like to see that number altered to not less than four. The term should be fixed, rather than saying "shall not exceed five years". The Minister should set out a fixed term of five years.

An old chestnut of mine and, I am sure, of other Senators and public representatives, is repeated here in subsection (9) which states:

Where a member of the Commission is nominated as a member of Seanad Éireann or for election to either House of the Oireachtas, he shall, upon accepting such nomination, cease to be a member of the Commission.

I do not think that is fair. If a person is nominated to the Seanad or nominated as a candidate to Dáil Éireann he should not give up his membership of the commission unless or until such time as he is elected. I know this is carrying on a tradition that has been written into a number of Bills and Acts in this House but, as the Minister has broken with some other traditions in the course of this Bill, he might very well break with this one.

The sections that will cause most comment are sections 3, 13 and 16. Section 13, which amends section 17 of the 1960 Act, sets out the function of the Authority in regard to the promotion of Irish culture, things Irish and the image of Ireland. I should like to see that section drastically redrafted. In its present form it does not fulfil what I would regard as one of the most important functions of the national broadcasting service. I should like to see the section put greater emphasis on the functions of the national broadcasting service in promoting the national image and the national identity. This purpose is being lost in phrases like "the preservation of democratic values" and "the need for understanding and peace". These are all desirable objectives on their own, but they are lumped together with the question of promoting our traditions and projecting our image, particularly to people outside the country.

I would start with a paragraph to uphold the democratic values enshrined in the Constitution. The second paragraph should be:

Be responsive to the interests and concerns of the whole community, and be mindful of the need for understanding and peace within the whole island of Ireland, and ensure that programmes reflect the varied elements which make up the culture of the people of the whole island of Ireland...

I would add:

...and have special regard for the elements, in particular the Irish language, which distinguish that culture and give to Ireland its national identity.

I do not understand why we must use the expression, "State". We should use the word "Ireland" where "State" appears in any part of this Bill. I would go on to say:

To have regard to the desirability of promoting understanding of the values and traditions of Ireland in other countries...

The emphasis in this section seems to be to encourage others to understand us. We should re-emphasise the desirability of promoting an understanding by others outside the country of our traditions and way of life.

Section 31, which was a bone of contention in the 1960 Act notwithstanding the criticisms already offered by previous speakers, is substantially improved. It would not be possible for any Minister to provide a form of section that would satisfy all criticism, and, in particular, the criticism we have heard of section 31 of the 1960 Act. The Minister on the whole has done a reasonable job in giving more power to the authority, more independence, greater security and the opportunity to be impartial and independent. No Minister could assure this or the other House that an authority, however constituted, would be independent or impartial. The greatest guarantee of the impartiality of an authority, or indeed any body, will be the members appointed to it.

When the time comes to appoint members to the authority I hope the Minister will take his courage and his good sense in his hands and appoint men and women of impartiality and independence and not, as was the case in the past, be influenced by political or other considerations. The authority should work, and be seen to work, as an impartial and impressive body; a body of independence and authority. It must be composed of people who are independent and impartial. That is asine qua non of the success of this authority and I hope the Minister will use his powers to appoint the right people to it.

The Minister spoke at length about open broadcasting. I am confused about what open broadcasting entails and what steps the Minister has taken towards the realisation of this aim. We have one national broadcasting station, Radio Telefís Éireann, which is seen throughout the country. People who live in a line north of Sligo-Wicklow enjoy programmes from outside broadcasting stations, from BBC, UTV, or HTV while people who live in the south and west of Ireland do not enjoy that. A number of bodies have been set up to ensure that people outside "the Pale" enjoy what they describe as multi-channel reception. The Minister in his speech or in the Bill made no reference to the possibility of those people enjoying the same service. It is proposed to set up a network of transmitting stations that will transmit one of the British broadcasting programmes —BBC 1, I presume, or UTV—to these areas. The Minister is satisfied that those of us who live outside the broadcasting "Pale" will enjoy, for the same licence fee a comparable service to those inside "the Pale". The Minister cannot hope to get away with that.

I agree to a great extent with the point put forward by Senator Horgan. It is essential that RTE or another broadcasting station have some say and some control over the programmes that are to be imported. There are many objections to that and it will not be a popular point of view because most people want to see virtually everything, from the UK, Northern Ireland or from RTE. There must be technical difficulties in controlling imported programmes.

If imported programmes are to be controlled to a second national broadcasting station, why not control the existing imported broadcasting programmes through the existing arrangements at RTE? It is not practical or possible to do that. I would not like to see the country thrown open completely to the reception of any and every programme from BBC or UTV. It would be inimical to Irish interests and it would, in time, destroy much of our cultural heritage, although I am not a fanatic on that by any means.

There are traditions in this country which we want to preserve and we should take every practical and reasonable step so to preserve them. I should like to see the Minister having another look at this whole concept of open or semi-open broadcasting to ensure that we have at least powers to control the type of programme beamed into this country from outside these shores or from North of the Border. It is wholly desirable that every possible opportunity should be given to encourage broadcasting from the Twenty-six counties to Northern Ireland andvice versa. I should like to see every possible use made of our national broadcasting service to encourage greater co-operation and friendship in cross-Border activities and associations and developments between the two parts of our country.

The Minister, at some considerable length, has dealt with the IRA and subversive activities or subversive organisations, as they are sometimes described. He is right to lay emphasis on this question of what we do in regard to the controls we impose on a national broadcasting service. We must accept the fact that in a democratic society democracy itself will only work if the system voluntarily allows a measure of control over many of its facets, not only broadcasting but indeed all day-to-day affairs. It must accept controls as a corollary to a continuation of the democratic system. Some of the controls may chafe at times and some of us may kick against them; but, by and large, the great body of the people would accept those controls in the interests of the common good and particularly in the interests of the weaker sections of the community.

If that tenet holds true in regard to the normal day-to-day affairs of this country it certainly should hold true in regard to the national broadcasting service It is asine qua non of any national broadcasting service that it has to submit itself to the normal dictates of the democratic system. If 51 per cent of the people decide that they do not want something broadcast and that a certain type of broadcast would be inimical to their interests and cause disturbance or riot or pain and suffering, I think it is only right that not only the broadcasting service but all forms of the media should accept those restrictions in the interests of the body politic. That goes without saying.

Having said that and agreeing with a lot of what the Minister has said in regard to the undemocratic activities of the IRA and other subversive organisations, I would be loth to let the matter rest at that. It is not sufficient just to take a negative attitude, just to say: "We will not publicise anything that might incite violence or revolution or anything that might endanger the livelihood or lives of the citizens and we certainly will not give any undemocratic organisations, who do not represent anybody but themselves, a footing in RTE or we are not going to allow the national broadcasting station to be utilised to promote the interests of these people in any shape or form". Whether we like to admit it or not, there is a certain glory in violence which seems to be growing. There seems to be a greater regard now for the gunman and the hold-up man and the man who gets away with it than there used to be perhaps in years gone by. Maybe it is the excitement of the situations as portrayed that causes young people particularly to want to imitate what they think is something exciting and possibly even something noble, a cause that demands blood-letting and violence. Without querying the basis of the call or its rationale, young people tend, on the spur of the moment and infected by the emotionalism caused by such broadcasting, to take up arms or indulge in some form of violence.

Unfortunately, history has proved over and over again, very much so in our own country, that it is not the "baddies" or the alleged villains that get hurt in these incursions into violence. It is the weak, innocent, helpless and unarmed people who eventually pay the price of unauthorised violence in a democratic society, as has been proved over and over in our own small country in recent years.

To return again to the positive side, I should not like to see RTE being used to promote anything that might incite violence or civil disorder. I should like to see it being used positively to portray the better side of our society here and taking a positive line to promote things that are traditionally good and Irish. The best of our society is based on law and order. People have made sacrifices down the years. It is not due to the unauthorised gunman or the blood-letter that we enjoy the peace and harmony and the progress we have in our country today.

I should like to see broadcasting making a more positive portrayal of the finer traditions of our society, of the Irish image in its best sense, so that young men and young women would be encouraged not to take up arms but to take up shovels, spades and pens to work for their own country. In other words, to live for their own country and not to want to die for it. A positive approach might have a far more beneficial and lasting effect than a purely negative approach of blotting out or discouraging anything that might lead to upheaval or destruction in our midst.

I was interested in another part of the Minister's speech about the financial side of RTE but I do not think it has been touched on in any contribution so far. I was reading a few days ago the report of the Television Commission of 1959 and the hopeful projections then that the national broadcasting service could be run for £650,000 per year, which 16 years ago was regarded as quite an enormous sum. We have obviously travelled a long way since then. It is obvious that this money is going to be required. A national broadcasting system is an expensive but necessary luxury. We must appreciate the fact that in the years ahead it is going to cost a lot more money. The Minister should, at the earliest possible stage, ensure that everybody in the State who pays the licence fee enjoys the same reception. Whether it is decided that we are going to have a second RTE channel or whether the Minister decides, as he seems to be proceeding at the moment, that we are going to have a series of transmitters which will transmit BBC 1 or UTV, everybody in this country should enjoy the same service for the same licence fee.

There is a good deal more I could say in detail on the Bill but I do not want to do it at this stage. It does, as the Minister hoped, offer an opportunity for a very wideranging debate. I do not want to venture into the realm of political philosophy which the Minister touched on in the course of his long speech. I think that is a matter for somebody else to talk about.

Anarchy—a word used by the Minister on several occasions during the course of his speech—to my mind has only one meaning and that is the breaking down of our organised society. Philosophical anarchy is something that we are not likely to see in this country. The dream of the original anarchist of the State withering away and everything in the garden being rosy is something that undoubtedly will remain as a dream never to be realised. Whether we like it or not, all of us were born with original sin and that is going to influence all our acts and everything we say for the rest of our lives.

The Minister has done a service to the country by introducing this Bill. It will not be the last Broadcasting Bill in the State. We will have others. I would like to think that in the light of experience the Minister's successor, or perhaps the Minister himself, will come along in years to come with another and perhaps better Broadcasting Bill. Whatever Bill is brought forward, whatever is said, whatever criticism is offered, there are certain fundamental things we cannot get away from. One of these has been spelled out on several occasions by the Minister and is worth reiterating. It is that in a democratic society if we want law and order to prevail, if we want the weaker to be looked after, if we want progress and enlightenment and a good life for all, we must subscribe to the tenet that you cannot have freedom for all without some restriction on what we say and do. Those who are charged with the running of RTE or any other branch of the media will be able to do a good job with the opportunities given by this Bill to carry out their tasks impartially and in a spirit of independence.

This Bill contains a number of good amendments and also a number of proposals and amendments, the value of which I doubt. The most striking thing about the Bill is that so little change is being proposed to the Act of 1960. Fifteen years is a long time in public affairs. Some commentator said recently that seven days is a long time in politics. Certainly 15 years is a long time in the realm of broadcasting, which is so much in the news, so much a matter of public interest. The fact that so little change is necessary after 15 years is a great tribute to the Act of 1960, a tribute which the Minister was generous enough to pay in his opening speech.

The first of the important changes in the Bill is the one contained in section 2, which deals with the removal of a member of the authority. It provides that in order to do so a resolution must be passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas. This is a good amendment and it will certainly make the members of the Authority more independent and from that point of view more useful. The general effect, I think, will be a good one. It must be realised that this provision may create difficulties for a Minister in the future. It is one thing for the public or the members of the Oireachtas to acknowledge that a member of the authority has acted in a stubborn or improper way, but when it comes to actually passing a resolution to remove him from office, it is going to be very hard indeed to persuade the Oireachtas to do so. Consequently, the present Minister or some Minister in the future may have some regrets that this amendment was made. Nevertheless, it is a good amendment. The risks involved are worthwhile taking and it will provide a good authority in the future.

Section 3 deals with the definitions of the authority's duties. It extends and elaborates the definitions of what its duties are. It deals in detail with impartiality and the other aspects. It adds a new duty, which is that the authority is prohibited from unreasonably intruding on the privacy of any individual. This is an excellent provision. I fully support it and I hope that the media generally will follow the good example provided by this amendment. I realise that it may be very difficult to interpret this amendment. It is the kind of point which may create more difficulty than any other when it comes to be examined and when the complaints commission or the authority itself has to consider whether the privacy of an individual is being unreasonably intruded on. There are many situations in which the privacy of an individual is being intruded on but often that may be necessary. If a person is involved in crime or in any matter of genuine public concern, then his privacy will be intruded upon and the question of whether it is reasonable or not will be very difficult to decide. However the principle is a good one. I am very glad to see it introduced and I hope that, in spite of the difficulties it may cause, it will prove effective in the future.

The complaints commission is dealt with in section 4. I have very grave doubts whether the complaints commission, as such, is really necessary. It is introducing a rather formidable structure into the broadcasting sphere. It seems to me that we will now have four authorities in broadcasting. We will have the Authority itself, as defined by the original Act. We will have this complaints commission, with the danger that it will become, in time, a kind of rival to the original Authority. We will have, of course, the Minister exercising certain authority, and the Oireachtas has certain matters reserved to it as well. It seems to me that this is a very top-heavy and elaborate structure to introduce for the purpose of doing something which, in itself, is certainly worth doing, and something for which there should be some provision; but this is introducing a Heath-Robinson appliance to deal with the situation.

There is a provision in the Bill for a chairman and not less than two members and for grants to be given in each financial year of such amount as the Minister considers necessary to enable the commission to perform its functions. There is provision for providing officers and servants, not just one officer or one servant. Under Parkinson's Law it is very likely that this commission will end up with many officers and servants. Under section 7 of the Bill there is provision that the commission must be provided with whatever recordings it needs to carry out its duties. There is a danger that this commission will become a kind of rival to the Authority, that it will feel that if it should equip itself for its task by monitoring the services provided by the Authority, by possibly going into research and generally equipping itself to do its duties.

If this commission do not spend wisely the money which will be provided and do not make the best use of the officers and servants available to it then not only will it not carry out the function envisaged for it but it may inhibit the authority. It may reach a stage where everybody in Telefís Éireann would be worried about the complaints commission and wonder if they should risk putting on such a programme in case it may not be approved.

The fact is that, if the commission take itself too seriously it will become an informal nuisance. The danger is that, having grants, officers and other facilities available, there is a distinct possibility that it will become a nuisance. Having all these facilities available, it will feel—with the best of intentions—it should be doing something. The commission may feel that if they do not do so they may be subject to criticism by the public or by the Oireachtas. Consequently, the commission is in danger of doing more harm than good, certainly in its present form.

Having examined the structure of the complaints commission we turn to its powers and find it has very little power in the formal sense, although it may have undesirable powers in the informal or indirect sense. It is significant also that the complaints commission have no power over the second channel being proposed. The commission will only have power to deal with complaints in relation to the ordinary programme as we know it today. It is true that if, for instance, it is finally decided that the second channel should only be for UTV it is clear that the complaints commission could not be expected to do very much about complaints in relation to that programme, because it could not influence the programme.

Nevertheless I see no reason why the Bill should specifically exclude the complaints commission from dealing with whatever second channel eventually comes into operation. It may be that the commission, having regard to the type of second channel, feel it is unable to have any influence over it, but to specifically rule out any action by the commission seems quite unnecessary and appears to be making decisions in advance as to what form the second channel will take. If the ultimate decision of the Minister and the Government is merely to take UTV, BBC 1 or whateverin toto then it would make sense to exclude it from the authority of the complaints commission. However, in so far as the Oireachtas or the public are concerned, no final decision has been made in regard to a second channel and consequently it seems inappropriate to have this provision that the complaints commission can in no circumstances have any authority over a second channel.

The idea contained in section 4 of having what might be called a statutory critic of the RTE Authority, of having somebody who is authorised to deal with complaints, is in itself a good one. However the method of approaching this problem has been much too cumbersome and ponderous. It is the kind of job which could have been adequately done by a kind of ombudsman, by somebody of impartiality and integrity and, ideally, somebody appointed by the Oireachtas. However I do not think in the long run the commission will do any great harm but it will not do a great deal of good either and certainly it is much too heavily equipped to do the job required.

Section 6 is one which, together with section 12, gives the power to introduce open broadcasting. This section is a very innocuous one but the consequences of its introduction will probably be very far-reaching. I am interested in the definition of "rebroadcast" in section 1 which says that:

"rebroadcast" means the simultaneous broadcast by the Authority of a broadcast of another broadcasting organisation.

This again seems to suggest that a decision has been made and that the Minister does not have an open mind about the form the second channel will take. There are, of course, very strong views whether the second channel should be merely the existing UTV or BBC 1 as it stands or whether the second channel should be a selection of various broadcasts from other stations, not only in the North of Ireland and the UK but also a number of stations on the Continent. I have no hesitation in saying that the latter arrangement would be infinitely preferable. I hope I am wrong in reading between the lines and seeing indications that the Minister's mind is closed on this matter. Of course, it is true to say that some of the British programmes are good ones. But to take any one programmein toto seems a very unwise decision because not all of the programmes are worthwhile and many of them would be of little or no interest to the people in this country. Consequently the approach to this question of a second channel should be much more ambitious. We should expect much more variety and certainly it should not be confined merely to one British channel or even an amalgam of all the British channels.

It is of some relevance to note, when considering this problem, that section 13, dealing with programming refers to the national culture and to upholding the democratic values enshrined in the Constitution. Then paragraph (c) provides:

...have regard to the desirability of promoting understanding of the values and traditions of countries other than the State, including in particular the values and traditions of such countries which are members of the European Economic Community.

On the one hand we have the Authority being asked to pay particular attention and have particular regard to the countries which are in the EEC. On the other hand we have the suggestion—I know the Minister has indicated on a number of occasions that he favours the view — that the second channel should be confined to one British channel. That seems entirely at variance with section 13 of this Bill. I would certainly hope that when we have open broadcasting, a second channel, it will really be open, and that it will not merely be one British programme but a selection of programmes available in various European countries. I find it very difficult to understand what appears to be the Minister's view on this subject. I have some doubts whether it can be confined to one programme. Can the practical difficulties, the copyright and the technical difficulties be overcome?

The Minister dealt with section 16 at great length. We had a very interesting dissertation on the philosophy of censorship and it was obvious that the Minister indulged in what can properly be described as an agonising reappraisal of this matter. I am glad that, having gone through this reappraisal, he reached the right conclusion: the conclusion being that the Government in 1960 were right in asking for the powers contained in section 31 and that the Oireachtas at the time were right in giving these powers. The Minister asked a number of questions in the course of his speech and answered them. All these questions — not in so many words but substantially and in essence — were asked in 1960 and were answered properly. I can understand that, having regard to the views expressed by the Minister and many Members of the then Opposition, having introduced something which is a confirmation of the decision made that time and which represents a change from their point of view, this change should be properly explained and rationalised. The Minister did a very good job in doing that. Because his conclusions were the right ones, I will overlook some of the asides and weaknesses in the arguments he put forward.

The Minister suggests that section 16 of the Bill is more acceptable than section 31 of the Act. The only real change in it is the provision for a statutory order. That is certainly a good amendment. The wording of section 16 (1) does not limit the power of the Minister significantly, because any Minister could form an opinion about almost anything that it might lead to crime or disorder. Consequently in so far as this is suggested as a means of limiting the power of the Minister, I do not think it limits his power to any significant extent. Section 31 as it stood was better. There may be occasions — I must confess I find it difficult to give a satisfactory example — in the future when a Minister may want to issue this kind of an order without being able to say that it is likely to lead to crime or disorder.

On the other hand it could be a matter where the national interest was very much at stake. It might be something to do with very delicate diplomatic negotiations taking place during a limited period and a Minister might feel that it was his duty to limit comment for a limited period. Section 31 made provision for something other than crime or disorder and, to that extent, it was more effective. The fact that this might be abused if it was not limited in the way proposed by the Minister is adequately covered by the section which provides that the order must be laid before the House. That in itself, would ensure that the section could not be abused. The Minister would have been better advised to leave section 31 as it stood, but to add the subsection dealing with the statutory order. The combination of the two would be more effective and, at the same time, would ensure that no abuse — in so far as one can ensure that — was made of the Minister's power under the section.

The remaining comments I wish to make on this Bill would be more appropriate to Committee Stage. I should like to express my appreciation to the Minister and to the draftsmen of the method in which the amendments have been proposed. The method of substituting sections for sections that are being amended is an improvement on the formal amendment which has been the practice in the past. It does not go as far as I should like it to go from that point of view but it is certainly an improvement. Even for that small mercy I am grateful and I am sure that legal practitioners generally will share my gratitude.

There are many important issues to bear in mind when considering this Bill, issues which no doubt will come to the fore during Committee Stage. For the moment I am mainly concerned about certain matters affecting the staff of RTE. They are matters which can be clarified at the outset. One is the important matter of continuity of employment and expansion of job opportunities in RTE.

Recently, a study by the members of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union on RTE revealed that between 600 and 800 jobs may be at risk if the Bill goes through in its present form. I do not know the exact basis of that estimate, but I know that the Minister very kindly received a delegation from the union in order to discuss the whole matter and he gave certain assurances to the delegation.

I should like to read from a union report of that meeting with the Minister very briefly on the question of standards and jobs. The union report states the the Minister said the Government would not allow the standards of the national broadcasting service to run down, nor would they allow jobs in broadcasting to be jeopardised. If necessary, the licence fee would be increased, or a subsidy provided. He went on to say it was a point of principle with the Government that the employment content should be maintained.

That assurance is very much appreciated by the union, by the staff, and by all concerned. Nevertheless, it needs some little clarification. The assurance is given in respect of jobs which might be at risk because of lack of revenue — consequently, the Minister's reference to an increase in the licence fee or the provision of a subsidy. However, it may well be that redundancy of itself could take place, that jobs simply will not be there. It is not therefore a question of providing money. I would ask the Minister to comment on this, when he is replying.

I should also like to refer to another staff matter in the area of worker-participation. The Government are of course sponsoring industrial democracy — call it what you like — in private industry, and we all support this effort. Employment in RTE perhaps more than in any other employment requires the full co-operation of every member of the staff if the service is to succeed. In my experience that full co-operation has always been forthcoming. I was a member of the first Authority. It should be based, not only on the implementation of policy but actual participation in the formulation of that policy. I should like the Minister to comment on this aspect of my remarks.

I feel a certain responsibility in the areas I have spoken about, not only as a Member of this House, not only as an officer of the union catering for a vast number of the employees of RTE, but also a personal responsibility. In 1960, I was honoured by the then Government by being asked to become a member of the first Authority. We had of course to start completely from scratch. Very few people in Ireland had any experience of television, technical, engineering or any other kind of experience. One of my tasks, as a member of the Authority, was to visit the BBC, ITV and other television stations in Europe for the purpose of gaining experience of various techniques.

It was also my task to interview staff. We were responsible for getting quite a few Irish people employed at every level in television in the BBC and other stations to take up employment with us. They were very anxious to come back to Ireland and to give us the benefit of their experience. In many cases they did this at a financial sacrifice. They did it also on the understanding — and members of the Authority who interviewed them were authorised to tell them — that they would be given the maximum participation in the making of policy in so far as the Authority was concerned. I am sure we would all agree that the staff of RTE have given tremendous service to the national television service and they are entitled to full consideration in this Bill.

This is a very important measure. I should like to go through it, section by section, while not, of course, engaging in a Committee Stage debate at this stage. We can reserve our right to deal with specific amendments on Committee Stage.

There is one matter which emerges straight away in the first section and is repeated in subsequent sections which indicates that the Minister is bringing in this measure with a closed mind in regard to the second channel, with a mind that is closed to it being other than merely a channel transmitting BBC 1, or whatever preferable programme the Minister may direct the RTE Authority to adopt. There are sections in the Bill which clearly indicate that this is the attitude. Section 1 defines a rebroadcast. It says:

"rebroadcast" means the simultaneous broadcast by the Authority of a broadcast of another broadcasting organisation.

On Committee Stage we propose to put down an amendment to that. It will provide that "rebroadcast" means the simultaneous broadcast by the Authority of broadcasts or broadcast of other broadcasting organisations, so as to ensure that if there is a second channel — and I welcome it; I welcome the fact, from the point of the growing importance of this great medium in our daily lives, that there is to be a second channel — that second channel shall not be confined to a channel that the Minister may direct the RTE Authority to adopt. It should not be confined to a BBC channel which the Minister may direct the Authority to adopt so that the Authority may adopt a specific channel, directed by the Minister to be the alternative channel.

The same thinking runs right through the various sections. For instance, in section 3, the Minister guarantees impartiality — and rightly so — in regard to RTE itself as it is at present constituted. At the same time, subsection (1B) of section 3, this particular section guaranteeing impartiality, reads:

...shall not apply to anything rebroadcast by the Authority pursuant to a direction given by the Minister under section 6 of the Broadcasting Authority (Amendment) Act, 1975.

What that means, in effect, is that "rebroadcast" as defined in this Bill means a rebroadcast directed by the Minister to the authority under section 6 and that rebroadcast under direction of the Minister is not subject to the rules of impartiality written into section 3. I appreciate that the Minister can answer me by saying that he cannot anticipate what will happen in the BBC 1 when he directs the Authority to relay it through Ireland. He cannot guarantee the impartiality of BBC 1 but it flows from the adoption of the principle on his part that BBC 1 shall be the programme which he shall direct the Authority to adopt and that he then must relieve BBC 1 or whatever broadcast he directs the Authority to adopt of the strictures which he is imposing, and rightly so, on the RTE Authority itself in regard to maintaining impartiality in regard to all matters.

I would wish that we would have a constructive debate here. I am talking about a fundamental matter of principle because there is much that is good in this debate. I agree with the idea of having a broadcasting complaints commission. I will have some points to make in detail as to how it should be improved and could be improved in my opinion, but in broad outline I am in favour of a broadcasting complaints commission of this kind to ensure that there is impartiality and to ensure that somebody at least can, as it were, hold the reins between the public, the Authority, the Government and the Oireachtas.

Following on the point I have already made in regard to the earlier sections, when I see that this broadcasting complaints commission again cannot inquire into any matter emanating from the rebroadcast directed by the Minister to the Authority, I am outraged because if the Minister wants BBC 1 broadcast throughout Ireland by his direction to RTE, I can understand the practicalities whereby he cannot ensure that BBC 1 from London are impartial and that he, sitting here in his office in Dublin, cannot direct BBC 1 in London to be impartial. Not alone does he do that, but he proceeds to exempt them from any complaint before the complaints commission so that a particular programme may start on whatever rebroadcast is directed by the Minister to the Authority, a programme which is inimical to our national interests, inimical to many other interests that are held dear and cherished by our people. Such an on-going programme may meet with much objection and many complaints from people. A complaints commission is established, rightly so, in my view. This complaints commission under section 4 is confined solely to dealing with complaints in regard to RTE's home produced programmes and specifically the section says:

This section shall not apply to anything rebroadcast by the Authority pursuant to a direction given by the Minister under section 6 of the Broadcasting Authority (Amendment) Act, 1975.

Where is the reason in this? I can see a scintilla of reason in the Minister removing the directive of impartiality when he cannot impose impartiality on London from Dublin, but I fail to see how and why, if an Irish citizen makes a complaint to the complaints commission in regard to a particular programme coming from London, or from elsewhere — the Minister may have other capitals in mind — an Irish citizen is precluded from objecting to the complaints commission in regard to this programme. It is a matter that the Minister might have a look at.

There is a very real difference, if one looks at it in any sort of intellectual or intelligent way, between excluding the Minister's rebroadcast from the impartiality stricture and removing the Minister's rebroadcast from the ordinary complaint on the part of the Irish citizen. The Minister may say that the programme has taken place. But this is not the case. There are many television programmes that are of a continuing on-going nature, serialisation programmes, continuing programmes, obviously leading in a certain direction. It may be quite obvious on the rebroadcast tonight that this particular programme is a highly undesirable programme. A number of Irish citizens may object to it. It may be repeated or continued or followed on the following week and yet Irish citizens are precluded, as the section now stands, from objecting to it. I would ask the Minister to have a very close look at it between now and Committee Stage and I think he will realise that there is a very real distinction between that exclusion and the exclusion in the earlier section.

The media have put out a miasma of liberal thinking and a miasma of what you might call a liberal ethic about this Bill. The Minister gave us an Aristotelian and very interesting disquisition on the whole problem of how the State has to hold the balance between censorship and freedom, a very interesting philosophical disquisition which I read with great interest the other night in bed with the 'flu. I found it immensely readable, not quite relevant, but very interesting. I largely agree that the whole purpose of civilized society is to hold some balance between having the basic freedoms to which we all aspire as civilized people and, at the same time, having the degree of control necessary to protect those freedoms in order to prevent anarchy causing a degeneration into a state where Fascism or something akin to that appears to be the only answer.

I agree with the Minister on the philosophical disquisition at the end of his speech, so we aread idem on that. But this sort of disquisition might seem in some way to hide the basic time bomb of ruthless draconian ministerial power written into section 6. I shall read the section again. It comes back to my rebroadcast point:

The Minister may, after consulation with the Authority, direct the Authority to rebroadcast programmes broadcast from any source other than the Authority and specified in the direction.

Subsection (2) states that:

The Authority shall comply with a direction under this section.

One may have all sorts of nice cosmetic improvements, which by and large I welcome, especially that in regard to the section dealing with the Authority or dismissing a member of the Authority. The majority of the Oireachtas must agree to a dismissal; it must be debated in the Oireachtas. That is desirable enough. It is nothing marvellous. It might be highly embarrassing for the member in question at times and it is arguable which is the better way to do it: whether the Minister should do it simpliciter or whether it should be referred to the Oireachtas for approval of the Minister's decision.

Personally, in these cases, I am for the Government making a decision. But I will not argue the point. It is not an important point. Again it is part of the miasma surrounding this Bill. It has been built up into an important point, but it means very little. It is the same to me, regardless of which way the Minister wants to do it, as long as the power is retained.

In his speech he argued forcibly for the ultimate power to remove a member of the Authority to be reserved to the Government. Ultimately that is essential. The Minister adds "only after resolutions are passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas for its removal".

We all know the facts of life. We know that, when a Government are elected after a general election, that Government command a majority in both Houses of the Oireachtas. The only change here is that, instead of the Minister doing it and not having a debate in the Oireachtas, the Minister does it now and has a debate in the Oireachtas and the vote is passed approving of his decision. Depending on what way you read it, it is purely cosmetic. It looks a bit more democratic, but it does not add one bit to the procedure. Again it is part of this miasma of liberalism with which the Minister has surrounded the Bill.

The question that arises in section 6 is a far different matter. Section 6 has nothing got to do with the principles in the original broadcasting Act to which this Bill is an amendment. The original broadcasting Act of 1960 established the whole notion of an independent broadcasting authority. Section 6 has very little to do with that. Section 6 is not concerned with RTE or with its radio and domestic programmes. These are guaranteed to be independent subject to the restrictions in the interests specified by the Minister in this Bill, with which I would agree. Section 6 has nothing to do with this. Section 6 deals with the rebroadcast of programmes. Coming back to the point I made on earlier sections, although it is not specified precisely anywhere in this Bill what sort of rebroadcasting the Minister envisages, I should like him to specify what sort of rebroadcasting he envisages.

The Minister is making sure by section 6 that, whatever the Authority think, he will direct the Authority to rebroadcast programmes broadcast from any source other than the Authority specified in the direction. The Authority shall comply with the direction under this section. There it is. That is the brutal, fascist, direct ministerial control section. That is the section that enables the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs to direct his so-called independent Authority to rebroadcast from whatever station he, the Minister, thinks fit they should rebroadcast and that they should comply with this direction. That is what we are talking about. That is highly illiberal, quite the most illiberal section written into any of the various Acts dealing with television and broadcasting generally since the foundation of the State.

I am very glad that Senator Fintan Kennedy spoke before me because I have here a copy ofLiberty, March, 1975. I am very glad to be on the mailing list of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union. I read the magazine regularly. The major trade union in the country tells the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs quite bluntly in their headline: “BBC 1 is not the answer, Dr. O'Brien”. They make a number of very important points. The principal one has been made by Senator Kennedy. It is this. We have built up a reservoir of creative talent here. Without question that reservoir of creative talent, together with technicians and all the ancillary employment associated with the national television network, is going to be affected by the introduction, on an encouraged capital basis by the Minister, of a network carrying a programme from an outside broadcasting organisation. There is capital cost involved, as far as the Minister is concerned, in organising that network. There will be an advertising revenue loss and there will be disemployment.

Perhaps the Minister in his reply would give guarantees under these three headings: what capital cost will be involved in having the Irish State enable BBC 1, or some other broadcasting station from some other capital city to install here with its wavelength? What advertising loss would be involved to RTE in having BBC 1 broadcast here without an advertising revenue from it? What loss will there be in the practical terms of employment? This article is so good that I intend to quote from it at some length. It deals with the annual general meeting of the sound radio section of the employees of the broadcasting service. I quote:

We have made representations to the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs on the possibility of setting up a second channel. Apart from the fact that we would have complete control over it this would provide more jobs. The rebroadcasting of BBC 1 television will result, the section feels, in a run-down in RTE following a loss of viewers. Revenue would fall as well perhaps by as much as £2 million.

The outcome of the meeting was the unanimous passing of a strongly worded resolution.

"The ITGWU Sound Radio Section wishes to bring to the attention of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs the extreme gravity with which we view his stated policy of rebroadcasting BBC 1 Television in preference to the introduction of a second national channel. Implementation of this policy, which is without precedence in any sovereign state, would be paid for by the Irish public. It would seriously weaken the present financial structure of RTE and reduce substantially RTE's ability to provide a service worthy of the Irish people. The resultant run-down of RTE because of the loss of viewers, staff redundancies and lack of growth in regional programming would lead to a situation in which RTE would not be able to maintain its rightful position as the national station."

The Television Section at RTE has come out fully in support.

The Section said that if the Minister succeeded the results for Irish broadcasting and those employed in it would be disastrous. The statement emphasised the fact that faced with unequal competition from one of the most powerful broadcasting corporations in the world RTE would suffer a rapid decline in its audiences and a consequent loss in advertising revenue. It would become a regional channel complementing BBC 1, which itself would win the status of a national station.

The alternative proposed by the union in meetings with the Minister of a second Irish channel would provide all viewers with a better service and safeguard jobs. It is estimated that between 500 and 800 jobs could be lost under Dr. O'Brien's scheme. The second Irish channel could be used to rebroadcast the best available material from all other sources and would cater for minority interests.

That, quotation fromLiberty of March, 1975, represents, almost word for word, my feelings in this matter. My feelings in this matter are not said in any political way or with any political bias. Whatever party or whatever Minister sat in that chair I would not be party to that Minister bringing in a Bill which, if it does not explicitly state it, sets up the structure whereby the Minister can bring in here as the major broadcasting organisation, one broadcast from London totally inimical and opposed to Irish interests and, as such has been seen to be so opposed over many years. It is a very serious matter and one that has not been sufficiently highlighted in the miasma of minor amendments that have been made in other areas.

I would ask the Minister to consider how this matter could be dealt with. It was recommended by the Broadcasting Review Commission, as the Minister is well aware. It was the main majority recommendation of the number of very sensible men and women who sat around a table and recommended this.

Why not have a division within RTE that would establish liaison and contact with all the principal television services in Britain, Europe and North America or indeed anywhere else in the world and plan ahead programmes of a high standard — the standard we see on BBC 2, for instance? Selected programmes from BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV or UTV, from Germany, from France, and from North America could be meshed together so as to give the Irish people a truly international alternative television network. Side by side with RTE as it now stands one would have this excellent international counterpart with the best in international sport, culture, current events, current affairs, views, history and so on.

Why is the Minister so committed to having BBC 1 alone or, if not to that, committed to a station that he will direct the Authority to rebroadcast programmes from and that they, the Authority, must comply with that direction? What sinister motive is there in this? What is the reason for reserving the power involved in a situation of this kind?

I would have thought that any reason in the matter would incline towards the view of the advisory committee, would incline towards the view that has been expressed by Irish people of all political views. Why not have a second channel under our control with selected programmes? I do not like using the word "selected", but I mean programmes selected on a liberal basis, on the basis of TAM rating, on the basis of quality and on the basis of how different they are from what is projected on RTE. Why not have two programmes as they have in Britain, BBC 1 and BBC 2? Why not have our own Authority controlling in that manner a television service where they could cull and pick the very best in television services throughout the world?

I grant the Minister the point that many of these programmes would, of course, be BBC programmes. Some of the BBC current affairs programmes are probably the best in the English-speaking world. Some of their sports programmes are highly attractive and are wanted here in Ireland. That is agreed. But why confine yourself to one station? Why say that this station, and this station alone, will be allowed in, warts and all, good programmes and bad, instead of the Authority reserving the right to contract with the BBC for the programmes that are good and contract with other stations for other programmes that are considered good also and combine the two into a sensible alternative broadcasting service? It would require a very good intellectual answer to that question to satisfy me and the Irish people.

I am giving the Minister fair warning that, as far as we are concerned in our party — and I should be very proud to associate myself with the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union and with any other people in this community who feel strongly in this matter — that we are going to fight this all the way both here and in the Dáil. I am speaking on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party when I say I regard this as the real issue in this Bill and I do not regard the cosmetics as being an issue at all. I do not regard it as any issue whatever that the Minister decided to remove a member of the board by a resolution of the House rather than doing so directly himself. This is the issue where the Minister may direct the Authority to rebroadcast programmes specified in his direction and the Authority must comply with that direction. That is the sort of naked power that was exercised in Ghana and other places and we saw where it led the people concerned.

I will say no more on that aspect except that we will be putting down an amendment to section 6 which will make it quite clear that the Minister may not direct the authority and that the Minister also, in talking about rebroadcasting, will use the word "broadcasts" and that these broadcasts may be selected by the RTE Authority within their own competence and not under direction from the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs.

The other aspects of the Bill which I regard as useful and which I would not be inclined to oppose are, for instance, section 13 where the Minister rightly sets out the various criteria that the Authority should have in regard to programmes, emphasising the need for peace in the whole island of Ireland and upholding the democratic values of the Constitution and so on. It is no harm to include that in the Bill.

Of course, section 31 was the other alleged hot potato. The Minister has done a cosmetic job here to some extent. Just because it was controversial under the previous administration of the 1960 Act the Minister has made certain changes. I think, like Senator Eoin Ryan, it might have been better to leave it general. It is a weakness to over-particularise in legislation. To say "Where the Minister is of opinion that a particular class of programme would be likely to lead to disorder" is placing a heavy onus on the Minister. I can see a reason for the phrase "promote or incite crime" but not "lead to disorder".

I do not disagree broadly with the Minister in section 16. This section deals with section 31, which section incurred certain political odium by reason of a political decision taken by the Government of the day. Section 2 also incurred certain political odium because the Authority was dismissed by the Government at the time. The Minister, in regard to these sections, has done a cosmetic job. It is much ado about nothing. He will have his resolution passed in the House anyway to confirm his decision to dismiss a member of the Authority because the Government of the day will have the majority. In regard to the alleged improvements on section 31 contained in section 16, my only disagreement with the Minister would be on points of detail. I would prefer if the Minister gave himself the power to deal with matter contrary to the national interest.

The main point is that section 2 and section 16 are not important. They need not have got the amount of space they got in the Minister's introductory brief. They represent no substantial change from what was there before. What we do have, and what is dangerous and which we will oppose right through, is the sort of draconian dictatorship implicit in section 6. We will write into section 6 a specific section on the lines of that recommended by the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union in regard to an alternative channel which will be free to broadcast matter from any television service which the Authority considers appropriate for distribution through its network.

There are two small points before I finish. One is the question of impartiality. A very noticeable feature of television programmes is the inability or unwillingness of members of the Government to face members of the Opposition on political programmes on radio or television. I always welcome these programmes. I enjoy them and have had many a joust with the present Minister. I cannot understand why he and his colleagues have tended to run away from these programmes and have abandoned a regular programme such as "The Politicians". That was a feature for years where the Minister of the day faced Opposition Members, debated on television his or her point and had it out in open debate on television. Now there appears to be a practice of bringing Ministers in as clown entertainers on "The Late Late Show" or on some programmes of that kind instead of having them on serious current affairs programmes like "7 Days" where, under an experienced chairman, they can debate the matter openly. It is either done in the clown fashion on "The Late Late Show" or else it is done by way of a Government statement without any ripost being immediately available. The subtlety of this, that television makes its impact immediately and, unless refuted immediately, it sticks. The image is the message and the image becomes the truth.

There is a directive under subsection (1), paragraph (a) of section 3 that all news broadcast by the Authority is reported and presented in an objective and impartial manner without any expression of the body's own views. That is fair enough. Likewise, paragraphs (b) and (c) are above reproach. But the sinister aspect of this matter, which conveys precisely what has been happening over the past two years, are three lines in paragraph (b). This paragraph relates to current affairs or matter of public controversy, matters of current public debate, in other words political matters. That part of the section reads:

In applying paragraph (b) of this subsection, two or more related broadcasts may be considered as a whole; provided that every interval between such broadcasts is reasonable.

The point is quite clear. One may get an appearance of impartiality or reasonableness by having a political programme on tonight and having the points made in that programme refuted tomorrow night so that equal time is given on the current affairs programme tonight and equal time is given to the opposite view the following night. That is not the point. The point is the immediate image and impact made on the member of the public viewing the programme.

Those three lines seek to imply that impartiality can be got from a medium such as television through giving equal time at a distance apart in time but that is wrong. The message has been received in the first transmission, the big lie has been delivered and it has not been refuted. If the big lie is refuted the following day people do not know what is being talked about. The big lie must be refuted there and then in confrontation in debate. We have not had any political confrontation in debate on radio or television of any consequence since the present Government came into power. Any programmes which existed, involving such immediate confrontation between Government and Opposition have been abandoned disgracefully. The media are being used as a parade ground where intellectual views can be strutted on their own with equal time given at a later date for alternative views to be expressed. The alleged intellectual views strutted first stay put and keep goosestepping forward.

We will not let the Minister away with this piece of legislation and, in particular, section 6. We will oppose it strongly and it will also be opposed vigorously in Dáil Éireann.

Business suspended at 6.05 p.m. and resumed at 7.30 p.m.

I should like to pay tribute to the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs for bringing in this major Bill, the provisions of which fulfil the anticipations and expectations that were voiced and commented upon in advance of its introduction. Even if some of these provisions are of a contentious nature I am sure the Minister will have his own response to them.

Apart from the financial provision, the Bill contains four important provisions: the complaints commission, the control of broadcasting matter, the idea of open broadcasting as envisaged by the Minister, and the procedure for the removal from office of members of the Authority. The importance of the Bill is assessed when one realises that, in the absence of any three of these four provisions, the Bill would still continue to be a serious one for consideration and one which will have long-term effects on our lives.

The four provisions have merit, even if there is implicit in those provisions difficulties in regard to their being successfully concluded in the terms envisaged by the Minister. The complaints commission is long overdue. In England there is a Press Council which has been effective, although at times they ran into trouble in regard to their conclusions. If in England they saw reason to have such a forum for the receipt and consideration of complaints in regard to how the Press, in particular, deal with matters, then we, after 13 or 14 years experience of our own State television Authority, should see the need for such a commission.

There is a difficulty that, once a deed is done on television, the harm is done. Very rarely can vindication of one's character or vindication of one's case catch up on what has been perhaps a defamation of character or a misquotation or bad representation of a case. Even if there is a belated vindication of anybody who complains to this commission, we should welcome the forum and procedures being established by the Minister.

With regard to the removal from office of members of the Authority, this is undoubtedly an improvement on previous legislation because it allows debate in the Houses of the Oireachtas of this matter. If there is a likelihood that a political note will creep into such a debate we should not shrink from welcoming the provision that, where there is a removal, both Houses of the Oireachtas will have the opportunity of debating it in the fullest possible manner.

The control of the matters shown on television is one of the items in this Bill which has given rise to most contentious comment. In dealing with contentious matters raised in regard to the control of items on television the Minister under this Bill no longer has unrestricted power, as he had in the original legislation. However, how is this control to operate in regard to matter rebroadcast under section 6? There has been much comment on the changing of the format of the wording in regard to matters which shall not be produced on television, such as matters likely to incite to crime or lead to disorder. A proper and satisfactory form of terminology to satisfy everybody could never be achieved. However, that does not take away from the fact that the Minister here in such warning is striking a precautionary note rather than a punitive one. I look forward to that being experienced when this Bill is passed.

On the open broadcasting aspect of the Bill, I regret the Minister denoted only a little of his excellent speech to it. The Minister sees this, in his own words, as one of the less controversial aspects of the Bill. This is natural enough on the Minister's part, particularly at the present time when the institutions of this State are under considerable pressures from outside forces. In that context he is inclined to give more time to discussion of the controls necessary for what actually goes out on our screens.

In regard to open broadcasting we must look at the situation as it is at present. Along the east coast and in the north-western parts of the country there is unrestricted viewing of BBC, UTV or HTV. Elsewhere there is the feeling of annoyance on the part of people in what they call "deprived areas" that they have not this amenity. I do not believe that they would ever accept anything less than what we have on the east coast. If anything less than BBC or UTV continues to be seen in parts of the country and is not available in other parts, there will be a certain divisiveness in the State. If the public in those deprived areas submit a case that they are entitled to the same multi-channel communication as we have, it is an argument that one finds very hard to resist. It is all the more difficult for any of us who are living on this side of the country to resist.

We have almost 20 years experience of reception of BBC. We should ask ourselves questions in the light of what is being proclaimed and has been proclaimed here today. If the BBC is to be received in other parts of the country should it be selective or edited? If we who have been fortunate for 20 years to have received BBC and UTV were told that from tomorrow we would have an edited version of programmes from those stations, how would we take that proposition? If we were told that from tomorrow we would have to pay an increased TV licence because we are receiving BBC and UTV, would we accept it without demur? Would we further accept it without demur if told that there was to be a form of selective viewing? These are questions I put honestly and I ask that they be answered honestly. I cannot ask the people in the west of Ireland, or in the south, to receive anything less than I have been receiving for almost 20 years.

To further my argument I would put this question: are the people of south Armagh and south Down any more corrupt or any less believers in their traditions, which are most akin to our traditions, as a result of seeing BBC 1 and UTV? Are we on the east coast any more corrupt or any less aware of our traditions as a result of having viewed BBC and UTV for 20 years? They are important questions put honestly because I cannot agree to any form of edited viewing of channels which I have been content enough to live with for a long period. The views of the majority of the people who have had these privileges would not be any different from mine.

The Minister should have given us a little more information about his definition of "open broadcasting". I agree with Senator Lenihan that this will possibly be the most contentious part of this Bill. When our national security affairs have eased somewhat we shall have to deal with the question of open broadcasting. I recognise the fears of those people who feel that the floodgates will be opened when BBC and UTV are beamed to the southwestern parts. It is difficult to answer this question particularly when one is talking from the viewpoint of a person who has been a sort of "pirate", as all people have been on the east coast getting a service free of charge.

If tomorrow we were told we had to pay an increased TV licence — as we will have to when this Bill becomes law in regard to open broadcasting — would we accept without complaint an edited form of BBC programmes? This would be a much reduced quality programme than we have been receiving heretofore. I do not think that those who had the privilege in the past will be pleased with having a reduced form of BBC or UTV programmes beamed in their direction in future.

From my experience, living in a Border county and meeting people from Northern Ireland, I do not see that they are any worse off, morally or otherwise, as a result of receiving BBC 1 or UTV. I do not think the people of my county and those living along the east coast are any worse off as a result of having had 20 years experience of these programmes.

The Minister has faced up to this problem rationally. He sees a complaint from parts of the country that they want facilities on a par with other areas and he sees the financial implications of setting up a second RTE channel. If it were strictly an RTE channel — let us call it RTE 2 — we would still have clamour coming from those areas because we could receive TV programmes from outside the borders. The clamour would continue, and I do not believe that the setting up of an RTE 2 would cancel out that clamour.

I am hopeful that, when the era of open broadcasting as envisaged by the Minister comes into operation, this will allow additional scope for RTE, even as it exists, to devote a considerable further programme time to Irish programmes. It is deplorable that only 2.2 per cent of programmes are in the Irish language and these are mostly restricted to news and current features. I recognise that RTE may have set out in the early 1960s with the best of intentions of giving a bigger percentage of programmes in the Irish language.

They ran into financial problems because if they did not put out what the public wanted they would not get the revenue from advertising. I hope that if there is open broadcasting as envisaged we will have a greater percentage of our programmes in the Irish language. We cannot have any pride in what RTE is doing about the Irish language although there is such a wide variety of material from which they can pick. Where are all our historical heroes of ancient and modern times? Why is there not an effort to produce bilingual comedies particularly when more people than ever have a knowledge of the Irish language? Having 2.2 per cent of the programmes on RTE in Irish is not a great inducement or encouragement to anybody to speak Irish in any practical day-to-day manner.

The Minister is to be complimented on facing up to a challenge and accepting that no matter what he does he will be criticised. If he opens the floodgates some people would like to say he will be criticised; if he does not give full unrestricted scope to the BBC or UTV he will be criticised. He is on a loser no matter what way he turns but he is facing up to the task before him. It is strange to hear people complaining about the restricted nature of programmes when not so long ago they were proclaiming their desire for multi-channel television in the west.

I could not face the people in my county, in any Border counties or along the east coast if I said that the people of the west or the south should be treated differently than we have been treated for 20 years. I could not face the people in the east and north-west if I said they would have to pay a licence for what they have been seeing for almost 20 years and in return for paying a licence they would receive edited BBC or UTV programmes in future. We are not any worse off by having these channels beamed to us. This is one way of answering criticism from people who have a genuine grievance. A second channel will provide an opportunity for RTE to give a greater amount of its output to help our traditions, our own language and our culture.

All of this is theoretical in the absence of more details of what the Minister has in mind. I do not think this whole question of open broadcasting will be fully resolved and will meet with a reasonable amount of satisfaction in the public's mind until we know what the Minister has as his motive. I accept there are financial provisions involved and that there is a desire that the people of Northern Ireland should see us as we are and that we should see them as they are. The Minister sees BBC 1 — Northern Ireland as a means towards this end.

However we should not give away something without getting something in return. The Minister should tell us at what stage the negotiations are at in regard to reciprocal arrangements with the other broadcasting authorities.

There is nothing in this Bill one need be afraid of. Those who proclaim fears about supression of freedom of speech, who see dangers in terminology, need not be unduly afraid. The Minister's object is to be precautionary and cautionary and not punitive. Those who talk about suppression of the freedom of speech must recognise that suppression itself is a matter of degree and to use a discreet amount of it does not imply in any context the utmost of severity.

I join with other Senators in welcoming this Bill because it reaffirms and continues the basic principle of having an independent authority acting as trustee of the public interest. This is extremely important and I welcome the fact that the principle has been reaffirmed and reinforced, because this Bill would give the members of that authority proper security of tenure. There are also other provisions which are real improvements relating to the operation of the national broadcasting service. However I hope the Bill, during its passage through both Houses of the Oireachtas, will undergo substantial change, that the Minister will be prepared to accept amendments and to accept the democratic process in its full sense.

This Bill contains, in section 6, a fundamental policy decision to which I am totally opposed and which I find unacceptable. It also contains provisions extending the power of the Minister to interfere in the internal working of RTE in a way which goes beyond, in some respects, the powers which exist under the present Act. I find this unacceptable. I shall deal with these in some detail later and I shall be proposing or supporting amendments in relation to these particular provisions which I regard as a new and substantial encroachment on the internal autonomy and independence of the Authority. The Minister has failed to create in this Bill the sort of balance of interests which is desirable if we are to have full freedom of expression, the necessary control to safeguard the public interest and the constitutional principles.

Before examining the provisions of the Bill I should like to respond to the Minister's long and eloquent speech. The first general comment I should like to make about his speech is that he appears to have either misunderstood, miscalculated or, perhaps, deliberately camouflaged what was likely to be the real focus of attention by the Members of the House on this Bill. I am glad that one Senator after another who has contributed has gone to the real point of interest and controversy, the provision in section 6 enabling the rebroadcast of programmes. The Minister dealt with this in a very summary and brief fashion. He stated:

This amending Bill has two main purposes. The first is to clarify and expand the duties of the RTE Authority in fulfilling their task of providing a national broadcasting service in the light of developments, experience and new insights since the authority was established. The second main purpose of the Bill is to provide greater autonomy and freedom for the broadcasting service within clearly defined statutory restraints and obligations while at the same time improving public control in certain areas.

Then the Minister goes on at a substantially later stage in his introductory speech to say:

Before returning to those thorny and interesting matters let me say something about the remaining, perhaps less controversial aspects, of the Bill.

Then he goes on to deal with the concept of open broadcasting. I really wonder whether the Minister was being unduly naïve, or whether there was an attempt to draw the fire of the Senators by inviting them down a leafy green lane where we would define sophisticated concepts of liberalism, or whether in fact it was a genuine miscalculation in his part. Whatever the reason behind it, I am glad that the debate has centred very substantially on the question of choice of channel, on the question of the possibility of rebroadcasting a television service from outside the country. With the exception of Senator Markey, who seemed to be quite favourably disposed to this idea, there has not been a single Senator who has endorsed this concept of rebroadcasting a channel from outside the country.

I certainly see very grave dangers in this approach. We have not been given the sort of information on which to make a really considered judgment on the matter. There are very searching questions which will have to be asked and the Minister will have to come back to the Seanad at a later stage with a specific proposal in this area if he has a precise package to put before the House; and not ask us to give him the enabling powers contained in section 6 of this Bill, a sort ofcarte blanche, to then negotiate and possibly come up with an agreement for rebroadcasting.

However, before turning to these very important issues in the Bill, I should like to give some consideration to the matters of principle which the Minister expressly wished to hear discussed: in particular the question of State censorship and the degree to which it is acceptable that there can or should be limits on freedom of expression in a democratic state. The Minister set out various formulations of principles in this context and invited comments by Senators. He invited them to pass judgment as to whether the Bill incorporated the formulations of principles. There is a basic difficulty in responding to that approach in that the very concepts are so general that one could spend a long time defining what one meant by either a choice of word or a particular term, and this would end as a rather academic exercise, not really closely related to the Bill.

In considering the question of censorship I should like to begin by putting a relatively long quotation on the record, which is as good an analysis of the concept of censorship, including the type of censorship which the State exercises in relation to the broadcasting media, as I have seen anywhere, and therefore I would ask the House to be indulgent. It is contained in a book entitledCensorship in Britain by Dr. Paul O'Higgins, which was published in 1972. First of all, he warns that censorship must be considered in its broad aspect and I quote:

...censcorship is used to describe the processeswhereby restrictions are imposed upon the collection, dissemination and exchange of information, opinions and ideas.

And then he goes on to give what I think is a very clear and useful analysis of the different forms of censorship. It is worth placing that on the record. He says:

Censorship as defined takes a number of different forms. Since the subject of censorship is one which is rarely discussed, there is no agreement on the terminology to be used, so we have to invent our own terms.

First of all, there is what may be calledautonomous or self-censorship. This is used to describe the processes whereby such factors as greed, fear, ambition, self-interest and other conscious or unconscious motives lead to an individual refraining from the expression of opinion or ideas; or lead him to express them only in a distorted and even perverted way.

Secondly, there issocial censorship which may be used to describe ways in which groups, or society as a whole, discourage the expression of particular opinions and ideas. A full understanding of social censorship, which includes education in its broadest sense, is dependent upon one's view of the nature of society. If one believes that a certain dominant group or groups or classes ultimately determine and influence ideas and opinions in society in a way favourable to their own interests, then at bottom one will regard social censorship in Britain as having a function to protect the existing order of things and, in particular, the interests of the dominant groups.

Thirdly,legal censorship is a special form of social censorship, wherein the rules determining what may or may not be freely expressed are embodied in rules enforced by policemen, courts and other similar institutions. Legal censorship is itself usually regarded as taking two forms. First of all, there is pre-censorship (sometimes called prior censorship), under which legal rules confer authority on some person to examine the text of what is proposed to be said, published, performed or distributed, and only after receiving the licence of such authority is the dissemination of the information concerned lawful. Dissemination without licence is itself a legal offence, even if the content of what is disseminated is quite harmless and not in itself unlawful. The second form of legal censorship is punitive or penal censorship (sometimes referred to as subsequent cen-sorship). In this case legal rules do not require authorisation before the matter is disseminated, but impose penalties, fines, prison, deprivation of civil rights or damages upon the persons responsible for the dissemination of material which contravenes certain limits, usually extremely vague, laid down by the law.

Fourthly, there isextra-legal censorship, by which is meant a large number of practices not expressly authorised by the law used to effect censorship. These include such aspects as the system of bluff and bluster whereby pressure is exerted by the police and others in authority to discourage the dissemination of certain material by threatening to take legal action against the disseminator — often in cases where legal action would certainly fail. They also include much more sophisticated and institutionalised system, such as D Notices.

Fifthly,voluntary censorship describes the process whereby an individual (or it may be a company or institution), without any legal authority to do so imposes upon others restrictions as to what ideas or information they may express without suffering disadvantages. Such voluntary censorship may often be institutionalised, as in the case of the Press Council, or it may involve the action of a single employer. Of course, voluntary censorship is based largely upon the acceptance of a shared set of beliefs, or code, as to what are or are not permissible opinions.

Finally,subterranean censorship has been used as a term to describe the situation where open intervention by government or other public authority is avoided, but either a public authority, or sometimes even a private person, uses its powers (given for some purpose other than explicit censorship) to effect censorship instead. One example would be the refusal of a bookseller to stock certain books because he disapproved of their content.

That analysis gives us an indication of the various ways in which one can view the concept of censorship. If that is accepted then what we are talking about in relation to broadcasting is pre-censorship or prior censorship, a censorship before the programmes are put out on the air. Of course, once the programmes have been put out on the air they are open to legal censorship of other sorts. If they infringe the law of libel or if they in some other way amount to common law offences of blasphemy, obscenity and so on, they are contravening the existing law.

Implicit in a good deal of what the Minister was saying in his speech was that other form of censorship — the social censorship which does not want to see an attack on the establishment, on the dominant group, which is trying to curtail possible criticism on the grounds, as the argument is being made increasingly, that democracy is very vulnerable in the modern day and age and therefore one must be very careful not to criticise it. This was implicit in quite a substantial part of the Minister's analysis of the attitude in Ireland towards democracy. He used particular phrases in which he appeared, either unconsciously or deliberately, to identify for all purposes the concept of a democratic state and the existingstatus quo, the present situation in Ireland today.

For example, he used phrases such as:

We practise democracy; but we do not greatly esteem it.

We elect our representatives, but then we treat them like scapegoats, and rather shabby scapegoats at that.

A strong over commitment to democracy is less than general: indulgent attitudes to certain of the enemies of democracy are frequent.

These phrases discourage honest and open criticism of thestatus quo in Ireland, of the present establishment, of the actual way in which we are governed. They have nothing whatsoever to do with a fundamental challenge to the concept of democracy. It would be wrong to confuse this concept based on the aspiration to achieve democracy in Ireland and to abide by truly democratic principles, with criticism, however sharp and harsh, of the present model.

Here again, I emphasise that one of our problems in a discussion of this sort must inevitably be one of terminology. For example, the Minister said in his opening speech:

It may be asked in parentheses whether ours actually is a liberal and democratic State. It is, I would say, as democratic as the most democratic country in the world and about as liberal as that democracy is prepared to stand. It is less liberal than other European countries but it is undoubtedly growing more liberal than it was.

I have tried to give the full quotation so as not to quote the Minister out of context. Again I would immediately have to take issue with the Minister on several grounds. I do not think that this country is as democratic as any in the world. The powers of Government and administration are highly centralised, and a substantial area of public concern is outside the control of the democratic process in a direct sense because it is under the control of State-sponsored bodies and we do not even have any parliamentary committee reviewing the performance of State-sponsored bodies.

We have failed to evolve mechanisms for allowing the individual to complain effectively against the administration — institutions such as an ombudsman or such as an impartial tribunal relating to the Garda. We do not have any regional democratic structures. On any objective analysis of the system in this country we do not come out as one of the most democratic countries either in Western Europe or in the world generally and we are fooling ourselves if we think we do.

Secondly, I do not think we have legislation which is as liberal as this country will tolerate. We have politicians without the courage to give us the legislation in certain areas which I am convinced would be not only tolerated but would be greatly appreciated by the citizens of this country. There is a failure of leadership in respect of areas where we could have more liberal laws in the sense of recognising the rights of minorities, without necessarily agreeing with or endorsing the practices of other persons and their beliefs and convictions.

In making a general observation on the arguments put forward by the Minister I would note the emphasis which he laid on the fact that democracy is under attack here and in other countries and that he identified this with criticism of the present existing Government, thestatus quo and the establishment in this country. The Minister then went on to develop his thesis of ambivalence on the part of the media and on the part of many citizens towards the IRA which he showed was reflected in the particular use of terminology. I would not disagree with him in the factual case he makes in this area; but I would differ very fundamentally with his approach, with his emphasis and, above all, with his apparent conclusions. I believe that in this area, where the statements made, the attitudes, the expressions, reflect social conditioning, reflect community thought, community ethos, the general environment, how history is being taught, there is a need not for confrontation — not to oppose and to challenge in an abrupt way — but to probe for a deeper understanding of the complex factors which have made us the community that we are, and which have created this ambivalence. It may sound strange but there is a need for kindness, for understanding and for an attempt to achieve a deeper reconciliation, a deeper understanding and a greater clarity both in the choice of terminology and also in what lies behind that choice of terminology. I believe it is counter-productive, it is polarising and it creates Pavlovic responses to confront and to lead with the chin in this area.

I believe that the Minister in his opening speech and on certain other occasions has indulged in a sort of refined form of McCarthyism as it was used in the United States in the 1950's, so that anyone who does not denounce the IRA is somehow tainted as being at least remotely a fellow traveller or a sympathiser or as being ambivalent. There is an enormous danger in accusing people for their silence, accusing them by interpreting their attitude, accusing them for the way in which they express something. This in itself, particularly coming from a Minister in the position of the present Minister, could amount to a real and practical encroachment on the liberty of expression of the individual, and it could increase social tension at a time when the whole objective should be to defuse and to lead to greater understanding and reconciliation.

I note that Senator Horgan picked up a passage which I had marked as one which displays this spirit of confrontation rather than of understanding of the problems of the professional broadcaster. It is the quotation where the Minister says:

The broadcaster's professional instinct, I believe, inclines him towards what is exciting, even sensational and to regard the possible social effects of such exposure as conjectural and outside his sphere.

Instances of active sympathy with the armed conspiracies and desire to promote their cause by propaganda are rare, though not altogether unknown. A kind of neutral professionalism, indifferent to social consequences, is much more widespread and lasting.

It is for this reason that the public interest has, in the Government's view, to be protected. That is a very sweeping and unsubstantiated statement without the back-up of the fruits of research, of very considerable and in-depth studies of public reactions to broadcasting, of solid monitoring of a substantial number of programmes in order to substantiate that conclusion. I would agree with Senator Horgan that it is like condemning all politicians because there are some bad politicians. It can undermine the morale of broadcasters in this country. It is certainly not the experience I have had in dealing with broadcasters or those in charge of current affairs programmes.

I have tried to comment in a general way on the impressions I got from listening to and reading the Minister's speech. Apart from his choice of terminology and the emphasis placed in certain areas, I do not greatly disagree with him. There is justification for State censorship. It is enshrined in our Constitution and it is reflected in our laws and reflected in both the Broadcasting Act and this Bill.

Where I differ with the Minister in the formula he has embodied in the Bill is in the way in which the balance is drawn. I would prefer to see the whole responsibility securely and confidently placed on the Independent Broadcasting Authority as trustee and caretaker of the public interest, as the authority which has a statutory obligation to be impartial, which has a statutory obligation to have regard to the public and national interest in its broadest sense, the democratic principles in the Constitution, whatever may be enshrined in the legislation, and which then has the editorial responsibility, the expertise and the duty to live up to its statutory obligations.

The real relationship between the Government and such an Independent Broadcasting Authority should be one where the Government — which can rightly claim the ultimate responsibility for national security — can issue clarifying directives to the Authority to clear up an issue where there is either a disagreement on interpretation between the particular Government and of the Broadcasting Authority or when the Authority itself has asked for such a clarifying directive where the national interest is in question. If the Authority do not comply with the directive, it is clear that the Minister has power to have the appropriate motion tabled under section 2 of this Bill if accepted, as I hope it will be, and have motions passed in both Houses to remove either certain members or, if necessary, all of the members of the Authority for the time being.

That is the balance. I will come back in more specific terms to that when I relate the conclusion that I would come to on the situation to the precise terms of this Bill. I would have no problem at all in accepting the necessity for control in this area which on the analysis by Dr. Paul O'Higgins I read out would be described as pre-censorship of broadcasting in a very limited area where it is authorised by Article 40, section 6, of the Constitution.

I shall come back to that and make at some length a point that is not without its irony: I think that not only is that form of censorship authorised by the Constitution but it is a duty on the Government under the Constitution. That is why I am of the opinion that section 6, as drafted, infringes the provisions of Article 40, section 6, of the Constitution in that the Government abdicate the responsibility contained in that Article.

I join with the various Senators who complimented the Minister on the length and range of his speech and on the way in which he in turn complimented this House by treating the subject of broadcasting so seriously and putting his views on that particular aspect down at such length. However, as I listened to him, I was astounded and disappointed that he did not take equal time to set out in full his views on the concept of choice of channel and on this so-called "open" broadcasting. There is a great deal of justifiable confusion about this whole problem. I would hope that in his reply the Minister will clarify the questions that have already been raised by other Senators and will be more forthcoming and more willing to put on the record of the House the precise proposal he has in mind and also the stage at which the negotiatons are at the moment.

It is worth tracing briefly the progress of this idea of a second channel, and then to examine what precisely may be the proposed broadcasting service which will be shown ultimately on this second channel. I shall go back as far as March, 1973, and the first interim report of the Broadcasting Review Committee. That report outlined four possibilities for programme choice. These possibilities were: open broadcasting external services; secondly, a second RTE channel; thirdly, an RTE monopoly of cable for all the larger cities and, fourthly, RTE as at present with private companies to provide multi-channel in larger areas. These seemed to the committee at that time to be the four options, and the Committee concluded in favour of the second possibility, that is, a second channel for RTE.

I have been tracing the main developments on the question of programme choice in television, beginning with the first interim report of the Broadcasting Review Committee in March, 1973. There was a change of Government at that time and the RTE Authority was asked by the new Minister — the present Minister — to give its views on this report. RTE welcomed the proposal and the recommendation that they should provide a second national television service. It is worth pausing at this point to consider why RTE would welcome this possibility. There has been a tendency by Senators to accept that there is criticism of RTE and to accept, as I certainly accept, coming from Mayo, that there is a demand for choice of channel.

There has been a failure to realise the constraints under which a national broadcasting service works when it only has one single channel. In fact RTE are, in many instances, to be greatly complimented on the job they have done over the years. They have provided a national broadcasting service. They have tried to combine this with giving a broad range of programmes despite the competition, throughout a large part of the country, with multi-channel viewing. This has not been easy. For the professional broadcaster, for the man working in RTE, it must be a very welcome prospect to have control of a second channel, and to have the possibility of developing the national broadcasting service by providing a genuine choice, by providing complementary programmes, by giving the viewers a much greater choice in a real sense and thereby being able to remove some of the criticisms which are voiced of RTE. It is hardly surprising that the RTE Authority welcomed this recommendation of the review board.

It is worth considering that the broadcasting review board and the Broadcasting Authority both endorsed the idea of second channel for RTE. I say this not because I think the Minister should never depart from expert advice and the view of those in a particular area, or profession, or discipline. Indeed, it can be a sign of political courage that a Minister is prepared to stand out on an issue and differ from his advisers in some respects. However, it is worth noting that the recommendations both of the committee who were asked to examine the question and who re-endorsed this view in their second interim report, and the view of the RTE Authority, was very solidly for a second channel.

Later a compromise proposal was put forward for a channel which would be controlled in the sense of RTE having editorial responsibility but which would consist either entirely or very largely of broadcasting material from other broadcasting services which would be rebroadcast either simultaneously or at a later stage from different broadcasting services outside the country.

To continue the sequence of events, the next matter of interest was the introduction of the Estimate by the Minister on 10th May, 1973, when he spoke of the concept of open broadcasting. As reported in Volume 265, column 873 of the Dáil Official Report the Minister said:

In principle, I favour providing the public with the widest variety of choice that is practicable, both in relation to domestic and foreign programmes. In that context, I have read with interest the Broadcasting Review Committee's proposals for a second channel which is at present under study in my Department. I also have some sympathy, however, with those who say the second channel does not meet the needs of those in the single channel area and who would like to enjoy the same variety of choice as is now available, accidentally to people in multi-channel area. Ideally I would like to see a much more widely effective freedom of the airwaves over this island. I would like, for example, not only to have RTE programmes fully available in Northern Ireland, but also to have programmes broadcast in Northern Ireland fully available throughout the Republic. I have discussed this with my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who believes as I do, that such a development would serve to promote better mutual comprehension and thereby serve the cause of peace and reconciliation. The question is a highly complex one however — and one which would require the co-operation of a number of authorities and the overcoming of various technical, legal, financial and commercial difficulties.

The Minister made a very commendable speech in introducing the Estimate in May, 1973, and I would have welcomed a development of this theme when introducing this Bill to the House. I hope the Minister will be prepared to go into much greater detail on his concept of open broadcasting, and on the degree to which he has been successful in overcoming some of the legal, financial and even, perhaps, constitutional problems which might arise.

The next development in chronological order was the publication of the second interim report of the Broadcasting Review Committee, which again endorsed the view that RTE should broadcast a second channel to give choice of channel in the single channel areas. Once again RTE submitted their observations on this report and noted that the second interim report sustained and strengthened the argument for a second television service to be provided by RTE. The Minister in August, 1973, announced that the Government were favourably disposed towards the concept of an open broadcasting area for the whole of Ireland. This was at a time when there were negotiations leading up to the Sunningdale Agreement and, indeed, the concept of open broadcasting in this country was related to developments at the political level, and is better understood in that context.

In October, 1973, the technical goahead was given. The Minister stated that the Government had authorised the provision of a transmitter network and microwave link network which would serve for broadcasting either one Northern Ireland television service or a second RTE channel. It is interesting that at that point the Minister was not talking about a potential BBC service but one Northern Ireland service or a second RTE channel. In other words, the technical green light was given for the rails to be built — if one could put it that way — and the question which we are still trying to determine, which is the major preoccupation of the Senators who have contributed, is what train will run on those rails? We still do not know what train will run on the rails which will provide the choice of channel for the single channel area. In October, 1973, the Minister, in replying to a question in the Dáil, explained that the negotiations with the British Ministry on this question were complex and would be protracted, and that it was a delicate political question.

In December, 1973, the first expression of views on this question was given by the trade unions concerned. The Irish Actors Equity, the Irish Federation of Musicians and Allied Professions, British Actors Equity, and the British musicians' unions met and issued a statement on the matter. This statement has been reinforced by those who have spoken for the trade unions during this debate. The statement said that the proposal to hand over an Irish television channel to a foreign broadcasting authority, for which there was no known precedent — I understand this is the case; there is no precedent in the world for this — while affecting the volume of employment for Irish performers on television, would also weaken the national cultural identity and reduce RTE to an irrelevancy. Even at this early stage the unions were worried about job prospects, worried about potential redundancies, and worried about the effect on RTE, the effect on the national broadcasting service.

In the early part of 1974 there were further discussions between the Authority and the Minister relating to the question of open broadcasting. The Minister specifically reassured the Authority that the Minister for Finance had accepted, in principle, the need to ensure adequate financing for RTE, to enable the service to withstand the competitive conditions of open broadcasting. Indeed, the Minister has quoted his statement on that occasion and has reaffirmed that the Minister for Finance accepts this principle and will guarantee that sufficient finances will be made available. With respect to the Minister, that is not worth the time it takes to say it. You cannot bind a Minister to future expenditure in a matter of this sort.

The harsh reality of that, if there were a second foreign channel which was competitive with RTE, and which drew viewers away from RTE, then it would be very difficult to see at a political level how you could expend the public moneys necessary to subsidise RTE to compensate for loss of advertising revenue. it would be very hard to see how you would get the political will to raise the licence fee. Would the people living in the multi-channel area, who already get this outside programme, be prepared to have their licences substantially raised? There is a very sharp political issue indeed. Undertakings of this sort are dangerous because they are misleading. They have no legal validity and, to my mind, very little reliance can be placed upon them.

On 30th January, 1974, there was a very significant development in this whole concept of open broadcasting. It was made clear by the Minister's counterpart in England, Sir John Eden, the British Minister of Posts and Telecommunications in London that, even if the irish Government decided to take BBC television, this could not bind the British Government to broadcast RTE in Northern Ireland. This is one of the matters which the Minister should clarify in his reply to this debate. Is it accepted that RTE would be rebroadcast in Northern Ireland? Or is it true that that part of the open broadcasting has been dropped, and that there is noquid pro quo for opening the airwaves of this country to BBC or to UTV?

I was under the impression that this reciprocal element had been dropped, that it was a non-starter, and that there was no question at the moment of rebroadcasting RTE in Northern Ireland. The Minister made an ambiguous reference to this in the very brief statement on this aspect which he made in his introductory speech. He said:

The Government favour using the second network for transmitting BBC 1 or UTV if, as we hope, negotiations with the British authorities, which have been going on for some time now, are successful. This would of course be a step in the direction of my open broadcasting concept, under which programmes broadcast in Northern Ireland would be fully available throughout the Republic and RTE programmes would be available throughout Northern Ireland.

The Minister owes the House a specific clarification on this point as to whether there is reciprocity in the present negotiations which are going on, which includes present specific proposals for rebroadcasting RTE programmes in Northern Ireland, or if that has been quietly dropped and is not part of the concept. Whatever ideas one may have on open broadcasting, to open the airwaves of this country to a foreign television service is not open broadcasting, whatever else it may be.

In May, 1974, the RTE Authority, realising that the Minister did not seem to be in favour of a second RTE channel, put forward an alternative proposal on co-operative broadcasting, co-operative in the sense that RTE would select worthwhile programmes from a range of broadcasting services outside the country. Here an interesting emphasis was placed on provincial broadcasting services in Britain, European services, various other networks, which were producing programmes of interest to Irish viewers, so that the second channel would be used to relay these broadcasts to the Irish public.

May I interrupt the Senator, in case she may be trying to condense what she is saying? The Minister for Labour has just been called in the Dáil, so he will not be able to be here at 9 o'clock. In the circumstances I suggest that we carry on with this debate. We had agreed to interrupt at 9 o'clock in order to take the Redundancy Contributions Motion, but the Minister is on his feet in the Dáil at the moment.

I understood that we would resume on this later, as the Redundancy Contributions Motion will not take long.

The only reason I interrupted was in case Senator Robinson was trying to condense her remarks into a few minutes.

That is not possible in the circumstances. It was at this stage, in May, 1974, when the RTE Authority were elaborating on a concept of co-operative broadcasting, that the suggestion was made of the possibility of the establishment of a consumer-type public committee which would be drawn mainly from the people living in the single-channel area, so that there would be the possibility of getting a consumer response and a real analysis of what the people in the single-channel area want.

I shall come back to that basic question when I finish the chronological account. On 17th May, 1974, the Leader of the Fianna Fáil Party, Deputy Jack Lynch, in a speech at the Cork Publicity Club, expressed reservations on the open broadcasting proposals and spoke in favour of a second national television service. Senator Lenihan, this afternoon, claimed to be speaking on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party when saying that they would oppose the concept of a channel from outside being rebroadcast as proposed in section 6 of this Bill.

The next step was the meeting in Oxford, at which I was present, of the British and Irish Association where the Minister delivered a speech on culture and communication. As I recall that speech, he suggested that the problem of securing an agreement on open broadcasting and rebroadcasting the BBC in Ireland was only a matter of international courtesy and that the matter was under active discussion. The Minister confirmed this in the Dáil on the 18th July, 1974, where he agreed that the omission of any reference to a second RTE channel had been deliberate and that that was not a proposal which found favour with him.

It is important to keep clear another and subsidiary area which gives rise to a great deal of public confusion, that is, the question of cable television and the pressure for cable television in the single-channel areas. The Minister has not made it as clear as he might to the people living in the single-channel area what exactly is possible and what exactly one is talking about when one speaks of a choice of channel. I come from Mayo and I spend a good deal of time down there. I was down there last weekend. The general confusion of the people about what sort of choice they can get as people living in a single-channel area is very disheartening, because it shows that no conscious effort has been made at Government level to explain the various issues. This is a great pity because it is giving rise to expectations which are not going to be satisfied and it is creating conflicting desires which are being identified as an aspiration to watch BBC 1 because "that is what the people want". I would not be at all sure that this is the case. The majority of the people in the single-channel area, unclear of what the choice they could have would be, either have not been asked or were not able to make up their minds on the question and, consequently there is a playing-up of an apparent desire to get what the people in the multi-channel viewing area get.

Senator Markey seemed to be under the mistaken impression that the people in the single-channel area could be put in the same position as he was in in the multi-channel viewing area. It should be made as clear as possible that this is not the case; that the accident of geographical proximity, of being able to get the air waves from the British broadcasting services, will only extend to the part of Ireland which is already receiving these air waves; that it cannot be extended in a blanket way to the rest of the country, because to do so would contravene international agreements, would contravene copyright, would be opposed by the unions concerned and is not in fact possible.

The Minister should make it very clear to the people in single-channel areas that the only technical and legal possibility for them is a second channel within the limits of the resources. At the moment I understand that there could be four channels but that two of these would be on a frequency which is very rarely used because of the expense involved and that such a commitment would be out of the question for a country the size of Ireland. There is only one extra channel available and the rails for this are already authorised. The question is: what train will run on this track? What train will run on the second channel? The Minister should make it clear that this position is not affected by the separate question of cable television; that you cannot be in breach of international agreements and in breach of copyright by extending artificially by microwaves — I am not quite sure of the technical details of this — what does not come naturally through the air waves to the areas. The same problem arises so that you cannot boost to the single-channel areas through cable television the multi-channel viewing which certain parts of this country get because of geographical proximity.

I should like to turn to the precise provisions of section 6 of the Bill. The first point I should like to make is really a drafting point which was referred to by the Minister in his introductory speech. As the section reads, it relates to programmes; whereas it is my understanding that the Minister intends that it relates to programme services, and presumably there will be an amendment to that effect if section 6 is still here when we meet again. Assuming it is programme services that are meant here, the provision would be that the Minister may after consultation with the Authority direct the Authority to rebroadcast programme services broadcast from any source other than the Authority and specified in the direction and that there is a duty on the Authority to comply with the direction. We have the definition of what is meant by "rebroadcast" in section 1, that is, that rebroadcast means a simultaneous broadcast by the Authority of a broadcast of another broadcasting organisation. Other Senators have pointed to the fact that rebroadcasting of a programming service in this way is outside the controls in this Bill and, in particular in section 3 of this Bill, and also outside the scope of the broadcasting complaints commission.

I would put very seriously to the Minister at this stage the argument that section 6 as drafted contravenes the requirement of Article 40, section 6, of the Constitution, which provides that the State must operate control in relation to the public media. Senator Alexis FitzGerald referred very briefly to this. I had already examined the provision and I am convinced on looking at the wording and on looking at the very specific nature of the obligation placed on the Government, that it does not authorise opening up our air waves to a programme service outside our control, outside any of the mechanisms which are built-in in relation to our national broadcasting service. Article 40, section 6, subsection (1) provides that:

The State guarantees liberty for the exercise of the following rights subject to public order and morality:— i. the right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions.

The education of public opinion being, however, a matter of such grave import to the common good, the State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the press, the cinema, while preserving their rightful liberty of expression, including criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State.

Because the Constitution was drafted in 1937 there is reference to "radio", but you do not have the specific word "television". However you do have the "organs of public opinion".

The words "such as" precede the word "radio".

Yes. You have the clear intent that this will include radio, television and so on, I do not see how the Minister can get around the mandatory part of that section: that the State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State. Section 6 abdicates all control of that nature. It opens the air waves to the rebroadcasting of programmes outside the country. The foreign broadcasting service, concerned, be it the BBC, UTV or whatever, has no duty of any sort to uphold the authority of this State. On the contrary, they may very well not wish to uphold the authority of this State. Therefore this is a serious and considerable problem and I should like to ask the Minister at this stage whether he has sought a legal opinion on this point and what the opinion might have been if it had been sought?

Apart from the constitutional issue, there is the fundamental question of the desirability of rebroadcasting a programme service from outside the country as the second channel to viewers in the present single-channel area. Here we come up against a key issue, the question of competition between the BBC or UTV channel and the national broadcasting service. It is part of the theory and principle of competition, that competition heightens and improves standards, cuts out wastage, forces a person to pull up his socks and be better.

That could certainly be argued to be true in marketing areas, and many of the controls in the European Community in relation to competition are to ensure that there is competition, because this brings advantages. But in the area of television — and perhaps uniquely in the area of television — competition is competition downwards. It is not competition which results in an improved service. It is competition for viewers. Therefore it is a downward spiral. It means that the programmes have to compete directly for a larger audience. Therefore they have to compete by having mass entertainment programmes. Not only do they compete in a general sense for the audience, and therefore necessarily, have to put the emphasis on mass entertainment, but they compete directly for the hour in which the audience will be viewing. Therefore, instead of having a genuine choice of channel, there is the same sort of programme, maybe a current affairs programme at 9 o'clock on both channels, there is then a sports programme, then light entertainment. There is a direct competition for viewers and, rather than having a choice in the real sense of complementary viewing in the present single-channel area, what the people in those areas would have is only the choice between a current affairs programme on RTE or viewing a current affairs programme on the second channel.

I should like to emphasise this point: unlike in other areas, competition is not good in that sense. In television it is a competition downwards for a mass viewing audience. The most striking example of this was when Independent Television competed with BBC. There was only one BBC television channel at that time, but in a very short time ITV had taken 80 per cent of the viewers from the BBC. The reasons for this was that the BBC had a statutory obligation, or rather a charter obligation, to provide a national service and they could not compete sufficiently with the impetus towards the mass entertainment of ITV. Therefore, ITV were able to draw viewers away by providing light entertainment, sport and so on. BBC, in the end, were able to argue a case for being allowed a second channel where they could have cultural programmes, minority programmes, programmes where they would not be competing directly for viewers, so that BBC 1 could become more directly competitive with ITV. The BBC have drawn back substantially that audience and hold it now at roughly 50-50 with ITV. But, as a result, BBC 1 has become very like ITV in the way it projects itself in its emphasis on light entertainment, sport and so on.

Let us examine the likely scenario of the two channels in Ireland in the single-channel area: If we take it that BBC 1 would be the service on the second channel, let us compare their audience appeal. There would be RTE, the national broadcasting service, with the specific duties they have under the Act at present, and under this Bill which we are considering, to promote the national culture in its full sense, to be impartial, to uphold the democratic principle in the Constitution and so on. There is the fact that RTE are dependent on advertisements for part of their revenue and that some of their programmes are in colour while others are not. That is one horse.

The other horse, BBC 1, is entirely in colour, has vastly greater resources than RTE, has no break for advertisements and provides general entertainment programmes. Who, I would ask very seriously, will spend most of his time watching the RTE programmes, and who will transfer in a very substantial way to watching BBC? What will be the effect on RTE? RTE are already competing in the multi-channel viewing area with the channels which, by accident of geographical proximity, can come across the air waves and are received by the people living in those areas.

If, as a matter of policy rather than of geographical proximity, we extend one of those programmes with the vastly greater resources and so on, we will, if not entirely kill RTE, certainly reduce RTE to a tiny minority viewing programme. Can the Minister give an undertaking that the Minister for Finance will ensure that RTE are all right so far as finances are concerned and that a standard of programmes will be maintained? I think what the Minister is talking about is gradually edging RTE into providing minority viewing programmes, programmes in the Irish language, programmes which reflect one aspect of our culture, certain current affairs programmes with a particular Irish interest. But if RTE hold 20 per cent of the audience in those single-channel areas, they will be doing reasonably well in the light of experience elsewhere.

It would seem to me to be a tragedy beyond belief that our national service would be reduced to being a minority television service, not viewed by the vast majority of our citizens and subsidised heavily by the State because it was not able to draw advertising revenue. Let us make no mistake about that. There is absolutely no question of getting premium rates, of getting proper advertising revenue if RTE do not hold their audience. Therefore this is a very critical matter indeed, a matter of a most fundamental principle.

The points, then, are that competition in the sense in which I have discussed it relating to television channels inevitably means competition downwards and that is not good. What we want to do is to provide choice of channel, to provide real complementary channels for the people living in the single-channel areas. This has not been put across to the people living in those areas. They have not really understood the choice which could be available to them.

If the other two proposals are considered, first, that there be a second RTE channel, that, in itself, means that there will be a greater choice because RTE will have two channels on which to put out programmes. I understand there is no problem regarding material to broadcast but that there is a problem of trying to balance the programmes so as to provide the proper spectrum of programmes. This is particularly constrained on a single-channel service. If there is a choice of channel, a real choice in the sense of a complementary choice being given, there could be a current affairs or light entertainment programme on one channel and a series of, hopefully, not dull programmes on the second channel. That is real choice. It is real choice in the sense of being deliberately complementary.

One has to put paid to the inference that RTE want control in the sense of censorship of the second channel. There is a resentment, and I have seen it in the single-channel area, as to why the second channel should be subject to the control of RTE. They do not seem to be aware of the alternative: to have the second channel under the control of London. RTE are to some extent a bureaucracy but so are the BBC. You cannot have a broadcasting service without editorial responsibility that controls in that sense.

The third choice is not to have two RTE channels whereby RTE could alternate their programmes but to have the compromise proposal put forward by the RTE Authority, that is, co-operative viewing — in other words, that the cream of programmes broadcast on other services be broadcast on the second channel so that viewers in the second-channel area would see these programmes which are available in the multi-channel area and would also see other programmes that are not available at all in this country — for example, the excellent programmes produced by provincial broadcasting services in Britain or programmes from European services. To some extent an attempt is made to provide this sort of input into RTE at the moment. It could obviously be done on a much greater scale if there was a specific channel for that purpose. Then the choice would be that channel and RTE.

Having examined the constitutional problem, which I believe is posed in relation to section 6, and having looked at the dramatically adverse consequences for our own national broadcasting service of opening the second channel to a broadcasting service outside the country, to BBC 1 or to UTV, we have to go a little deeper than that. We have to understand the impact which the little box in the sittingroom makes on people. It effects their attitudes, it conditions them, it is their source of information. Are we prepared as a matter of policy to do what no other country in the world is prepared to do and what many countries spend a lot of their time protecting themselves from: to open our airwaves, without control to a broadcasting service outside this country?

The danger of raising this question is that one can be accused of being in favour of censoring what people see. I do not accept that that is at issue. We could, as a country, learn for example, from Austria's policy of protecting herself from the airwaves from German television. There are provisions preventing the extension of cable television carrying German television programmes beyond a certain distance and, by coincidence, that distance does not include the capital city of Vienna. Austria is conscious of the necessity to develop as a community, the necessity to have its own broadcasting service and to protect itself from the possible intrusion on its airwaves of a bigger and more powerful neighbour using the same language.

In this country we are particularly vulnerable. We are a small country which has the same common language as our neighbour, a small country which has a very close and not always happy historical relationship with that neighbour. It must appear a very strange policy decision for people outside this country. I would like to have had an opportunity of hearing the views of some people at the international level who are experts in television about a policy choice by this country, whereby we would open our airwaves, as a matter of policy rather than geographical proximity, to a foreign television service and allow that service to broadcast in this country without control.

I know that at the international level this is a very key issue. At the moment, in particular, because it is envisaged that in a short while, perhaps as soon as ten years' time, it will be technically possible, through satellite, to receive the services of very many countries, perhaps of all the countries of the world. Yet the whole discussion at international level is that this would not be desirable, in the sense of just opening the airwaves to broadcasting by various countries across other countries without regard for the social content, without regard for the necessity of small countries to retain their identity, to retain their national characteristics, to resist the pressure of larger countries with greater technology and with greater resources. If one were to probe a bit more deeply into the political power of the whole instrument of communication — and television is the most immediate, most devastating form of communication — the political power that this gives the service that has the power to project programmes directly into a country is shattering to contemplate when one realises that we are about to make a policy decision to hand over that power without control to a country with which we have not always had very happy relationships.

I do not think I have to make any disclaimers in this House. I have never had any strong or any substantial anti-British feelings. I am aware of the vulnerable position this country is in in every sense and in particular in carving its own identity and standing up as a civilised country with a particular image of itself, with a particular wealth of cultural strands to project. To make such a policy decision at this time would be an act of political madness.

The Minister is asking a lot of the Seanad and of the Dáil in putting this section into the Bill. It appears from his speech in introducing the Bill and from comments made that nothing has been finalised yet. The Minister himself does not know what train will run on these tracks. I would submit that the Seanad should not authorise a general position of this sort without knowing precisely what will be the programme service which will be rebroadcast. I say this because my very real fears about the consequences of this section are somewhat allayed by my own belief from the inquiries I have made that in any case this project for rebroadcasting BBC is just not on. It is not on from the point of view of the legal problems involved and also of the trade union problems involved. It is my understanding that it will be an impossible negotiation to clear all the copyright of the artists whose material was purchased by BBC for its own broadcasts. It has to be understood that when an artist sells his work to the BBC, authorises performance of the particular work, be it music, drama or script, he authorises it only for the defined territory over which that service has legal authority to broadcast. He does not authorise rebroadcasting over a further territory consequent on a bilateral arrangement between those two countries.

Therefore, in order to get the legal go-ahead for this idea it would require the most extensive negotiation of individual copyrights and the agreement of the unions involved — in Britain and here. It is evident from those who have voiced the grave fears of the unions here that they anticipate that the result of such a decision would be disastrous for the national broadcasting service, would lead to redundancies, and to people in the national broadcasting service being out of a job. The proposal in section 6 is too vague for this House to consider seriously and decide on. Furthermore, the legal copyright problems are such that it is most unlikely that agreement will be reached. Obviously, the Minister is in a better position than I to say at what stage the negotiations are at and I would welcome some details from him when replying. I propose now to leave the question of rebroadcasting, having given the undertaking that I intend to submit an amendment which would delete sections 6 and 12. There would also be the consequential deletion of the definition of "rebroadcast" in section 1 of the Bill.

Section 2 reinforces the independence and security of tenure of the Broadcasting Authority. I welcome this provision. I had difficulty in understanding the tortuous reasoning of the Fianna Fáil Senators who have contributed. They feel that this does not go far enough or alternatively that it goes too far, but they do not appear to welcome it for what I believe it is, the involvement of Parliament in the control of the Authority, and the preventing of the abrupt dismissal of an authority which displeases a Government at a particular time. I accept that it is more difficult to get rid of a member or of all members of the Authority, if motions have to be tabled before both Houses. This is highly desirable. If there is a serious transgression, a serious breach of the code of behaviour that one would expect of a member or members of the Authority, I have no doubt that resolutions could and would be passed by both Houses for their removal.

I should like to deal with another of the key issues in this Bill, the question of impartiality, which has been discussed at some length by other Senators and which is governed by section 3. I should like to refer to the remark I made at the end of the discussion down the Minister's shady green lane on the question of censorship and the relationship between government and the broadcasting authority. The relationship I should like to see maintained is not reflected in this Bill. The Minister is still claiming too much and too substantial power of interference. The first major improvement would be if instead of a separate section 16, which is to be substituted for section 31 of the present Act, there could be a further subsection of section 3 so that whatever power the Minister claims in that regard is related to the duty of impartiality placed on the Authority, is subsidiary to that, is explained in terms of that, that his power is related to the provisions of section 3, is not a separate, unrelated or too great a power of potential interference — of potential abuse — with the Authority which has the responsibility in this matter. Subsection (1A) of section 3 states:

The Authority is hereby prohibited from including in any of its broadcasts or in any matter referred to in paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of this section anything which may reasonably be regarded as being likely to promote, or incite to, crime or to lead to disorder.

Like other Senators who have spoken and in particular Senator Horgan, I take issue with the vagueness and the difficulty in the word "disorder" in its bald sense. We live in a time of political activism, of farmers sitting down in Merrion Square, of students occupying student buildings, which is all, in layman's terminology, "disorder". If a television programme about such a "disorder", is likely to lead to other people being affected, other farmers, other students, or citizens sitting on the street, or participating, then the filming of that disorder would be likely to lead to further disorder. This could have an incredible effect on the coverage of current affairs, of political matters, of what constitutes news. It could damage seriously the credibility of the Authority. It is particularly striking to note that if the rebroadcasting provision is acceptable the programme service broadcasting from outside the country would not have to meet the same requirements. We could have a top BBC news team filming some disorder here, a particularly harrowing strike — we may anticipate at a time of high unemployment there could be a lot of social unrest and social tension in our society — and we could have the absurd position where that outside broadcasting service could portray the disorder but our Authority, because of the very broad phrasing here, would feel that because it potentially might lead to disorder they were prohibited from broadcasting it!

It would be more meaningful and would place the clear responsibility where it properly lies, on the Authority, if the phrase "in the opinion of the Authority" was inserted so that the provision would read:

The Authority is hereby prohibited from including in any of its broadcasts or in any matter referred to in paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of this section anything which, in the opinion of the Authority, may be reasonably regarded as being likely to promote, or incite to, crime.

I would leave out the wording "or lead to disorder".

The Senator already drew attention to the fact that there is a constitutional obligation on the Minister.

The State is discharging its constitutional obligation by providing, in the Bill governing the television Authority, that the Authority may not broadcast anything which in its opinion is likely to lead to crime. This is where the appropriate role of the Minister comes in.

I think that the Minister can claim that in the last resort, when there is a matter of national security, that the Government have the ultimate responsibility. Therefore, the Government must be in a position to make their view known in that area. The appropriate mechanism for that is that, as a further subsection immediately after (1A), the Minister can issue clarifying directives to the authority, clarifying a matter which could lead to crime. I would confine the prohibition here to one which would lead to crime. Disorder — I am sure Senator O'Higgins would agree — of a violent or disruptive sense is a crime. It is either riot, rout, affray or unlawful assembly.

I am not trying to be unhelpful. It is merely that the Senator called attention to Article 40 of the Constitution which deals with undermining public authority and there seems to be an obligation in relation to the organs of public opinion, such as TV, that there should be provision which would enable the Government to ensure that public order would not be undermined. It is a general remark in relation to this section.

I am trying to make the point that this can be done through the provisions relating to the Authority and then the ultimate power of the Minister to issue clarifying directives. I fully accept the obligation on the Government under Article 40, which states:

——the State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion——

This includes television.

——while preserving their rightful liberty of expression, including criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State.

What we are talking about in sections 3 and 16 is the method of going about the discharge of that constitutional obligation. I submit that the proper balance can best be maintained if it is clear that the responsibility is on the authority, as established by the Government, to discharge its statutory obligations as written into the present Act, or into this Bill. The nature of the particular obligation here is that the Authority is prohibited from including in any of its broadcasts:

——anything which in the opinion of the Authority may reasonably be regarded as likely to promote or incite to crime.

Obviously crime in that sense includes the more serious forms of public disorder which amount to unlawful assembly, riot, rout or affray. It also includes the areas of public immorality, obscenity, blasphemy and so on, which are all crimes under our law. The role of the Government, as the ultimate organ responsible for discharging the constitutional obligation, is one of being in a position to issue clarifying directives related to the discharge of the statutory obligations on the Authority under section 3. It is not a separate power to issue directives under the old section 31 formula; it is a related and subsidiary power to issue a clarifying directive to the Authority, either on the initiative of the Minister or on the request of the Authority in a particular case. It is best to pursue this debate in more detail on Committee Stage when amendments are put forward on the issue.

I should like to deal with sections (1C) of section 3 which provides that:

(1C) The Authority is hereby prohibited from unreasonably intruding on the privacy of any individual.

Most Senators welcome this provision. I join with them in saying that it is a welcome proposal but I do not agree with the Minister that it merely gives statutory recognition to a problem. That was how the Minister described it. In fact, it goes much further. I wonder if the Minister considered this aspect and had been advised on it because, as that section reads, it appears to create a statutory duty on the part of the Authority. It appears that an individual who has been affected by a breach of that statutory duty and claims that there has been an unreasonable intrusion in his privacy has a right of action in the courts for damages — a right of action for breach of statutory duty which is framed so as to give him a personal right and for which he can take an action and claim damages. I can see no danger in that provision. I welcome its introduction into the Bill, but since the Minister did not elaborate on it as creating a statutory duty with the consequent legal results of giving an individual right of action in the courts I would welcome his observations on this point.

I should like to return to a consideration of the broadcasting complaints commission which it is proposed to establish under section 4.

The Minister for Labour has arrived. Would the House agree to take the Motion on Redundancy Contributions now?

Debate adjourned.