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Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 13 Dec 1979

Vol. 93 No. 6

Broadcasting Authority (Amendment) Bill, 1979: Second and Subsequent Stages.

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

The main purpose of this Bill is to provide for an increase of £10 million in the limit on repayable advances that the Minister for Finance may make to RTE for capital purposes. The Bill also contains two other amendments to the Broadcasting Authority Acts, 1960 to 1976 to which I will refer later.

Section 23 of the Broadcasting Authority Act, 1960 provides that the Minister for Finance may make advances from the Central Fund on the recommendation of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs to the RTE Authority for capital purposes. The 1960 Act set a limit of £2 million on the aggregate amount of advance that could be made to RTE. This limit was increased by three subsequent Acts and the present limit of £15 million was fixed by section 9 of the Broadcasting Authority (Amendment) Act, 1976. Under section 2 of this Bill the limit is being increased to £25 million.

The television service was set up with funds advanced by the Exchequer although it was envisaged at the outset that the new service should not give rise to any ultimate charge on the Exchequer and that RTE would be expected to repay any capital borrowed. During the sixties RTE met their capital needs almost entirely from internal sources. From the early seventies on, however, the growth in advertising revenue and in the number of television sets slowed down and inflation reduced the value of reserves and depreciation provisions as a source of funds. RTE had, therefore, to rely to a greater extent on Exchequer advances to finance capital expenditure.

Between 1975 and 1978, RTE's capital expenditure totalled £14.4 million. £10.4 million of this amount was advanced from the Central Fund. At the end of 1978 all but £631,000 of the £15 million provided for under the 1976 Act had been advanced and this was advanced earlier this year. The Public Capital Programme for 1979 made a provision of £2.45 million for capital advances for RTE but the remaining £1,819,000 cannot be paid over until this Bill is enacted.

RTE envisage spending £23.5 million over the next four to five years on capital works. The major part of this expenditure, about £14.9 million, will be on building and equipping additional television studios for RTE 2 and renewing various production facilities in the existing studios. RTE envisage that their programme for the improvement of television and radio reception will cost about £4 million, a large part of which will be incurred on extending RTE 2 to those parts of the country where a satisfactory service is not yet available. RTE also hope to improve their regional inputs into the national services, to provide new television centres at Cork and Galway, to extend the Radio na Gaeltachta studios in Kerry and Donegal and to develop radio production facilities and various other support services at a cost of about £4.6 million.

The increase in the limit on Exchequer advances provided for in this Bill does not imply any approval of RTE's plans tor capital expenditure for the years up to 1983. Each year's expenditure and advances will be subject to examination annually in the context of the Public Capital Programme and in the light of RTE's financial performance each year.

As I mentioned at the outset, this Bill also proposes to make two other amendments to the Broadcasting Authority Acts. The first of these, provided for in section 3, is intended to put beyond doubt the position of the Authority with regard to the establishment and maintenance of local broadcasting services. It had been considered that section 16 of the 1960 Act conferred power on RTE to establish purely local radio services. However, the Attorney General recently had some doubts as to whether the section as it stands gives RTE such power and he advised that it would be prudent to remove any doubt on the matter so as to clarify RTE's position in regard to the maintenance of existing local services. The provision is purely enabling and does not place any duty on the Authority to provide local broadcasting services. This provision is quite separate from the proposal, announced by the former Taoiseach in March last, to establish an Independent Local Radio Authority under which private interests could become involved in local radio. The Government will be introducing a new detailed Bill shortly to provide for the setting up of that new Authority.

Section 4 of the Bill provides that any officer or servant of RTE shall stand seconded from employment by the Authority if nominated for election to the Dáil or Seanad or nominated to the Seanad directly. In recent years a provision on these lines has been included in legislation setting up new State-sponsored bodies and the opportunity is, therefore, being taken to bring the legislation dealing with RTE up to date in this respect. I recommend the Bill to the House.

Before I deal with the Minister's speech, I should like to take this opportunity to congratulate him on his appointment and welcome him to the House on this, his first visit. It is his first legislative journey and I am glad to see it beginning in this House. I hope that his term of office will be successful and satisfying for him.

This Bill is quite limited in what it wants to do. It is really to provide more capital for RTE and, incidentally, to clear up a legal doubt concerning the drafting in an earlier Act. The purpose may be quite simple but there is a considerable amount of money involved. I am disappointed that the request from the Government to this House for sanction for this considerable amount of money does not spell out in some detail the Government's views on how moneys allocated up to now have been spent, the Government's views on the plans that RTE have undoubtedly put up to them for the spending of the money now being sanctioned. This debate takes place in a vacuum without that information. We are being asked to vote sanction for an increase in capital of an extra £10 million without being told how it is going to be spent other than that it is being spent on RTE's capital programme. We are entitled to know what the details of this capital programme are. It is hardly good enough just to tell us that this money is for RTE, that RTE's plans will be examined in the Department of Finance and in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and that if they are satisfied there that the plans are well founded and adequate the money will be released but if there is any doubt about it the money will not be released. This is taxpayers' money and the ultimate responsibility for spending taxpayers' money and for voting taxpayers' money lies with the two Houses of the Oireachtas and we are entitled to a considerable amount of information on Bills of this nature.

In Bills of this kind which seek to increase the capital allocations for various State bodies, the practice has grown up of merely asking for the money and that has been the end of it. To some extent the position has been remedied by the constitution of the Joint Committee on State-Sponsored Bodies where there is an opportunity to examine these bodies in detail and to go into their capital plans. In addition to that, the Houses of the Oireachtas should have some information so that they, as the people responsible to the taxpayer, could assess how well and efficiently their money is being spent, how well it is being spent to realise policy objectives. We should also be given an indication of what those policy objectives are because if they were objectionable or did not meet with our approval we are entitled to express objection to and disapproval of them.

Having said that, however, I do not blame the Minister who has had to come in here at short notice when this debate is half way through, when the Bill has gone through the other House. I would commend respectfully to him that in any future Bills of this nature he might take heed of what I am saying as to the amount of information that should be available to Members of the Oireachtas where they are being asked to vote approval for the spending of very large sums of money.

We do not know from the Minister's speech where exactly this money is being spent as between RTE1 and RTE2. We are told that RTE envisage expending £23.5 million over the next four to five years on capital works and that £14.9 million of this will be on building and equipping additional television studios for RTE 2 and renewing various production facilities in the existing studios. This immediately raises the question of justifying that amount of money for RTE 2. One of the justifications we would want to know about is how are RTE doing as a broadcasting service? What sort of a viewing public have they achieved for themselves? I suspect, from the odd time I can watch RTE, that their viewing public must be comparatively limited. I base that suspicion on the few advertisements I see being broadcast on RTE. If RTE had a big audience, we would have lots of advertising on it. The proof that RTE are not commanding an audience is the lack of advertising. I do not regret the lack of advertising. It is a nuisance to any viewer to have to sit through advertisements and wait for programmes to resume, but their absence from RTE programmes indicates to me that RTE have not commanded an audience of sufficient size to attract the hard money men in the advertising agencies.

I would be interested to know from the Minister if he has any facts with regard to the present viewing audience. Has it fallen short of target? Is there any worry on the part of the Authority or the administrative people in RTE about this, or are any steps being taken to correct it? Can it be corrected? That again raises the question: if it cannot be corrected, what is the point in our spending £14.9 million, or will that £14.9 million enable steps to be taken to correct this trend? These are pertinent questions. I have a little suspicion that, at this stage, RTE 2 are an established empire, and that those in charge of that empire would be very loath to see their empire diminish. In the nature of bureaucracy, whether it be State or semi-State, once an empire is established, there is an in-built impetus to expand the empire. I would be apprehensive that that syndrome is now taking effect in Montrose.

The Bill before the House is somewhat bitty. This whole question of broadcasting needs to be reviewed in fairly fundamental terms. We need a major debate on it. This Bill just touches on one small aspect of broadcasting. It would have been preferable—and I appreciate the financial urgency of providing money for this year, because if there are works in operation they cannot be allowed to stop; and the Government have been in office now for two-and-a-half years—if we had a comprehensive Bill dealing with a whole range of matters connected with broadcasting.

On the vexed question of pirate radio stations, their continued existence is an affront to the concept of the rule of law. If they are illegal they should have been put out of business. If the law was not adequate to put them out of business, the law should have been strengthened to put them out of business. They are now at the stage where they are being condoned. Indeed, I have taken advantage of them myself electorally, with some feeling of guilt. Apparently they were being condoned by the Minister, because they were not being attacked. Maybe he has plans for dealing with them in the future, but they have been left for too long as an illegal operation. This is bad for the concept of the rule of law.

Leaving them there and condoning them is to some extent permitting a small thin end of a wedge for the day when the independent Authority referred to by the Minister will be set up. Possibly it would be difficult to refuse licences to these people who have been breaking the law. Undoubtedly they would make the plea: "We have been here for so long; we have been providing a service for so long with the confidence of consumers and business people in the area. We have people employed". It could be difficult enough to resist a plea for a franchise with those arguments supporting that plea. They should not have been tolerated up to now and, even at this late stage, we should have an assurance from the Minister that he will enforce the law so far as possible. I cannot believe that it is so totally ineffective as to be a failure in dealing with these pirate radio stations.

I do not know if it is in order for me to speak on the value we are getting for the money we are voting, but it would seem to me to follow logically from what we are doing. If we start talking as consumers, as viewers, we could have a critical discussion here on all the activities of RTE. Everyone has his bête noire in that organisation and some of their programmes and standards. Mine essentially is to do with violence on television. That television violence is damaging has been proved beyond dispute. It has been proved to the satisfaction of social scientists. If our national broadcasting Authority ignore that evidence and permit violence to be broadcast they are doing a grave disservice to the country and in particular to the younger generations.

Indeed, in their own house magazine, a copy of which came to each Senator recently, there was an article by an American researcher in the area of the influence of television. She states that, to her satisfaction, and as a result of her researches—and they appear to be comprehensive and scientific—the influence of television is immense, and particularly its influence for ill where it chooses to broadcast violence, or soft porn, or such matters as that. The RTE Authority have a very grave responsibility to ensure that the problems of modern society are not compounded by material fed into the livingrooms of the homes of this nation.

I was distressed also in regard to broadcasting violence to see a trailer of a programme they are making about James Larkin from the book Strumpet City. The trailer was a scene which replayed the confrontation between the police and the striking workers in O'Connell Street. Quite frankly, I was horrified at the amount of violence displayed in that trailer. I am sure it was a violent confrontation, but surely it is not necessary to indicate dramatically to the viewer that violence took place by showing explicit scenes of the most brutal violence; of policemen kicking the strikers on the head and other acts of similar brutality which were brutalising and quite horrifying.

Surely it is not beyond the professional wit of the producer to suggest violence without displaying it explicitly on the screen. There is a carelessness about this dangerous subject on the part of those in charge of broadcasting, not only in this country but all over the world. This is incomprehensible to me and indefensible, when there is scientific evidence that this portrayal of violence is harmful and induces violence. It brutalises people and makes them more susceptible to being violent and makes them more casual towards violence. It tends to build up an atmosphere in which violence can flourish and become instead of the exception not the norm but certainly not a rarity. There is a grave responsibility on those in charge of this terribly powerful medium to ensure that only the highest standards are permitted in what is broadcast over our airwaves.

Talking of higher standards, it annoys me to see so much comedy that relies for its impact on the double entendre, or the blue joke. The programme “Are You Being Served?” is an offence and it should be taken off the airwaves. I am getting into the area which I feared of criticising individual programmes. Nevertheless, if high standards are to be sought—and it is unthinkable that standards other than high standards should be sought—there is a duty on those in charge of our broadcasting to ensure that our medium does not have an excessive amount of violence. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that no violence should be portrayed and the medium should not broadcast as a matter of routine programmes whose whole basis is the double entendre or the blue joke. They are not high standards. That is a form of decadence. It would be a disgrace if the national airwaves should be used for broadcasting material that is specifically or vaguely, or by implication decadent. I will not go any further because it is a subject on which we could all wax eloquently and indignantly from our own subjective point of view for a long time. When we are being asked to vote a substantial amount of money for the expansion of RTE, we should pass some comment on what standards we expect from the national broadcasting Authority.

I do not know how strict the financial control of expenditure in RTE is. It would appear that they can no longer generate their own capital income because advertising income is static, and inflation is not static. This is what the Minister indicated in his speech. He did not go into it in any depth. It is a matter for regret that he did not, that we have not got some idea whether we will be asked forever more to provide the capital because RTE will never be able to generate their own capital internally. It would be a good financial discipline to have some sanctions which could be invoked to ensure that they would generate part of their capital internally. It is a semi-autonomous empire. There are two states within that empire to some extent competing with each other, and to some extent seeking to enhance their own status vis-a-vis their counterpart. This, in turn, may lead to certain financial carelessness, and consequent bad financial practices, wasteful practices. One result may be an inability to generate money internally for their own capital purposes.

As a casual listener it is difficult to forswear the temptation to comment on individual matters. It seems odd to me the number of times broadcasters are sent abroad to cover items which are comparatively insignificant in the national interest. The broadcast could be taken from a reporter abroad and the information needed by the Irish viewer could be given adequately that way. Maybe there is a trade union question here, a closed shop, or some such reason why this has to be, but there seems to be a tremendous amount of foreign travel.

Undoubtedly the Pope's visit to Turkey was important. We have a high regard for the Pope, but on the other hand his visit could have been reported adequately possibly without the necessity of sending somebody there to follow him around. That is an indication of what I mean. I wonder how much care there is in the spending of money internally within RTE. One could go on and on to the point of being a bore on matters such as that.

To conclude, I hope it will not be long before the Bill to establish an Independent Local Radio Authority will come before us. That will give us an opportunity to debate at some length broadcasting by television and by wireless. It will enable us to go into the philosophy of broadcasting and enable the Minister to give us an indication of his philosophy and what he would expect from RTE, to give us an indication of the policy guidelines being laid down so that we can see are they being met. I hope that will come fairly soon. We in this party have no objection to providing this extra money, although we do so with some reservations on the lines I have expressed.

I want to join with Senator Cooney in welcoming our new Minister to the Seanad. In television and radio broadcasting, and in the whole communications field, we would be less than honest if we did not admit that we need a new approach from year to year. It is of national importance to keep expanding our radio and television services. The new Minister, Deputy Reynolds, will certainly, add new vigour and a new emphasis to this important Ministry. From my knowledge of him and his approach to business, I have great confidence that we will see progress in the Department.

I welcome the Bill which deals with the advances we expect from our national broadcasting Authority. As a small country we have made tremendous progress. Not long ago when we introduced colour television many of our enemies thought we could not sustain or justify its introduction. It would be very interesting to read in the Official Reports of this House and the other House the statements made by our critics when colour television was introduced.

Great progress has been made by RTE. We are all very proud of that They have been a great credit to us. It is only proper that we should support them with sufficient funds to continue that good work. I have the highest hopes for great advances within RTE. It is becoming more and more expensive to put television and radio programmes on the air. It takes vast sums of money and a great deal of modern new equipment. We are providing substantial extra capital but we will have to make even greater capital advances to the Authority.

Radio 1 and Radio 2 are making a very big contribution. They compete very well with anything we can hear from Europe. I am privileged to come from an area where we have the best that Britain can put out freely available to us on radio and I am satisfied that RTE programmes are not second to anything we can pick up on our radios in the north-east of Donegal. Radio na Gaeltachta are doing a tremendous job also. I would urge the Minister to continue to provide extra money for Radio na Gaeltachta. Part of the purpose of setting up Radio na Gaeltachta initially was to help to promote the Irish language. They have done a tremendous job because some people who are not fluent Gaelic speakers listen to the news on Radio na Gaeltachta and pick up the language. That is very important. They are doing great work and I would certainly urge support for Radio na Gaeltachta, financial support, moral support, and every kind of support we can give them from the House.

I am a little surprised at Senator Cooney's implication that the Government are condoning pirate radios. He should read the statements made by his colleagues as reported in the Official Report. If he did, he would not make the statement he has made here. The Bill refers to the provisions in the 1960 Act and confers certain powers on RTE to establish local radio. I know the reference there to local radio does not apply to community radio. We are all looking forward to the enactment of the Bill which will provide for local radio and local involvement in local broadcasting. We will have an opportunity to speak when that Bill is introduced.

This Government have introduced legislation to control pirate radio broadcasting and I am satisfied that the new Bill will provide amply for local broadcasting. I welcome this Bill and the provisions in it. It is necessary to provide extra capital for RTE. That is being done and with the new capital and the new Minister I am very confident that RTE's strength will grow. We are all proud of the great work RTE are doing. I hope it will continue and I am fairly confident that it will.

Like other Senators I should like to begin by welcoming the Minister into the House today and to wish him well in his new post. I should also like to welcome this Bill on behalf of the Labour group although, like Senator Cooney, I think we are not furnished with very substantial information on which to assess the main purpose of the Bill. The Minister stated that the main purpose is to provide for an increase from £15 million to £25 million in the limit on repayable advances which the Minister for Finance may make to RTE for capital purposes. Unlike Senator Hussey, I managed to acquire a copy of the Dáil Official Report of the debate on this Bill and naturally I turned to the introductory speech by the then Minister of State, Deputy Fitzpatrick. I am impressed by the fact that the Minister left out the one paragraph in the speech in the other House that I had marked with a very big question mark. That is omitted from the speech here today and I should like to ask the Minister for some comment on it because it seemed to me as I read it to be a statement which requires considerable explanation and clarification. This is the paragraph in Volume 317, column 388 of the Dáil Official Report of 29 November 1979. The Minister had given more detail than he gave us here today about the amount of capital expenditure in the various years and he then continued, and this is the part I want to put on the record of this House:

RTE are paying interest on the Exchequer advances they have received for capital purposes, but so far they have not repaid any part of the principal. The question of requiring them to begin repaying the advances is at present under consideration.

I should be very grateful for some explanation from the Minister as to what is meant by that, assuming he has had adequate time to brief himself on the matter. What consideration is being given to the repayment of the capital, given the amounts we are now talking about, and this Bill to increase by a further £10 million the potential amount on which the Minister said RTE are paying interest? What kind of steps will be taken? What potential pressures will be put on the RTE Authority?

This is an extremely important point because the relationship between any broadcasting authority and the government of the day is necessarily a very important and sensitive relationship. This House is entitled to be very clear indeed on the question of whether there will be requirements for repayment of the capital amount, where RTE will find this money, what kind of discipline or rigour will they be under. What is the significance of that paragraph in the opening speech in the Dáil which, as I say, the Minister has omitted from his speech introducing the Bill here today? I should be grateful if he would deal with this fully in his reply to the House.

It is important that RTE should have the capacity to develop their capital development programme. Like other Senators, I should like to know more concrete details of that programme. I appreciate, as the Minister says, that the provision of a new ceiling on the amount that may be advanced does not mean a blank cheque has been given, or does not mean that the proposals RTE have in mind are necessarily approved, that they will be approved from year to year as specific proposals are made. On looking at the information the Minister has supplied us with, I do not find it very enlightening. He says RTE envisage spending £23.5 million over the next four to five years on capital works and that the major part of this, about £14.9 million expenditure, will be on building and equipping additional television studios for RTE 2 and renewing various production facilities in the existing studios.

It would be useful to have some indication of whether these additional television studios for RTE 2 are to be contained in the city of Dublin, or whether they will have additional studios elsewhere, or what is intended. There is then a reference to the fact that RTE envisage that their programme for the improvement of television and radio reception will cost about £4 million and a large part of this will be incurred by extending RTE 2 to those parts of the country where a satisfactory service is not yet available. I would be interested if the Minister could inform us of the parts of the country where RTE 2 is still not available on a satisfactory basis. I know some of these myself, and I am sure other Senators know them also, but it would be useful to know just how comprehensive the RTE 2 service is now, and where the major problems are.

Also I note that in this reference to proposed and envisaged capital expenditure of £23.5 million, there is nothing I can find specifically relating to the provision of an extension of a local broadcasting service, which is the other important element in this Bill to-day. It is not one that the Minister dwells on for any length. It does not really develop in his speech, perhaps because the amendment we are making is to some extent a technical and a clarifying amendment of the 1960 Act. The Labour Party have issued very strong statements on this. We believe that the capacity and the function of RTE to provide local broadcasting services is extremely important. It is a very important feature of the national broadcasting Authority. I should like to have some itemising of the extent to which either capital expenditure or indeed the proposed expenditure by RTE over the next few years will be devoted to the development of local broadcasting services. We are amending a section of an Act of 1960. It appears that it is now the opinion of the Attorney General that it is necessary to do this because section 16 of the 1960 Act did not make it absolutely clear that RTE had the legal authority and capacity to maintain a local broadcasting service. That means that 19 years have passed since apparently most people thought the RTE Authority had the capacity to do this. I wonder if the legislative clarification is obtained is there going to be a conscious and well-directed drive towards the maintenance and expansion of local broadcasting services? Could the Minister give us further information on that? This is particularly important in view of the proposal for the establishment of an independent radio authority.

A great deal is put into this word "independent". There is a tendency particularly among young people to believe that these independent local radio stations will be more independent in some way than they could ever expect from the National Broadcasting Authority. This is very much mistaken and naïve, because the primary purpose of the independent local radio stations will be to make a profit, to gain advertising revenue and, as the pirate radio stations do, to make money out of broadcasting. They will not have the kind of values and the kind of criteria which guide RTE, such as concern for minority interests, particular concern for balance and a much broader service than pure entertainment at maximum profit. We need a rapid expansion of RTE's involvement in the maintenance of local broadcasting services to counter the possibility of the so-called independent local radio stations being the only outlet locally for expression and being geared to the profit motive and to exploiting the interest, the mood and the needs of young people. Young people are very exploitable. They should at least have the choice of a genuine local community service which would have regard to the broader interests of the community and which would not be based primarily on the need to make a profit out of the enterprise and to cream off as much advertising revenue as possible.

We will have a much fuller opportunity to discuss this whole question if and when the Bill to establish an independent local radio authority comes before us. My purpose here this afternoon is to emphasise the need for RTE to be given strong support in developing their own local broadcasting service. It has taken 19 years to clarify the legislative point, and I would like to know whether now there can be a swift follow-through to create the reality of it.

A matter which has not yet been mentioned by other Senators is this question of the secondment of a person who is an officer or servant of the Authority and is nominated as a Member of the Seanad or for election to either House of the Oireachtas. Section 4 of the Bill provides that such person...

...shall stand seconded from employment by the Authority and shall not be paid by, or be entitled to receive from, the Authority any remuneration or allowance—

—for such time as he is nominated to the Seanad or is nominated and accepts the nomination or election to either House.

What precisely will be involved in the secondment of such a person? Would the person seconded have a right to go back to precisely the job that he had? Is that what is envisaged or would the person seconded from the Authority have a right in a general way to go back into employment in the Authority but find that his, or her job was now being held down by somebody else, that they were very much at risk and very much less secure than might be intended? As it is not too clear from the wording of the section, I would welcome clarification from the Minister on that.

It is not appropriate on a Bill of this sort to indulge in subjective speculation on the merits or demerits of the programmes put out on RTE 1 or RTE 2. My personal wish would be that we had more investigative journalism on our media. Ever since the money-lending programme focused more on the entertainment aspect than on the problem that was under investigation, that is the abuses related to money-lending activities at the time, there has been a steady decline in the capacity and willingness of RTE particularly in their television programmes, to perform an extremely important and useful informational and educational role through investigative journalism. We need much more probing examination and scrutiny in Irish life. If this could become again a strong feature of both RTE 1 and RTE 2 I certainly would welcome it. Other than that, I do not propose at this stage to comment on this Bill on the performance of RTE 1 and RTE 2. I would like to get more information from the Minister about the proposed capital development programme and in particular about the proposals for the establishement and maintenance of local services.

Is mian liom comhgháirdeas a dhéanamh leis an Aire nua. Tá súil agam go n-éireoidh go geal leis. Ba mhaith liom, ar an gcéad dul síos, a rá nach foláir dúinn go léir fáilte a chur roimh aon Bhille a chuireann tuilleadh airgid ar fáil má tá sé ag teastáil ón gcóras teilifíse agus radio. Ó thaobh Radio na Gaeltachta de, cé nach bhfuil mé sásta leis an méid atá á dhéanamh acu agus leis an gcur amach, tá mé sásta go bhfuil Radio na Gaeltachta riachtanach agus go bhfuil sé ag líonadh bearna atá ann ó thaobh ár gcultúir féin. D'iarrfainn ar an Aire gach cabhair a thabhairt dóibh feabhas a chur ar an gcur amach atá acu.

I regard our national broadcasting service as essential to the wellbeing of the community. Therefore, one is obliged to support any Bill which provides for additional capital. We need to keep on improving the content and service of both radio and television in-this country. That is not to say that I am entirely satisfied with the output and content of what we are doing, but if additional funds are needed then I would say to the Minister that he must provide them. There is a point to be made arising out of what the Minister said in his speech, that the original idea in the setting up of the service was that there should be no ultimate charge on the Exchequer. This is not realistic if our radio and television national service is to keep pace with the type of competition that they are dealing with on this island and also from immediately across the sea and right across the world. In that sense we in the Oireachtas and the Minister and his Department should have a better picture of what the long-term plans are and what they are likely to cost. It would be good, of course, to see RTE repaying the capital which has been provided in the past, but there does not seem to be much prospect of that because here we are talking about additional capital. Nevertheless, I support the Bill because I believe that the need is there. Since this is not a major Bill I do not want to go into too much detail on the kind of performance that we are getting but it is fair to say, as one who sees other systems working in different parts of Europe and elsewhere, that generally, with some reservations, our national service is providing a pretty good output both in content and quantity.

Very few of us are satisfied with the extraordinary number of imported films depicting and to a degree encouraging violence of different kinds. I do know that the Authority are not importing films of a worse kind, but it is a case of selecting the least harmful. I feel, looking at our television screen and listening to our news content, that in relation to imported American films particularly and to the type of headlines given to the news, occasionally, we could exercise a little more restraint. One of the principles of broadcasting is to excite, but in our community today we need to be a little more careful in the sort of things that we are presenting to the public every day.

On the question of radio, which is mentioned in the Bill, first of all what some Senators said about pirate radios is a reflection on ourselves. It is our own fault that we have not yet put through a Bill establishing local radio. There is a need which has been there for a long time. If there is to be criticism it is of ourselves in failing to cater for this public need for local radio. I deplore the freedom which apparently pirate radio stations have to go on broadcasting, but we ourselves are at fault in that we have not provided the alternative. I urge the Minister to try to get through the local radio legislation side by side with the Bill which is before the Dáil at present on the prevention of piracy. There has been a great need for local radio to encourage what one might describe as local identity and indeed the same thing is apparent in relation to local television. There were some experiments some years ago which appeared to be coming along very well but some difficulties which the Minister of the Coalition Government had brought that to an end. I urge the Minister, as he is newly arrived in his responsibility, to take another look at this situation. I saw experiments being carried out in County Dublin around the south side of the city in relation to local television which one could only describe as excellent.

On the question of the imported material I repeat what I said in relation to a debate some months ago on European culture. I urge the Minister to have the Broadcasting Authority here take up again with the European Community and with the EBU the question of providing a greater quantity of films produced in Europe. There is a problem of translation in this area, but both here and in the European Parliament I have urged that the Commission themselves give a little more thought to the need to counteract the tremendous influence of the very great output of films from the United States. Not that I do not welcome them but I feel that we here in Europe need to be competing and to be providing for our own people in the European Community a balancing up of the films which are produced in such great quantity in the United States and which are shown right throughout Europe, here and in Britain.

That is all I wish to say at this stage. Many of us would like to talk about the content of the Bill more deeply. I would like to wind up on one point which I think could be useful. We have every morning a radio programme called "It Says in the Papers". I find it quite good programme. It gives some very brief selections from Northern newspapers and it could give more. One could have what I would describe as carefully selected impartial extracts from the three major papers in circulation in the North at present. The Belfast Telegraph, The Newsletter and The Irish News. We need to increase the knowledge and understanding of the outlook that is portrayed in the northern part of the island. The more we can learn about them the better, and perhaps if we here through our own broadcasting system enouraged a little more of this, it might encourage the same thing on the part of both the BBC and UTV.

Like other Senators I welcome the new Minister to this House and I am very glad that his first duty is to listen to Senators. I am very happy to have an opportunity to speak on this Bill which I do not agree is unimportant legislation. Any legislation to do with the national broadcasting service is important. I find it interesting that the debate in this House should be in a relatively low key and at this time I am sorry that it is so. The main idea behind the Bill is to give the RTE Authority more money for their capital expenditure to finance in the main the building of new television studios for RTE 2.

Senator Robinson mentioned earlier that she had managed to get the Official Report of the Dáil. The debate that I was looking for was that of Thursday, 6 December, when the previous Minister replied to the Second Stage in the Dáil. I obtained an unrevised copy of that debate in which the Minister of State said that in the 1960 debate on the Broadcasting Authority Bill it was indicated clearly that RTE were expected at some stage to begin repaying the capital payments made to them and after 20 years it was felt that now, perhaps, was the time to begin talking about repayment. It does seem, however, to be a pipe-dream to expect repayments in this day and age, considering the fact that we are now proposing to give them £10 million more.

Considering that we spend such an enormous amount of money on our national broadcasting service and that a country this size has two television stations and two radio stations, it is interesting for us to discuss where broadcasting in Ireland is going. It is my belief, that RTE carry more programmes on information, current affairs and so on than most national broadcasting networks. The Irish people are avid for that kind of programme and they are well served by RTE in that area. Current affairs programming depends on a great many different areas for its success. We have had extremely good reporters and presenters on these programmes. There are, unfortunately, sometimes lapses in current affairs programming, and I am very much aware that it is a foolhardy politician who tangles with the media, particularly with the politically orientated media. However, fools rush in.

One programme which concerns this House in its discussion on this Bill is Frontline which went out over RTE late in June and which subsequently was brought to the attention of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. About half of that programme related to this House. No Senator or representative of the Seanad was invited into the studio to discuss the Seanad. There were a former Senator, an academic and the reporter, Mr. Brian Farrell. The three of them sat down and had a good meal of the Seanad and generally chewed us up and spat us out and said we were due for abolition any day, and that this was a pretty useless House. They paid some quite fulsome contributions to the university Senators. They said: “If you take away the university seats from the Seanad you have virtually nothing left. They are the figleaf in a way”.

Despite those kind remarks about university Senators, that was an unfortunate and unusual lapse in the current affairs programming on RTE. When I personally protested to the reporters and producers of that programme, I did not get even the courtesy of a reply from them. However, the current affairs programming, on the whole, has been very good, and RTE 2, to whom we are proposing to give more capital for development, have introduced a new kind of current affairs programming which is reporting in more depth on various issues. I think particularly of a recent programme on prisons, which was extremely well done. They have thrown open some windows on rather murky areas, which is all to the good. I am referring to the programme Week In on Mondays and Week Out on Fridays.

We are extremely well served by RTE. The next area that is mentioned in the Bill which I want to touch on is local radio. There is room for RTE and for independent broadcasting. We had a useful debate in this House on that subject. The taxpayers of this country should not have to pay for non-stop pop music. The young people, and other people also, may enjoy it, but it is not necessary for taxpayers to pay for pop music 24 hours a day. If pop music can get in the advertising revenue, it should be left to commerical operators with proper control over them. We must encourage RTE to develop their local radio in a way which will enable communities to communicate with each other and people to learn more about themselves and their own areas. Thus RTE can supply something for local communities which local newspapers cannot.

I would oppose the giving of the control of local radio into the hands of local newspapers. I am a believer in a mix of private enterprise and State control in local radio. RTE received £12 million last year for advertising and this is an extremely important part of their revenue. It is no harm to discuss why and how they get this advertising revenue. I have here a document called The RTE Handbook 1978 which lists the code of standards for broadcast advertising. It is an exhaustive code of very admirable standards. Some of them are slightly esoteric but obviously a great deal of work went into the compilation of this code. There is a great deal of protection particularly of children in it. However, I criticise the code on two counts. RTE should not get this £12 million in revenue without two areas being included. Clever advertising agencies put before our people a very false portrayal of what is supposed to be a normal standard of living. You never see a normal house portrayed in an advertisement. You never see a normal, ordinary kitchen. All is extremely glossy and false. Does this inculcate into people a sense of need for a standard of living which they never felt until they saw these advertisements? This area requires a deal of debate which I do not intend to enter into now. Secondly, I am sorry that we still have alcohol advertising on RTE television, and to such an extent. There are very strict rules in the code about the advertising of alcohol. Young people must not be encouraged to drink, sexual success must not seem to depend on drinking, drink must not appear essential to the enjoyment of a party. However, in the repeated advertisements all the time drink is presented as an extremely attractive, necessary part of living. The code of standards for advertising is not working in this respect. I would like to see the total abolition of all advertisements for alcohol on RTE television.

The other area of advertising that I do not agree with is that we, unlike other countries, particularly Sweden, have a complete portrayal all the time of a single sex role for men and women. A study of advertising will show that in advertisements for washing powders, floor polishes, food—any area to do with the home—the main protagonist is the woman. She is either giving food to people, looking for approval from those people for the food she is giving them, washing floors, getting into a panic about washing powder, or breaking her neck trying to get out to collect her child from school and to wash the floor more quickly. It is a terribly limited view of the roles of men and women in this country. I am sorry to see that there is not one word, in the code of standards of advertising, about that whole area. I would like to see that tackled if RTE are going to continue to get £12 million a year from their advertising revenue. A working party in existence in RTE, examining the very broad question of women in the media, were set up after a great many years of agitation on the part of the women's movement but have made no progress in this whole area of advertising, which is scandalous.

Regarding the seconding of employees from RTE to political life, this obviously should be a principle to be followed in every area. Politics needs all the talent it can get. People must be able to come into the political arena without losing their previous security. Despite the recent Devlin Report, as I have said before, politicians are grossly underpaid, understaffed, under-researched. We badly need the talent of anybody, from RTE or elsewhere, who feels drawn towards politics and who will enter the arena. The time has long since gone when private industry should consider it an honour to second employees at a high or low level to try their best in the political arena. Nobody wants RTE to be full either of failed politicians or ex-politicians, but this trend is to be very much approved of. We have not the high standard of politicians which this country needs and is going to need in the eighties. If RTE are to get an extra £10 million could it not be suggested to them that some of that amount could be used to set up broadcasting facilities in this Chamber and in the Chamber of the other House? I have said this often before and I have a motion on the Order Paper urging that debates in this House should be either televised or broadcast, live or edited. I mention it briefly because it is an extremely important part of any national broadcasting system. Are we afraid of communicating, or of the communicators? I should not like to think that we were afraid of either. It is extremely important that we consider that aspect once more and I hope we shall have a debate on it in this House very soon.

In conclusion, the national broadcasting service is a vital part of Irish life and an influential part of every home. I feel that television dominates our homes far too much, but that is a fact of life. It sits in the corner of everybody's living room and in many households life revolves around it, even at mealtimes. Given that it is such an extremely important part of Irish life, it is obviously very important that we politicians should concern ourselves with it. At the same time we must defend to the utmost our freedom of speech—freedom of speech now and in the future. Legislation on broadcasting in Ireland has blurred the outline where political control over broadcasting begins and ends. This makes a great many broadcasters unhappy and leads to an undemocratic situation. Other democracies do not need the control which we politicians exercise over our broadcasters. We should have the confidence to allow people to judge issues for themselves. If we believe in ourselves people will believe in us too. We should consider whether we should relax some of the political control over broadcasting in this country. I do not understand the continuing necessity for it and I should like to see it examined.

Ba mhaith liom ar dtús, in aonacht leis na Seanadóiri eile, fáiltiú roimh an Aire nua. Tá a fhios agam go dtabharfaidh sé faoin ualach mór atá aige ag deaileáil leis na deacrachtaí teileachumarsáide atá os a chomhair amach.

I welcome this Bill and the opportunity it gives us to raise one or two points on matters of principle affecting the funding of broadcasting. When the RTE broadcasting service was set up the general feeling was that we could not afford our own television broadcasting service. The Television Commission sitting to consider submissions on how it should be done seemed to be weighted down by the opinion that one would have to have as much money as the BBC have before one could run a television service. In the event, it was shown to be possible to run a service without absorbing all the advertising available to the newspapers and without putting the newspapers out of business, as had been feared. Over a period of a decade, when inflation was not running in double digit figures, it was possible for RTE, through their own retentions, to fund most of their expansion. It was a proving period. It is important, and the Minister raised this in his speech, that the House recognise that this is another example of how high inflation costs the country more. A service that at one point of time, from its own retention, was able to finance expansion cannot do it now because every year the value of purchasing power is slipping by amounts in double digit figures. We are taxing the people to pay for inflation. Although the Chair may think we should not discuss this point too much under the heading of the Bill, it is a fact. It should be brought home regularly that one of the evils of inflation is that we must come back for further capital financing.

Senator Hussey has made the point that the Irish taxpayers should not be asked to finance a continuous pop programme. That point could be taken with mine. If the expansion of a service is going to come out of taxation, I would agree with her that it should not be up to the taxpayer to finance continuous pop. If the independent private operators want to do that, let us make use of that chance.

I, in common with other Senators, support the developments that are taking place in local radio. It is not about handing the radio and television service over to profitmakers which is the point that I have been accused of making in public by the Director General of RTE. It is about making the best use of the resources that derive from taxation, towards meeting the objectives of public service. I agree with Senator Hussey that those facilities should be used to help communities to live together better and discuss their problems over the media and to participate more. The success of Radio na Gaeltachta is in enabling the communities of the Gaeltacht to converse with each other, in getting across that sense of belonging and of a group feeling in the common bond of the Irish language so that people in Donegal can take an interest in what the people in Kerry happen to be doing that weekend and the events that go on. This is the essence of the telecommunications system and this is what public service broadcasting should be providing.

RTE are doing a good job and any criticism or carping of mine is about getting that extra little bit of cream out of the system, rather than anything else. However, it did take the development of the pirate stations to bring home to RTE that they had to do something about it, whatever way it may be glossed over with words and waffle. On Radio 2 as it is coming across at the moment, the voices are recognisable as deriving from the so-called pirate stations. To the Minister, through the Chair, I would say "Roll on the legislation for local radio. Let air into the system and let other people have a go as well". I am sure they will stimulate RTE to produce alternatives, which need not necessarily be more and better pop, but could be more and better programmes in the creative sense, entertaining and informing in a way which adds to the level of knowledge of the nation as a whole.

We might be losing sight of the fact that RTE, in presenting an alternative pop-type programme, must be careful that they give good coverage to discs and tapes produced in Ireland by Irish artists. I do not know if all in the House know it, but the BBC have a rule about this which they stick to. They ensure that the output from Britain gets the majority of programming through their broadcasting system. It shocked me recently, when I had to take this up with RTE, to find that Irish records based in a creative way on the music of the folk tradition of this country was not getting a fair crack of the whip. One person involved in broadcasting and programmes of this kind said that there was better quality in other areas. That is all bunkum. It is up to RTE to help the Irish industry to grow and to support it. If they are worried about quality, they should help the artists to improve the quality, as would happen in Britain. It has nothing to do with chauvinism; it is about Irish people helping themselves. The new Minister understands this field and I hope he will take a special interest in it. I may not even need to say that.

There are one or two other points that I take this opportunity to air. As most of you would know, there are two Senators on this side of the House who at one stage were on the RTE Authority; for my sins, I was one of the people who was fired off of it at one stage. Senator Hussey may have a point there, that the Minister might look at the policies in relation to restrictions. This is tough Government policy and it is a sensitive matter but when a regulation becomes the rule and is always there it loses its effect. Now that we have a new Minister I take this opportunity to raise the matter in public.

There will be heavy investment in radio facilities, in television facilities, in studio facilities but I am always worried that we are missing an opportunity to develop our international broadcasting facilities. I have been saying this for a couple of decades now. I saw recently a report in one of the newspapers—I do not know whether it is true or not, perhaps the Minister may be able to ascertain this—that the Tullamore transmitter, which has a power capacity of 500 kilowatts, was running at half power, as a way of saving energy. We do have an energy problem but I would be very concerned if our transmitter with some capacity for reaching London and north Europe was being cut back in power.

I go much further and say, as I have said before in this House, that we must develop a broadcasting facility in radio which will enable us to get a much stronger signal and particularly on a long wave frequency which travels much further than a medium wave frequency. In this way, we shall be able to keep up our communications with the descendants of Irish people living in the U.K. and in Europe—and more and more of them will be going to Europe. If we are to have capital investment of this kind, we should be giving more consideration to that The policy makers are downgrading that need. I am sure that Bord Fáilte, Córas Tráchtála, the IDA and all the promotion agencies trying to sell Ireland abroad would give every help to that It is in the general spirit of the Irish person's role in Europe that we try to spread Irish values into Europe, as we did over the centuries. Now that we are back in Europe again, with the full strength of an independent nation, with our own economic position, the highest growth of any country in Europe in the last few years and more and more influence in the European scene, we should be interested in developing an international broadcasting facility on a long-wave frequency. I hope to see capital investment being considered for this in the future.

Another point which affects the capital investment policy in RTE is the role of cable television. RTE have a cable television service and there are also private operators providing cable services. I have always felt that RTE being in that business was a little bit out of character. When on the Authority myself, at the end of the two-year stay I had come to the conclusion that the cable section of RTE should be sold to private interests so that RTE could concentrate on the important thing, which is programme origination. Broadcasting is about programme origination. The technical facilities are just a means of transmitting what goes on in front of the camera and the microphone to the onlooker or the listener. The rationale for RTE having the cable service was that the rents received would help to offset what might be lost through the other cable service areas and that it would help supplement RTE's income. It could also, however, help to divert their attention from the primary purpose, which is producing good pragrammes. As far as good programmes are concerned, RTE are doing a tremendous job. It was great to see, recently, the excellent coverage given to the Pope's visit and how well it was handled. I commend RTE for an absolutely outstanding display of proficiency and efficiency. I certainly was very proud of them and wrote accordingly to the Director General about it.

Their recent tendency to be willing to spend more money on more sophisticated-type drama and sophisticated-type programmes is another good tendency, which should be welcomed and encouraged. I wish them every success in their efforts to sell these products abroad. Some more entrepreneurial behaviour is to be encouraged and there are heartening signs of it happening. This is something that the Minister could keep in mind, when he is reviewing policy in this regard. On the other hand, when we consider the money being spent on capital investment and compare the increases going into programming costs, there is an imbalance. Programming costs are just about keeping in line with inflation, whereas, through the need to provide extra services, capital costs have had to go up and, obviously, the State were providing the funds for this capital. Before the next Bill comes into the House, and when we will be discussing the local radio and other facets of it, I certainly intend to examine anything that is being published about the growth in programming costs, as opposed to the growth in capital costs. This is something which is out of step, and RTE would want to set an objective for much more investment, or a bigger proportion of its total cost to go to programming rather than to services, overheads, management costs and so on. Money should be invested in programming which is the primary purpose of the service.

Another aspect which has been raised already is the attitude to violence in programmes. When I was involved it was always said that research showed that television broadcasting displaying violence did not have a negative effect, it did not encourage young people to violence. This was what the research showed—certainly at the end of the sixties and early seventies. More recently, studies are showing the contrary to be true. It is something that RTE should keep an eye on; if they were wrong in the past in statements in relation to the results of research that should be made explicit, faced up to and something done about it and they should be more selective and careful in the programmes made and bought by RTE.

Ba mhaith liom mar fhocal deiridh trácht a dhéanamh ar úsáid na Gaeilge i gcláir RTE agus an polasaí atá acu i leith na Gaeilge agus na teanga. Is é an polasaí atá glactha ag an Rialtas seo, mar atá sé agamsa ar aon chuma, agus ag ná Rialtais a bhí ann roimhe seo in am Fhine Gael, an Lucht Saothair agus mar sin de, ná go mbeadh forbairt ar úsáid dhá theangacháis agus go mbeadh an córas in RTE ag tabhairt cabhair chun a theaspáint conas a d'fhéadfaí an Ghaeilge agus Béarla le chéile a úsáid go mór mhór nuair a oirfeadh sé ó thaobh na hocháide. Tá siad ag déanamh go hanmhaith le déanaí ar seo, go mór mhór le cláir cosúil le "Trom agus Éadrom", "Slán Abhaile" agus mar sin de. Tá na cláir sin ag teaspáint gur féidir Gaeilge a úsáid go nádúrtha agus i slí simplí, agus ba mhaith liom go bhfeicfimís i bhfad níos mó de sin ar siúl agus ba mhaith liom moladh poiblí a thabhairt do na daoine atá ag déanamh na hoibre sin agus atá ag cur leis.

There is one area in relation to the use of language and to illustrate what I mean I shall switch back to an Béarla. Up to roughly two years ago, the nuacht was immediately followed by the news for the deaf, in English. I always felt that that was a very interesting formula in that if those who wanted to see the news on television at that time, finding it a suitable time for them, failed to get all the meaning in the news in Irish they could take it up in the news that followed in a summary form in English in the "News for the Deaf". It was a very good formula. I drew RTE's attention to that at the time and got some support from various people. At that time there was an indication that something might be done about it when they went back to the rescheduling of the programmes for the next autumn. But it has not been done.

Recently also there was some talk about the news in Irish not getting equal emphasis and equal weight with the news in English on RTE 2 as well as on RTE 1. This would be a retrograde step in relation to the Irish language policy. We need an imaginative, creative approach. It is beginning to develop through the programmes I have mentioned and through the efforts of people like the chairman of Comhairle na Gaeilge, now chairman of Bord na Gaeilge. We have got to say in public that we support this; we cannot just leave it to a small group of people. I repeat that it was a backward step to remove that very interesting formula of having the nuacht side by side with the news for the deaf in English.

I take the opportunity, on this occasion when the Minister is taking his first Bill before the Seanad, to make the point and perhaps when he is meeting with the Authority he might take it up.

Finally, as far as I am concerned, RTE are doing an excellent job. I make one or two points not in any carping, critical way but in an attempt to indicate to RTE that there are some who are concerned that they should be even better still, particularly in relation to the Irish language policy.

I would like to join with the other Senators in congratulating the Minister on his appointment and in extending good wishes to him. I welcome this Bill. At the same time there are some observations I would like to make. The first is the point made by Senator Cooney about the lack of complete information. It is accepted that television in particular has a very great influence on the lives of the people and we should have further evidence on how RTE is competing for audiences with stations like the BBC and ITN. I would like to know what percentage of the people view RTE for most of the time and what percentage turn their attention to ITN or the BBC in areas of the country where all these stations are available. Here, in the Houses of the Oireachtas, we should have information such as that. I believe that the greater percentage of the people in the areas where all these channels are available watch the programmes on BBC and ITN. I would like to be proven wrong.

The Minister stated in his address that it is hoped to extend television to parts of the country where the service is not yet available. In this regard I would like to know if RTE is received in Northern Ireland. There are big areas in Northern Ireland where neither our television nor our radio programmes are received. Measures should be taken at once to ensure that the programmes transmitted by RTE on radio and television can be received in all parts of the country. In going on for such a long time without taking steps to ensure that this is done we have been remiss in our duties and obligations. I would like to have a definite statement from the Minister with regard to these points. If there are places in the Republic where Radio Éireann is not received we should know about them. If there are areas where RTE television programmes are badly received or are not available at all we should know about them too. In particular I would like to know if our programmes are capable of being received in Northern Ireland where a big section of the people would be very anxious to receive them and could benefit from them.

RTE do a very good job in some areas. I would like to join with the Senators who have complimented RTE on the way the Papal visit was handled. It was an excellently done job in that it showed great understanding and great expertise. It convinced me that if the people in RTE put their minds to doing a job they can do it well. My main criticism is that they do not turn their attention sufficiently to the kind of programmes I would like to see.

I would like also to congratulate RTE on the great improvement in the presentation of programmes on the All-Ireland hurling final day and the All-Ireland football final day. These two Sundays are really great days in the lives of the people and I am very happy to see that there has been a marked improvement in the way that they are presented by RTE. We should aim at being able to put these events on to our television screens with the same proficiency as is done, for example, in England at the Cup Final in Wembley. There are other sporting events where there has been an improvement including the Horse Show at the RDS and a good many of the international football games.

There are other areas where RTE falls down. It is usual to read unfavourable comments from people interested in the revival of the Irish language, and who devote a lot of time to it, on the amount of time and attention given to matters pertaining to the revival of Irish as a spoken language. I would partly agree with what Senator Mulcahy said about bilingual programmes such as "Trom agus Éadrom". There are many programmes in which some of the time could be given to the Irish language. Speaking only a few words of the Irish language can have a great effect. Looking at RTE as a national communication system it could not be claimed by the strongest supporter of the present policy that adequate work has been done in that regard. If a plebiscite was taken on it the verdict of the people would be that RTE have fallen down in that respect.

As Senator Mulcahy said, we should try to get our views and opinions across to the other countries of the EEC. Similarly, RTE should do more to present to us programmes on life in the other eight states but particularly the other seven if we omit Britain on which we are all reasonably well informed. RTE have a function in promoting greater understanding between the different peoples in the EEC. That is a function that has not been developed as fully as it might be.

More should be done in regard to educational programmes. Young people spend a great deal of their time watching television and educational programmes could be broadcast not perhaps in a strictly formal manner but in some other way acceptable to young people. A good example of this is a programme which is broadcast once a week on BBC in which international events are got across in a way that can be understood and appreciated by teenagers. A similar programme of that type coming from RTE would give the rising generation a greater understanding of events in the outside world and these events, with the coming together of different nations far away from our own shores, will shape the lives of the younger generation by the time they reach middle age. It is right that there should be an objective presentation of these fundamentals to young people so that they will have a greater understanding of the peoples of the world with whom we trade and with whom we live. In that regard RTE has a lot to do.

The directors of a national means of communication, and one might say, indoctrination, such as television and radio, should give serious consideration to a greater attempt to objectively put before the people the great problems that confront us. It should be a function of RTE to educate people on the causes of industrial unrest. This information should be presented objectively so that people at all levels of employment and industry can come to understand that there is something that controls what money people can get and that it is not a matter of printing money like confetti; there must be a GNP that will take us to a higher level and when we have reached the higher level of GNP there is more to go around. It is wishful thinking to hope for these things without the realisation of what is expected. It is the function of RTE to get that across, to have these problems discussed objectively without political bias so that the rising generation here will understand that one can expect from society what one puts into it and get away from the idea that we can go on taking and getting all the time and putting as little as possible in. That is a function that should be tackled soon.

Our adverse trade balance is worthy of discussion. It could be brought into the homes of people all over the country to make them realise that they could help to reduce that by the way they spend their money. We are inclined to look at things as national issues, expecting some other person to set the example whereas in many cases we can set a code for ourselves and our own families at our own fireside and not expect everything to come from here or the other House.

The over-consumption of alcohol has also become a serious problem. That should be realised by the directors of RTE and there should be a planned series of talks on that to get across to the people where we are heading.

In addition, scrapping a programme like "The Riordans", which was a true-to-life portrayal of life in the Irish countryside and, at the same time putting on a programme such as "Coronation Street" taken from the BBC or ITN is wrong. There is nothing wrong with "Coronation Street" for people who like that type of entertainment. It presents life in a street in an industrial city in England, and it is all right, to a degree, to know something about that. But if we scrap a programme like "The Riordans" which represents life in rural Ireland and keep all the other programmes then that is wrong. I would be glad to hear the opinion of other Senators here. I may be wrong but I believe it firmly.

One of the big national problems is the growing cleavage between the rural and the urban population. That arises because of the lack of understanding on the part of one community of the problems of the other. That could be prevented by programmes portraying the life of the family of the industrial worker against his background and programmes portraying the life and the trials and the long working hours of the farm workers. There is a need for greater understanding by one section of the community of the problems of the other. RTE have the means of getting this across. If a medium like RTE does not take it on, I would like to know who is going to do it. Are we going to allow RTE to develop? It will be a bad thing if it does not develop.

Finally I would like to say that RTE should present more programmes dealing with our own culture, for example, plays by the Abbey Players. In the same field we should be able to see more of what is done at drama festivals all over the country, especially events like the finals of the drama league in Athlone. In that way RTE would be portraying a representation of the lives and interests and ideals of the Irish people. It is essential that something like that be done; we have our own culture and we should develop it because we have every reason to be proud of it and, paradoxical though it might appear, the more we become associated with the countries of western Europe with their different languages and cultures the greater our pride in our own culture. RTE has an important role to play there and I hope they will set about it with a different approach to these aspects that I have mentioned.

With regard to local radio I understand that that will be discussed at a later stage. I am of the opinion that it is a good development. It should be put into the hands of community groups together with, perhaps, local newspapers. It has an important role to play in the presentation of life in our different areas.

In conclusion I would say that I appreciate to a high degree the good things done by RTE. But they have not yet become aware of the importance of the role they could play in the advancement of our culture and our economy and, indeed, the aims and ambitions of our people.

Fáiltím roimh an Aire, Albert Reynolds, agus guímid gach rath ar a chuid oibre i rith a théarma. Tá sé de onóir agam freisin fáilte a chur roimh duine des na hAirí Stáit nua Mark Killilea, atá ag déanamh ionadaíocht thar a cheann anseo. Dar ndoigh tá scan aithne ag an Aire Stáit ar an áit seo. Is mó lá agus tráthnóna agus oíche a chaith sé anseo. Tá fáilte is fiche roimhe arís anseo.

Is mór agam an seans atá againn anocht cúpla focal a labhairt mar gheall ar Radio Teilifís Éireann. Dar ndoigh, is cumhachtach an eagraíocht Radio Telefís Éireann. Is mór an tionchar atá acu ar shaol mhuintir na hÉireann, go háirithe ar an aos óg atá ag éirigh suas, agus má chaitear an deich milliúin a thabharfaimid dóibh anocht, má chaithear é sin go héifeachtach, is mór is fíu an t-airgead sin a thabhairt dóibh.

It is indeed a privilege to have the opportunity of saying a, few words tonight about Radio Telefís Éireann. Let me, at the outset compliment Senator O'Brien for the excellent contribution he made. He has said much of what I had intended to say. I agree with practically every word he said. Certainly RTE can do and have done wonderful work. We need only instance the presentations of the All-Ireland finals, The Horse Show, their coverage of the Papal visit, the excellent programmes of traditional and classical music and some excellent instructional programmes—having some relatives in Italy I have a particular interest in their present series of Italian lessons, "Amici, Buona Sera". I hope they will continue those excellent programmes.

Unfortunately, on the other hand, I have many complaints to make—and I speak not only on my own behalf but on behalf, I am sure, of thousands of people who have the same grievance. Many people have come to me adversely criticising—and from the little I have seen of it myself I entirely agree with them—such things as we are forced to view unless we turn off the television entirely on Thursday night, a feature known as "Thursday Play Date". An occasional play in this series is all right but, by and large they are most objectionable. They are on fairly early, just after the news, and younger people are exposed to them because at that time in the evening, having had their lessons done, children are anxious to stay on and view some of the programmes. Great exception has been taken to those plays by people all over the country. What the purpose of showing these plays is, I do not know. People ask why do they put these things on? There are so many excellent programmes that could be put on. Recently on a Sunday night we had a programme which was relayed from England, somewhere in London; it was a variety show lasting two-and-a-half hours. Most of the people I discussed it with turned it off after about a half-an-hour because they could see no merit whatever in it. Why must we always think that a programme is excellent just because it comes from the other side of the Irish Sea? We get excellent programmes sometimes but certainly some of them are not desirable for viewing in our sittingrooms.

I have lots of objections to some of the things portrayed on what is normally a very popular programme, "The Late Late Show" on Saturday nights. Various representations have been made to me in relation to some of the things that were displayed and some of the things that were done on the very first programme subsequent to the visit of Pope John Paul II. People came to me and wrote to me about that and they want to know what can be done about it and if there is anything at all we can do about it. In that regard I noted here in this booklet, Radio Telefís Éireann—Ireland's National Radio and Television Service—I think it was sent to all Senators and TDs by RTE—that they state:

the Authority are required by The Broadcasting Authority (Amendment) Act, 1976:

(a) to be responsive to the interests and concerns of the whole community.

But to what extent were these programmes responsive to the interests and concerns of the whole community? They must also

ensure that the programmes reflect the varied elements which make up the culture of the people of the whole island of Ireland, and have special regard for the elements which distinguish that culture

How far do these programmes take into consideration the special regard that should be had for the elements which mark our culture? The last phrase here is:

and in particular for the Irish language.

We get good programmes in the Irish language, and they get a very high rating, I understand. One of the most popular programmes is Liam O Murchu's programme "Trom agus Éadrom". However, we do not get enough of them, that is the point. As far as our own language is concerned, we should have two types of programmes, one what I might call a "Clár Teagaisc", an instruction programme for those who would like to improve their knowledge of Irish and for the few who would like to commence learning Irish. Why not have programmes on the lines of the Italian programme I mentioned some time ago, a programme for beginners? Why not have these programmes on a regular basis? We could also have programmes for advanced students who are anxious to improve their knowledge. These programmes would be of great help in supplementing work in schools and would be very welcome to the parents of the children concerned. Now that we have two channels I do not see why that could be done very easily.

My thanks to Senator O'Brien for mentioning educational programmes of general interest. We should get programmes which deal with the lives of such people as ourselves in various parts of the world, particularly in the EEC countries. We see many programmes showing the type of life lived in Britain and in various parts of the United States. People would like to know more about our European cousins. Why not have programmes showing the type of life they live and the type of entertainment they enjoy? Tá gearán eile again mar gheall ar chláir Ghaeilge. Uaireanta craoltar cuid des na cláir sin. Nílim ag cur síos ar Radio na Gaeltachta anois mar tá sin ar fheabhas ar fad. Chloisfeá droch-fhoghraíocht ó dhaoine agus níl aon leithscéal le sin. Pé rud a deirtear as Gaeilge ar an radio nó ar an teilefís ba cheart an fhoghraíocht a bheith go cruinn agus go blasta. Tugaim faoi deara má thagann abairt Fraincíse no abairt Gearmáinise isteach, bíonn gach aoinne ar an teilifís an-chúramach go mbeadh an bias ceart aige, ach chomh fada ia a bhaineann sé leis an Ghaeilge sin scéal eile. Ní féidir linn glacadh leis an drochfhoghraíocht a chloistear go minic.

Sometimes I hear commentators on news and other programmes and, to judge by their accents, I wonder if I am actually listening to the BBC. It is strange that we have such accents. There is no need for that kind of thing. People do not like it. One of the grandest things is a natural accent. We want a better balance in our programmes. Senator Hussey mentioned a specific programme which dealt with Seanad Éireann, and Senators in general, and there was not one Senator there to speak on our behalf and on behalf of the House.

Could something be done to get all our programmes to our exiles in Britain and elsewhere? I am speaking not alone about radio but about television also. They miss out a lot on that. If you have a very good set in parts of Britain you can get the programmes, but many of our people go to the Continent now and they like to keep in touch with home particularly to hear the results of matches. It is very important to get the results of the matches on a Sunday night. If a person is in France, or Italy, or Germany, or elsewhere, there is not an earthly hope of getting the results. There is no reason why the people on the Continent, our friends in the EEC, should not hear our programmes as well as we can hear theirs. Another point made by Senator O'Brien was about education for responsibility and civilised living. How terribly important that is in this era of greed, jealousy, love of idleness and all the evil things that go with those sentiments.

The radio and the television service could do wonders to educate people into an awareness of their own dignity and their responsibilities not alone to themselves but to the whole community. We owe that to ourselves and television and radio being such a powerful cultural influence they could be used to great effect to help to bring about an end to this malaise that is ruining our country and its people.

Radio Telefís Éireann have an enormous responsibility. Mention was made of violence. We all condemn violence. It is also violence to try to turn people's minds against their deeply rooted convictions and the traditional standards of honesty and decency for which this country was well known. Any programme which tends to debase our minds should not be put on our screens or on our radio channels. I would be very reluctant, as all Senators would be, to vote money for any agency that would in any way degrade, or demoralise, or corrupt our people. The Minister has a big responsibility. I know he will live up to it and I wish him every luck in his term in office.

I find myself in agreement with most of what has been said and, like other Senators, I welcome this Bill with some minor reservations which have already been touched upon by Senator Cooney and Senator Robinson. I have some doubt regarding the passage in the then Minister of State's speech when he was introducing this Bill in the Dáil which referred to the possibility of repayment by RTE of moneys advanced. Certainly that calls for some clarification because it seems to be a contradiction to introduce a Bill providing for increased moneys on the one hand, and to be talking on the other about the possibility of repaying moneys already advanced.

Some clarification is also needed in respect of section 4. We need a more precise definition of the phrase "seconded from employment". That has been mentioned already.

These minor points apart, the Bill is to be welcomed because it provides much needed capital for RTE. The national radio and television service has done us proud over the years and it deserves well from the country. That is the general feeling of the House. Perhaps one of the false causes of dissatisfaction with the standard of programmes is that people tend to compare them, naturally enough, with BBC which is arguably the best broadcasting service in the world in terms of resources and experience. It is unfair to our broadcasting service that this invidious comparison should be made. If we compare like with like, and compare our broadcasting service with countries of similar resources and size of population, we have little to complain about.

I agree with Senator Mulcahy who suggested that there is need for a long wave extension of Irish services to Britain pre-eminently, not simply as information for our emigrants there, for the Irish community there, but as a public relations exercise and an attempt to counter the basic reservoir of anti-Irish feeling which, unfortunately, is entrenched in the English Establishment. A serious attempt to beam a radio programme with a wide reception in Britain could do something to conquer that tendency.

Senator Cranitch objected to particular programmes. This is a rather dangerous approach. If you object to particular programmes, then that cuts both ways. Other people can object to other programmes and the whole question of censorship rears its ugly head. Within the broadest, of limits, I suggest that Radio Telefís Éireann should have as much freedom as possible. This country was plagued long enough by narrow-minded views, by the whole censorship mentality, and I would not welcome a return to that. A lot of the time when we think we are objecting to the dubious morality of a particular entertainment, for example, the "Late Late Show", or "Thursday Play Date", what we are objecting to in fact is the shock to our own susceptibilities. It may reflect more on the way in which we were brought up, and on a certain narrow line of approach to certain subjects, than on the objective worth of the thing being presented. That is dangerous ground.

The Bill proposes to improve reception and to extend reception of RTE 2. One should comment briefly on the second television channel and to say that, despite many misgivings, it has not turned out to be all that bad. It ranges from the stupefying banality of "Are You Being Served" to staggeringly good programmes. For those of us who are not in the multi-channel area, it has provided a very good alternative in viewing. Despite the fact that many of its programmes are not to my own particular taste. Radio 2 has not been as bad as we feared. It has had the good and fortunate result that by hiving off pop music to the second radio channel it has enabled the first channel to restore many of its good musical programmes. I am very glad to observe that some of the wide variety of musical morning programmes have been restored to the first channel. I consider that to be an essential part of the musical education of our people. Like other Senators, I regret the disappearance of "The Riordans". It was in many respects a soap opera, but it was our own soap. It was racy of the soil, and the decision to drop it is inexplicable, or to drop it without intending to replace it with a similar programme.

The Bill proposes to provide money to set up new television centres in Cork and Galway. This is long overdue. It is a long time now since we were told that the station in Cork at Spur Hill would be ready. There is still no sign of it. The idea was that both in Cork and presumably in Galway this facility would enable people to participate in programmes, to be fed into the programmes in Dublin, just as we now see this happening from London and Belfast. These regional centres are very badly needed if only to correct the prevailing metropolitan bias in our television programmes. One does not wish to sound provincial or defensive on this matter, but people have a case when they say there is an overwhelming Dublin slant to television programmes particularly. This is paradoxical because the strong evidence is that by and large Dublin people tend to watch British programmes. Yet we in the provinces are compelled to watch discussion programmes, political programmes where all the participants are, by and large, from Dublin; newscasts where a dustbin strike in the Dublin suburbs takes precedence over world shattering events elsewhere, newscasts where large working-class districts such as Gurranebraher in Cork are not properly pronounced, as if heard for the first time only. Perhaps Cork is out of fashion at the moment.

One of the reasons why radio has provided such a splendid service here since its inception in the twenties is that it did have this overall national balance. It did have this overall national participation. It reflected the whole nation to itself, not simply the Pale. One admits the financial and technical difficulties of television in this regard, but there are great advantages in this area. The sooner we have these feed-in stations the better.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an mBille chomh maith toisc go bhfuil aidhm aige ar fheabhas a chur ar sheirbhísí Radio na Gaeltachta, agus seo rud eile gur cóir dúinn, is dócha, comhgháirdeas a chur in iúl do Radio na Gaeltachta, seirbhís anmhaith ó thuas. Baineann Radio na Gaeltachta ní amháin le muintir na Gaeltachta, cé gur dóibh siúd is túisce a bunaíodh an clár, ach le muintir na hÉireann uile.

I agree with Senator Cooney about the pirate radio stations. It is disgraceful that they are still being allowed to operate with impunity. This brings the observation of the law in general into disrepute. I have never been impressed by the arguments put forward on behalf of the so-called entrepreneurial radio operators. We are told that it is an expression of entrepreneurial flair, that it is a desire to serve the community, and so on, and that you are crippling private initiative if you attempt to interfere with it. The blunt fact is, of course, that the making of money is the prime if not the only objective of private radio stations, and not the provision of a service, certainly not the provision of anything like a service for the minority, a service in the arts such as the national radio services supplied down through the years. We must await the next Bill to talk more fully about this matter of local radio, but I am glad to see that this Bill stakes the State's claim in the field, and makes no apologies for it.

In my view there is no conflict between the involvement of the State and a meaningful local or community radio. We have the success of "Corkabout" to assure us in this matter. Apart from that, there is no reason why the national radio service could not provide the technical facilities and the advice, as it is doing for selected areas, and then let the community take over. Why should local radio have to be brought into the seamy area of commercial advertising, and so on? Is there to be a real independence in local radio if it is to be animated simply by the motive of profit? I suggest we can have a real independent and community local radio if we allow the national radio service to have a broad supervisory role and then leave it up to the local community themselves.

The people who are very anxious to promote commercial interests in local radio attempt to convey that there is something sinister about a State monopoly in radio. The very phrase "State monopoly" has a sinister ring. We know for a fact that the way in which Radio Éireann have handled themselves over the years has never given anyone grounds for thinking that they could become a threat to freedom, or a monopoly of opinion, of that kind. In fact, again paradoxically, it is only under national auspices that you can have a real freedom and balance of opinion. Both radio and television have served us very well in that regard. By the same token, there is no guarantee that a so-called local independent radio under commercial auspices would not abuse that for political purposes as well as for commercial exploitation.

I am not in favour of newspapers being involved in local radio, but we will leave that to another day. Here again, I must say that, just as in the whole area generally, we would do wrong to compare ourselves with Britain. There is a natural tendency to do so and to say: Britain set up an independent radio authority, the whole thing is thriving and local independent radios are stimulating the BBC local radios and vice versa. But we forget that the comparison is entirely off the mark both in terms of financial resources and of disparities of population in the two islands.

Two weeks ago here we had a very stimulating motion on adult education and a number of Senators, including myself, made the point that radio and television are prime vehicles for adult education programmes. There is at the moment no formally presented adult education programme, though many of the programmes could fall under that category informally. It might be considered at least to what extent we could use radio and television for something like an open university system. It may not be feasible in this country. Again the drain on resources may be too much. Certainly the radio and television services cry out for more adult education programmes. Maybe there is a hesitation on the part of the programme planners themselves in this regard. Perhaps they feel that people would switch off if they got the kind of programme which was designed to educate rather than entertain. Again there is no evidence for that. The programmes which have been attempted in this category have been very successful. It is to be regretted that there was no follow-up.

Maidir le cláir Ghaeilge, arís aontaim leo siúd a deir nach bhfuil go fóill cothrom na féinne á fháil ag an teanga nach bhfuil i gceist i láthair na huaire ach cuid an-bheag ar fad den am craolta tugtha don teanga; fíu amháin d'aistríodh an t-am a chraoltar an nuacht, mion rudaí mar sin, tugann siad le tuiscint dúinn gur ag dul siar atáimid in ionad ag dul ar aghaidh. Táim báúil go leor leo siúd atá ag gníomhaíocht i láthair na huaire agus ar iarraidh an t-am a thugtar don teanga a mhéadú ar theilifís ach go háirithe.

Unless the State supports the Irish language we should give up even thinking about its continued existence. When Daniel Corkery wrote his Fortunes of the Irish Language he concluded that powerful survey of the language over the centuries with a very simple phrase: “But now everything has changed for the language. The State is behind it.” Unless the State stays behind it, there is no hope whatsoever for its continued existence. With two radio channels and two television channels, as Senator Cranitch said, there is plenty of room and plenty of scope for increasing the derisory percentage of programmes which at the moment are broadcast through Irish.

"Trom agus Eadrom" has been mentioned. While I also join in the plaudits extended to that programme, it is not, strictly speaking, an Irish language programme. It belongs to the rather twilight zone of bi-lingualism. It creates a great climate of goodwill for the Irish language. But the programmes that I am thinking of and which are needed, must be in Irish alone. Sin a bhfuil a rá agam mar a deirim a chuir fáilte roimh an Bhille seo.

I wish to welcome the Minister on his first appearance in this House although he is absent at the moment. I am assured by a well-known woman broadcaster that he is already a good listener to other people's problems. In justification of this extra allocation to RTE, I should like to feel that some of it is being used to foster greater North-South relations. Taking up the point made by Senator O'Brien, RTE face, as we all know, enormous competition from BBC and UTV. Geography has created an unnatural situation. While signals originating from the Divis Mountain in Northern Ireland can be received in Dublin, the Mourne Mountains present an enormous barrier preventing Dublin signals reaching Belfast. We have heard about the extension throughout the rest of the country and I should like to feel that in some way this barrier can be overcome. I am glad RTE have such cordial relationships with both UTV and BBC in the North of Ireland. We see a considerable amount of exchange of programmes, but I wonder whether enough is being done to foster the understanding between North and South.

I was interested to read what the Director General—Mr. George Waters—said as a guest speaker at a luncheon given by the publicity association of Northern Ireland in Belfast a couple of weeks ago. He said:

Media generally have a natural propensity for portraying the sensational and, unfortunately, in our modern society the sensations has become synonymous with the tragic. We should do more to project the positive aspects of both our societies. There has been considerable positive development in both parts of this island during the past ten years which should have been highlighted more in the media. The greater the flow of information, the greater the chance of understanding, without necessarily accepting the different viewpoints expressed on both sides of the Border.

I was very encouraged by the fact that the Director General made that statement north of the Border, and that he intends to follow that policy. As we know, there is quite a large presence of southern media in Northern Ireland. I believe RTE keep a permanent staff of 13 there as well as maintaining a network of local correspondents and freelance cameramen. Dublin-based staff are sent regularly to the North to make special programmes. We get these programmes but there is still this barrier in the signal across the Border. I hope that this positive attitude of the Director General will be followed through by the Authority and that we can give a reasonable and fair-minded coverage of affairs in every sense in the political, cultural and social aspects of life on both sides of the Border.

I commend successive Governments for appointing a Northern representative on the RTE Authority. The present incumbent in RTE is Dr. Stanley Worrell who is Chairman of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. I serve on that body and I have great admiration for his perception and his ability to arrive at a concensus which leads to positive and active decisions in the interests of our communities North and South. I would like to add my praise for the development of RTE 2, despite the cynics. Only a year has gone by and the number of interesting programmes and the amount of viewership that they are capturing indicate that the team there are doing a good job. They are to be allocated extra studio coverage and, perhaps, more important, a further outside broadcasting unit. I hope they take advice from their advisory body.

On the cultural scene RTE 2 have an advisory body on which is another Northern representative. He is a broadcaster himself and he is also a lecturer in the arts. After all, television is a visual medium. I would like to see a lot more of the visual arts on RTE 2 in particular. I agree with Senator Brugha that there is a need for more European cultural presentations and I hope that we can get an exchange of ours onto the European network.

The only point I have about the pirate radio is that a lot of people do not realise that in the areas in which pirate radio was set up it interfered not only with local reception, but when people in the area would lift up their telephones they would hear music, music, music. This point has not really come through, so legislation is all very necessary.

I will be brief. I congratulate the Minister and wish him well, and I hope that we will have very good relations in the Seanad. We have a new Taoiseach, a new Cabinet and a new Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. I would hope that there will be no change in the policy as regards allowing time to the IRA on television or on radio. In the past there was a strict rule that only affiliated political parties would have the right to time on television or radio. I hope that will continue and the IRA will have no avenue to broadcast their propaganda. We would like a statement here tonight of the policy of the Taoiseach, the new Cabinet and the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs in this regard.

There are not enough educational programmes on television. There is not enough information going through the different sectors of the community about one another. We have the agricultural sector and the trade unions, each section believing that the other intends to best them. Some type of programme must be produced on television and radio to give the true facts of what agriculture and the trade unions mean to the nation. Both sectors are very important to Ireland and it should be possible to educate each sector in regard to the other. We would like to have programmes on land division, because many people in agriculture do not understand what land division is all about, who is entitled to land and who is not, what should be done with the land when it is divided and handed out to farmers, what type of programme should be drawn up so that the best can be got from that land.

Another similar area is forestry. It is the Cinderella of all the Departments and very little is being done to promote it. The media can do a very important job in that regard. Forestry is not being used as it should be for the development of timber and furniture in this country.

Another area that is very important and which is misunderstood is the common agricultural policy. Not even all farmers understand what the common agricultural policy is all about and the people in urban areas understand nothing whatsoever about it. It is their belief that the EEC are providing money so that the farmers can make fortunes in the production of milk or beef. This is not so. Something should be done to educate the people on what the common agricultural policy is all about. We had many agricultural programmes on television but we should have a weekly programme that would start at the beginning of what agriculture is, of what land is, how the development of land takes place, and what is there for every sector of the community.

I give credit to Senator Keating when he was on the land programme on television. It was a programme that all sections of the community watched and urban and rural people understood it. Urban people could be heard talking about that programme. Something of that nature should be put on television again. Some form of programme on the development of industry should also be produced for television rather than radio because the screen is the better medium to get this subject across to the public. For instance, people with little finance could learn how to help in the development of industry and how they could invest that money to the best advantage in industry.

Thousands and thousands of people with money available do not know how to invest it in industry or in agriculture and they should be made aware through programmes on television and radio. RTE could do a lot for the nation through programmes of that nature. We should also have programmes about the stock exchange. Very very few people know how to invest money there.

Of course other types of programmes that we see from day to day on television are necessary also. However, too many programmes feature pop music and light entertainment and too few are of educational value. We must have a balance. We must raise the balance in favour of education. We are on the way down the ladder instead of on the way up as we should be, and television and radio are a lot to blame in that regard.

This is probably the most important instrument there is in the State. The television service itself covers the whole area of information to the public. Very often the views of public representatives are neglected by and sometimes unknown to the members of the Authority. I feel that we are often speaking in a vacuum here in this House and that our voice is worthless because the Authority, who represent only a small section of the community, put forward their own views. Politicians understand the real problems of society at ground level, yet we have no opportunity to put over our views on television and so understanding is lacking, as one Senator has said.

We can play an important role in many areas. Aer Lingus invited Members of the Oireachtas to inspect their organisation and discuss with management the various problems. We are fortified when we come back to the House here to speak on this issue, knowing and understanding the mechanics and the problems, and we can discuss the matter with authority and we know that our views, while they might not be accepted, nevertheless percolate down to the people in control. That is important. Maybe at some stage Members of the Oireachtas will visit Montrose, as we visited Aer Lingus, and discuss in the same way the problems that we see. Then we can give our views and it will be realised that politicians can make a worthwhile contribution to the programmes.

The Authority have done a great service throughout the years. Nevertheless, their view is contained and is not as broadly based as ours is here and in the other House. We are the people who provide the money, therefore we should know what the money is being provided for. Our voice is projected to the members of the Authority in the Official Reports of the Dáil and the Seanad and, if reported, in the press. The time and energy that Deputies and Senators spend in seeking information, compiling statements and speeches and coming into the House to speak, are wasted if their voice does not percolate down to the Authority. The Minister should look into this to ensure greater communication in many ways between the politicians and the Authority.

Television has an important national role to play and this aspect must never be forgotten, as far too often it is. Irish life and culture as shown on the national television service from time to time are distasteful to a large section of the community. This national service must project this nation to Northern Ireland, Britain, and Common Market countries.

This is a step by step undertaking and we must perfect our own situation here first. The conditions in which the people work and the technical efficiency must be at the highest level. This has been illustrated in no small way in the coverage of the recent Papal visit. The technical efficiency and the high standards achieved by the personnel at all levels in RTE on that occasion is something that we must be proud of. We have the personnel and we have nothing to be ashamed of in personnel or technical efficiency. Whether we have the necessary back-up of machinery and technical equipment is quite another matter. But when the real test was there the Authority measured up to their responsibilities in a very effective way.

Many of the Authority's programmes, such as sports, news, educational and religious programmes are very creditable efforts and are on par with television productions in other countries.

There are certain avenues that could be further explored and again I may be talking to the wind. On the question of Irish artists and the Irish programmes in general much still can be done. We have the talent and we have the technical efficiency and it is all too sad to think that we have the talent and we are not utilising it "The Riordans" has been mentioned. Some people like that programme, some people do not, but it gained a wide audience throughout the country. It shows that we can produce programmes that are comparable to the best Certainly many of the canned programmes that we get are foreign to our culture and life and the minds of people are being contaminated by them. This view has already been expressed by other Senators. I do not believe in censorship but this attitude to many of the programmes should be conveyed to the highest possible level.

In the past there was the whole question of the expansion of RTE and in the delicate formative years there were a number of industrial problems. I hope that this matter will be kept in the forefront of the Minister's mind in relation to this service because a black screen is of no use to anyone. Certainly it is not hurting the employer if the employer is the State but the fellow trade unionists, their wives and families and the people who are seeking the outlets and the information are at a disadvantage. I hope that this situation will improve as time goes on. I know that there are so many aspects of this that one could speak on it for quite a considerable time.

The present Minister is a man of the people and his problems are our problems. It is important that our problems, the problems of the average man, should be projected and not just the point of view of the academic. More average men than academics look at the programmes. The programmes should be balanced to meet the point of view of each and every section. We have seen how television can be manipulated, the Minister must be on his guard against any type of manipulation.

Not so many years ago we had in programmes that were being produced in this city the question of hidden microphones. I hope that day is gone but recently we saw in Northern Ireland a programme devised by the BBC to protect another point of view. Where television is such an important instrument every effort should be made to ensure that there is no question of deceiving people as they have been deceived by the recent BBC television programme, nor must there be any probing into the private affairs of people, which happened here in the not too distant past. I hope the Minister will take into consideration some of these views and that he will arrange for an opportunity for Members of the House here to meet the people in command in television direction and production quite apart from the Authority. I do not wish in any way to take away from the authority of the television Authority, but merely to ensure that our views are projected to the appropriate source.

Speakers here today have confirmed that many of the real problems of politicians, the grassroots of the country, are being neglected or overlooked because of the composition of the Authority or because of the views of the Authority or of the programmers. I hope that the views of Members who have spoken here in the House will not be neglected in the future and that the Minister will take them all into consideration and that the people who are responsible for the production of programmes will at least have the benefit of the wisdom of the Members of this and the other House in relation to future programmes.

I am glad to be able to contribute to this RTE Bill. I listened with interest to the debate. I would like to start by welcoming the new Minister for Posts and Telegraphs to this Chamber. Had I spoken ten minutes ago he would not have been here, but I sincerely wish him very well. I do not know him very well. I was a Member of the last Dáil, he was not. I have heard of him at a distance. He is from a part of the country that is not too far from my part of this country west of the Shannon. I am sure he has an understanding of our problems there. I wish him well with the very difficult tasks in the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs with the broader issues, of course, of RTE. If his problems were confined to those which exist in RTE, it would be a relatively simple matter, but certainly in the area of telephones there is a job to be done in the interests of this country and I wish him well in that task.

Some aspects of television disturb me a little bit We are living in a very strong consumer society and obviously in RTE, as in a great many television authorities in the world today, revenue is one of the most vital interests because without it you do not have your television at all. Revenue from advertising is vital but it is creating all kinds of problems with the relative poverty that exists in this country and the displays of luxury goods every day and every night. However, this is part of the consumer society and we have got to live with it, but it is creating all kinds of problems and a lot of human misery in many homes where people are aspiring to more material goods than many of them are able to afford.

I can take all of that, but there is one aspect of advertising which appals me completely and which the Minister and any enlightened government in this age should do something about. I am talking about the advertising of alcoholic drink. I take a drink, as a great many other people do in this country, and I get a lot of pleasure out of it. I am not suggesting for one instant that people should not drink, nor am I moralising to young people growing up who want to live a reasonable life. I object to drink advertising because we are living in a country which historically has a drink problem. I see the Acting Chairman, probably because of the institution he works in, smiling at me. But we have had historically in this country one of the most serious drink problems in the world. It is something that we have to face up to because the price we are paying for that drink problem is incalculable. I do not need to spell it out.

I would like to compliment the Brewers' Association of Ireland on the very intelligent type of advertising they have been engaging in in the press recently in an attempt to stimulate sensible drinking. I object to the advertising of alcoholic drink on television and the insinuation that if you are young to be popular, a good footballer and a hit with the girls, it is all based on the pint of Smithwick's, Light Guinness, or Bacardi and Coke. This is immoral, it is encouraging young people to move in a direction that is not in the interests of this country. The revenue in 1977-78, according to the last available RTE accounts, from advertising alcoholic drink on television was about £¾ million, and on radio was about £88,000, totalling something of the order of £850,000. In recent times, we have been talking about something of the order of £1 million.

In narrow terms, that is revenue for the State, to help to run a television station, but in another sense it reminds me of the man who had a great deal of money and lacked discernment in what he should do with it; the saying was that he knew the price of everything, but the value of nothing. What one must put against that paltry £1 million revenue is the price we are paying in the corrupting of young people; helping to increase our rate of alcoholism; contributing to the broken homes problem; building up an enormous social cost for the various health boards; building up the medical cost for psychiatric and general hospitals and, in addition, the extent to which this flaunting of alcohol is contributing to inefficiency at work, absenteeism from the job and warped and twisted attitudes to work, to life and in the home. There is one answer, a very simple one, and I shall give the Government credit if they provide it. When the new budget comes in they must ban alcoholic advertising on television, simply that. We can talk around it for months or years, but the simple answer is to cut it out and the Minister has the power through the Authority to do that. It would be of incalculable benefit. Leave the RTE loss of £1 million, or even £10 million aside. One cannot attempt to quantify the intangible. We had a debate in this House last week on the admittance of Greece to the EEC and the extent of subsidies which would be necessary and what it would cost the English, the French and the Germans. It begged another question, if one can ensure the democracy of Greece and make a stronger Europe, a World War will not take place. Do Britain or France put a price on what two World Wars cost them in this century? I shall be the first person in this House to give credit to the Minister if he takes this action, which I very strongly believe should be taken.

This Bill concerns, to a degree, the question of people in RTE becoming involved in politics and in elections relating to the Oireachtas. One disturbing aspect of television is that it is a vastly powerful medium in this country. You have the Fourth Estate and television moving in, and it is an immensely powerful organ in this country today. Presenters of programmes, in many cases justly, are extremely popular for good presentation but there is this enormous influence on every household in the land. There is a dangerous trend, politically, and a parallel with much that has been said in this House about the erosion of democracy in this country. In terms of a democracy, the Oireachtas supposedly run this country. However, we see immense power building up in semi-State organisations where, down to fourth or fifth level, we have people working, each with four walls and a private secretary, yet when we come into the Oireachtas, the legislature of this country, we have six or seven Deputies working in one room, sharing one secretary between them, which is farcical and against democracy.

We have the same thing with RTE as far as politics are concerned, that there is not sufficient or adequate political coverage. There is in news programmes, in discussion documents when you want to bring in the Minister of the day, or his Opposition spokesman to discuss policy matters or contentious issues, but, when you get down through the ranks, past the Government, members of the Cabinet, front bench people in Opposition, political coverage does not exist Some years ago there were political programmes where, throughout the country, debates took place. At times people complained about the quality of the programmes or the lack of attributes of some of the contributors. So what? This is a democracy; this is the Oireachtas. Television as a medium is one of the most important means of communicating with people and, irrespective of the merit or demerit of the participants, it is very healthy, especially now that we have two television channels, that there should be a continuing political debate, in the broadest sense, on these channels, so that our people, rather than being entirely dependent on what their newspapers tell them about people who are active in public life in this country, will have the opportunity, through the visual medium to sort the thing out for themselves and to decide on Government, Opposition, political parties and people within those parties. I say that in the broadest sense. It is very much in the national interest that that should happen, despite possible mediocrity of many of the future programmes. I will give you one small example: earlier this year we had the European Parliament elections and in the most recent RTE report, they take credit for producing two programmes in relation to Europe and Ireland in Europe:

Two important new programmes, designed to contribute towards the broadening of understanding of Ireland as a European nation, we introduced during the year. They are "Inside Europe" and "Parliamentary Europe".

I was a contestant in the European elections, in the Connacht-Ulster constituency—a constituency of eight counties—and was one of those trying to communicate with a great many people over an extremely wide area where, physically, it was not possible for any candidate to become involved with the electorate to the extent possible in a Dáil election or in a county council election. In that extremely difficult election, we had four constituencies, mine being Connacht-Ulster—eight counties stretching from Donegal to south Galway and east Monaghan—in a campaign that ran for a number of months. Apart from the political party broadcasts, which were extremely limited, the only coverage arranged by RTE for candidates in that election was approximately two minutes each. My point is that we are a democracy and communication is what politics is all about and, in that important election, with its relevance to this country, the candidates had to present themselves to their electorate over such a wide area in two minutes in a few months. There is something lacking.

Is politics important in this country? Fundamentally, is there a democracy? Does Government, does the Legislature rule, or does it not, or are elections to be contested on a sane basis in this modern age of communication? I want to make the point, not in a retrospective sense but for the future. These elections will take place again and when they do, whichever Government is in power will, I hope, have a more rational arrangement so that those who contest it from various political parties or from none will have the possibility of communicating with the electorate as they should.

Having said all that, there is much on which I can compliment RTE. My background was in the Christian Brothers' school in Westport, I have a limited knowledge of Irish and grew up in an English-speaking part of the country. The recent, type of presentation in "Trom agus Éadrom" by Liam Ó Murchú, where we have a bilingual programme, has been a great success. for many people who might find a programme completely in Irish fairly heavy weather, the excellent mix that he achieves in a bilingual programme attracts people to listen and to watch it. It is immensely more educational for those in this country who have the will to learn but who did not grow up in a Gaeltacht area. I compliment the Authority and the people engaged in that programme. It is a good approach to adopt.

RTE are doing a tremendous job as regards "World Week" since our involvement in the EEC and the extent to which we are involved in world affairs. It is an excellent programme and, by way of contrast, the incalculable advantage of this country that we also speak the English language makes it much easier for us, in comparison with countries like Greece or Holland, whose languages are spoken by extremely few people outside their own country. We have the immense advantage of being able to draw on the television resources of the English-speaking world which, in a programme like "World Week", makes for a very enlightened programme in a country as small as ours. We are fortunate to have that type of coverage.

It has been said a number of times that the coverage of the Papal visit was incredibly good for a television station with extremely limited resources in a small country. They had to cover, in two or three very short days, a very wide range of events; it was done brilliantly. It was not just to the Authority that the credit redounded, but to the country, by coverage through much of the world. They are to be complimented on the work which they did in that area.

I should like more emphasis on television on adult education. Last week, we were talking about education and the various educational authorities and technical education in universities. The point was made by a number of speakers that the single area where there is the greatest present gap is adult education, when so many people had not the opportunity to go to university or, in many cases, to secondary schools. So many houses have television sets today that there is the opportunity for adults who want to learn and who will participate in these programmes. Whilst we have programmes beamed at school children during day hours, a little more could be done in arranging programmes at more suitable times for adults in many areas of education.

I should like to say a few things on Northern Ireland. It has been unfortunate but, of course, necessary from a news point of view that we have had a concentration over the last ten years or so on the atrocities which have occurred in Northern Ireland. We have had the news bulletins about the maimings, the bombings, the killings and the horrible words and deeds from that part of this island. Whilst it has been necessary to present these events because they have been news—any journalist would have a responsibility to present them—a serious imbalance has developed, because the notion is abroad among many people in the Republic that Northern Ireland consists of violence and everything that goes with it; that there is no other part to life up there. We have been told of discrimination and the resulting problems but there is a tendency to imagine that all is corrupt. I have had the experience, going back a large number of years, of travelling to the North and recently have had occasion to go up there four or five times a year. I am, frankly, struck by the extent to which life continues despite the violence.

Whilst we are committed in this State to providing coverage of events in Northern Ireland, through RTE and in our other media, we are somewhat lacking in our duty in not presenting adequately a broad picture of life there. In terms of everyday life, there are cultural events; events in industry, agriculture, farming; the scenic beauty of the mountains of Mourne and the lakes of Fermanagh. I have been on Strangford Lough in County Down a number of times and very few people here have been up there.

A very famous programme was made by the BBC of the very profuse and unique life under water, entitled "Down under Down", which could very usefully be relayed through RTE. In broadest terms, I am simply saying that we should look at a wider aspect of life than the events on which of necessity we have had to concentrate up to now. A good day's work would be done if we adopted that type of approach.

As a Mayoman, I am delighted to read the latest RTE report of the international awards in RTE. One programme, called "Pat Fergus— Solitude and Serenity", won the Golden Ear of Wheat at the Berlin International Festival of Agricultural Films competition, 1978. Pat Fergus is a sheep farmer in north Mayo. It was a marvellous programme and I would like to see it being relayed again. I congratulate him, as much as RTE, on the award because he made the programme—some Senators may have watched it.

The west of Ireland is quite a different area, where television is concerned. In the east, most places have access to BBC and commercial television, which means that the choice is a broad one. In the west of the country and many other parts of the south-west and north-west and parts of the midlands one is confined to RTE. Obviously we expect more from RTE than people in areas with a wider choice. Whatever the reason, there are still very severe problems regarding reception of RTE 2 in many parts of the west. I know nothing about the technical reasons for it, but it limits our options very severely. I should be grateful if the Minister would look into that issue and see what the problem is. Since we have that station it is a pity that it cannot be viewed.

Having said that, I compliment RTE on the development of RTE 2, which is a most successful development. In the debates that took place some years ago there were options: one was relating to the introduction to this country of the BBC 1 programme—the authority held the view that this approach of an RTE 2 station was a better one.

At the beginning of that debate I found myself on the BBC 1 side of the argument I visited the north of England at one stage and one evening found myself in an hotel with the choice between an excellent programme on a different BBC channel and a programme of very little value on BBC 1; we could not even watch the good programme, because other people in the lounge wanted to watch the other programme. I suddenly realised that we were buying a package, and the wrong package, if we took in BBC 1. We were buying a pop programme and were confining very much the range of RTE activity. The bringing in of RTE 2 has given more scope for educational purposes, musical events, cultural events, travelogues, for European and world politics and has been extremely successful. We are a small country with limited resources and RTE 2 is a tremendous boon to the part of the country where I live and where we were previously limited to a single station. My present deep regret is that not more people are in a position to get RTE 2. These special needs of the west should be urgently looked into.

In the welter of the debate about local radio and pop radio stations and having two stations—RTE 1 and RTE 2—the Minister would know more about this than I do, but I understand that the pop Radio Éireann station is on a better wavelength or has something to do with having more power than the main RTE radio station. This is not within the fitness of things. If there has to be a choice between two strengths or wavelengths to give the pop station preference over the principal RTE station, which carries the news bulletins, discussions and other programmes, is not in the rational order of things.

To summarise: I should like to see, first, the Minister, with his reputation for getting things done, persuading the Minister for Finance and RTE that we can do without the revenue from advertising drink and just cut it dead; secondly, a broader approach to the coverage of Northern Ireland events; thirdly, on the issue of politics, those involved in politics in this country should have the same opportunity to play their role in communicating with people through this medium as other people have. Again, I wish the Minister well.

Before Senator Jago speaks, I should like to make an observation. In view of the fact that an extra £10 million is being advanced there is scope to talk about many things in the Bill. I was in a dilemma when Senator Staunton was emphasising one specific matter of advertising, but gave him the benefit of the doubt. I ask the other Senators to avoid specific references to, and over-emphasis on, any particular type of advertising.

Firstly, I join in congratulating and welcoming the Minister to the House and wish him a successful period in office.

I wish to say a few words mainly on the financial aspect of RTE. The first buildings built at Montrose were for the introduction of our first television programme. Then, about 1972 or thereabouts, there was a big building programme for studios for RTE. They were probably the most modem studios in Europe at the time, fit to house the Radio Éireann orchestra and they cost an awful lot of money. Simultaneously, there began the introduction of colour television, and a lot of capital was required on the technical side, for the implementation of colour. Now, one had this problem that RTE was obliged to generate its own capital. At that time, also, there was a review body sitting, getting information to make a report to the Minister. That report was eventually made and it was Dr. Conor Cruise O'Brien who received it—he was in office at the time. A lot of the recommendations were never implemented, and it may be worth while having another look at that report.

The difficulty at the time was to generate sufficient capital to pay for this capital programme. I think I am correct in saying that Telefís Éireann is not bound to fund a specific percentage of its receipts each year for repayment of capital, although they are bound to generate their own capital. This may be an area worth looking into. At the time it was pointed out that there is an obligation on you to generate your own capital, then not alone should you have control of your own expenses but you should have control of your own income. There were two main sources of income for RTE. One was advertising, and, of course, your advertising income depended on the number of hours you were able to devote to it on the programme, the market for it and what you charged for it On the other end, licences, RTE had no control at all; the Minister decided the licence fee.

At that time it was recommended by RTE that there should be a tiered licence system and it was pointed out there should be a higher licence fee for the multi-channel area. That was not because the multi-channel people were looking at their televisions more often; it was the exact opposite. In the multi-channel area they were looking at less Irish advertising, per hour of viewing, than those who could not look at foreign programmes. The areas which could not get multi-channel were more important to RTE for advertising, therefore the multi-channel area should, naturally, pay more.

Another point brought up at that time was that RTE maintained that they could collect their licences better than through the post office, could collect a bigger percentage of the licence and could collect it at less cost. That may be worth looking into, now that there is to be a change in post office structures. If RTE is bound to generate capital in the future, those points should be examined.

I shall make a few brief remarks on the RTE programmes. First, there is a slight lack of liaison between the two television channels; you can get a situation where you turn on one station and get pop and you change to the second one and again you get pop. If the two were to get together it would give a better choice of programme.

On programmes generally—and there has been a lot of mention that some of the programmes may not be for the good of the community—there is one basic rule in television advertising, and it is this: if you can associate the environment of the person viewing with the environment of the programme, then that programme can have an effect on the viewer. For example, if you have a child looking at a wild west programme with six guns going off all over the place, that is not going to have any effect whatever on that child, because that child's environment cannot be associated with the wild west. On the other hand, if you have a child looking at a, programme in a modern environment which can be associated with that child's environment, then there is a danger. This applies to all programmes, whether adult or otherwise, and even, as Senator Staunton mentioned, in the field of advertising—I am speaking generally now, not specifically. It may not be necessary to cut out advertising of alcoholic drink but, possibly, to change the type of advertising. I am glad to see that the Irish Brewers' Association have now a campaign to advertise the correct way to drink and to use beer. This comes under the same general rule that I am talking about on advertising.

I come now to local radio. Cork Radio has been very good so far, but do not let us go too far. I was in Canada a few years ago and Canada has gone in, to a great extent, for local radio, possibly because of the big area of the country. I was there for the Olympic Games and one could turn on several programmes and not find out what happened to Eamon Coughlan, because, on the local radio programmes, they only tell you what the local boy does. So, do not let us go too local; let us keep it a bit national.

My first point is that, on programmes, RTE must stick by their obligation of balance. This is a most important thing, especially in the area of contentious programmes. Certainly, balance has been lacking in some programmes and possibly this may be attributed in some cases to the fact that the interviewer is not experienced and tends to lead the programme by his specific questions, rather than allowing the programme to develop on what those being interviewed have to say themselves.

With those few words, I welcome the Bill.

I join, very briefly, with the other Senators in welcoming the Bill and in welcoming the Minister here for the first time as Minister.

I would like to mention the comment made during the debate that there was no information as to how the money was spent. That is really a comment on accountability. It seems that the Bill is concerned with seeking to raise the limit on repayable advances by £10 million. In that way the accountability of any specific expenditure does not directly arise here. The Minister in his opening statement illustrated the immediate problem in that he pointed out that at the end of 1978 all but £631,000 of the £15 million provided under the 1976 Act had been advanced. The public capital programme for 1979 made provision of £2.45 million so that under the public capital programme legislation was necessary if that public capital programme for 1979 was to be completed. That point is rounded off well in a further comment the Minister made when he said that the expenditure and advances for each year will be subject to examination annually in the context of the public capital programme and in the light of RTE's financial performance. That puts into perspective what is at issue in debating this legislation. We are simply seeking to raise the limit to which repayable advances may rise.

Whereas it is clear that the broadcasting Authority have not been able to generate their own capital from internal sources they are not by any means alone in that. I am referring to major organisations which are very successful both commercially and in providing whatever service they are engaged in. It is simply that it is in the nature of financial and commercial development today that recourse to borrowing is necessary, and very often recourse to borrowing is a sign of strength, a sign of development and a sign of progress. I believe that, by and large, the record in the case of RTE has been one of progress and development. The power sought in the Bill now is a continuation of that development and a continuation of that progress.

I do not intend to dwell on the service and the acceptability of the service; it has been debated well so far. I would just observe that we have come a long way from the days when the broadcasting service consisted of one radio station which was closed all day except for an hour or an hour-and-a-half at lunch time and a limited five hours broadcasting at night time. I have no doubt that all, or certainly most, Members of the House recall that; it is not too long ago. Now, in 1979, we have a service which operates two radio stations, two television channels, Radio na Gaeltachta and other local broadcasting services. This is done on an all day basis as far as radio is concerned.

It should be acknowledged that as our economy and our society has developed the service has developed out of all recognition. We are concerned essentially with mass entertainment. Tastes are personal and there is always going to be a difficulty in finding the greatest level of acceptability in the programmes that are provided. I make that comment generally; I do not intend to develop the subject of the acceptability or otherwise of certain programmes; that has already been debated. There is one point I want to make about possible future facilities. Whether we talk about adult education or about general education there is available, through the television system, a very great opportunity for further development of the role of RTE in educational programmes and programmes of specific information. These can be of assistance not necessarily to the adult population; they can be of general acceptability and importance. Whether they form part of a formal open university plan or not, there is tremendous facility and tremendous opportunities for development along these lines. I would go so far as to say that we have now reached the stage in our development and in our abilities where we can consider the type of service which we normally associate with an open university programme.

In terms of cost, which tends to frighten people when one considers a broad new development like this, there is one point I would make. The transmitters, for one reason or another are in operation most of the day. This is one of the basic costs of providing a service in any event. Our many and varied educational establishments could provide, with RTE, a very acceptable, useful and very sophisticated educational service, during the daytime and during the morning hours. It would also bring this service, both in its educational form and in its entertainment form, to a section of the population who for one reason or another are incapacitated or find themselves restricted and for whom television and the media are an important element in their lives. The cost of doing this may not be as prohibitive as might be thought on first glance because the transmission, for test card purposes and other reasons, continues in any event during the day and the cost we are talking about may essentially be of a variable nature which would make it easier to cost and, perhaps, easier to finance.

The second main point I want to make is in relation to the Irish language. I know that there is very great and very understandable criticism of RTE because of the small level of Irish which is used, certainly by the television service. Reference has been made to bi-lingual programmes and to the splendid production, "Trom agus Éadtrom". Senator Murphy referred to the bi-lingual approach as a type of twilight zone. That depends on what he means by that. But I see it as being very positive and progressive. The bi-lingual approach harnesses the level of Irish which is known to the very definite goodwill and interest which exists. It make it possible for people to follow programmes in Irish which probably would otherwise be beyond them. There is a tremendous need for a development beyond what we have in bilingualism in our broadcasting system. I would like to take it a step further and suggest—and I have made this suggestion before—that the use of sub-titles in English on the screen in Irish language programmes is a very sensible and a very positive development. Again it expands the audience; it will encourage people whose Irish is not brilliant but which is probably competent to remain with a programme which they might otherwise reject, simply believing that they could not follow it. I have seen this in operation only once and I have no doubt that it has happened more than once; the excellent Irish documentary film "Poitin" did have a dialogue as Gaeilge and sub-titles in English. It was an excellent production in itself but that combination of Irish language and English sub-titles contributed tremendously to its usefulness, and it is an excellent example of the point I am trying to make.

I know there are some people who are very attached to the Irish language and very deeply interested who may find that this is an unacceptable departure, that there is something unrefined about it. But it is a very practical and sensible approach, an approach which is absolutely consistent with and, indeed, an application of our declared policy of bilingualism and the encouragement of the use of Irish. They are the two main points I wish to make.

I would like to emphasise, very strongly but without dwelling on it, the absolutely vital importance of having our radio and television programmes available to everybody in the country. The reception of RTE, both radio and television, in the North of Ireland is so fundamentally important that whatever the difficulties we encounter—and I accept the difficulties and the practical problems—whether they are physical, legal or anything else, they are no justification for not continuing to find ways over the obstacles to ensure that all Irish people can receive programmes from the Irish television station. The reasons and the advantages of this have been discussed many times in this debate and I am not going to go over them again. I will simply say that whatever we think the advantages are, the overriding point is that, regardless of how they are received and regardless of the good they would do, there is a basic obligation to see that, as soon as possible, all difficulties existing are overcome so that all Irish people will be in a position to receive all Irish programmes so that they can make of them what they like. At any rate they must have the right to receive them.

I join with the other Senators in saying that we have been well served by the broadcasting authority over the years. I referred earlier on to the tremendous development over the 20-year period. I believe that the power sought in this Bill is an investment in future progress, an investment in future development, and I join with the other Senators in welcoming it.

I do not propose to delay the House too long. Let me say immediately that I welcome the Bill. Before I say a few words on the Bill I would like to congratulate the Minister on his appointment. I certainly do not envy him his task. Because of the problems and the difficulties that go with this position there is no doubt that criticisms will fly. But I hope we will make any criticisms with goodwill and in a constructive manner and, as a result, come up with some useful observations which will help the Minister in his immediate task.

The first thing that worries me a little about the Bill is that I am not quite sure whether the Minister said in the Dáil that if the interest is not paid on the outstanding debts they will have to find a way to collect it. If that is exactly what was said what does it mean? Does it mean that advertising rates will go up or that licences will be increased? The money has got to come from somewhere. Senator Jago's contribution was very pertinent to the whole question; he spoke about finance and this is really what we are talking about to a great extent.

On the question of local community broadcasting, I can understand the fears that community radio will take the place of the main radio stations, but there is another side to it. Nowadays, instead of building in the inner city we are building big communities in the suburbs and we are sending people out to places now like Killinarden out on the Blessington Road which is miles away from the city centre; and big communities are growing up around Ballyfermot and some of them are actually bigger than some of the cities in the rest of the country. Those people have great difficulty in settling into the community.

One of the ways of trying to knit the community together is by having some access to local radio because it is a good medium for communication. It is not very easy to start dishing licences out all over the place but the position of large communities should be borne in mind because other facilities are missing and there may be some degree of delinquency. Community radio can be a great help to the people of those communities; it can help to knit them together and it gives them a bit of pride in the community and helps them to settle down.

On the question of BBC 2 being brought to the people who at present have access only to RTE 1, I am not so sure that they are any worse off for not having those other stations. Travelling through the south in the recent by-elections I did not witness any great agony on the faces of the people because they have not got these other stations. I do not think that is a real issue. But it might be an interesting exercise to have a survey of the situation to see if they really miss and are anxious to have the sort of programme that is handed out on these other stations. I cannot believe those people feel deprived because they have not got these stations but if they do miss them, they are not that badly off because of it.

On the question of advertising, I am not going to deal with specific matters. I am just going to make a general statement. The only way that the advertising side of RTE can be protected is through consumer protection, by strengthening the consumer legislation that we have or introducing Bills to protect consumers. In the long run, one cannot pick one particular item that is advertised because if a fellow is selling washing powder that is good this year, to sell it again next year he has to tell people to discontinue that product and be a re-consumer of some new, improved product, and it is the same with a lot of other things. Generally speaking, the advertising field is very wide and the television Authority would not gain any financial benefit by probing too deeply into the type of advertising that is going on. If suitable clauses are put into consumer legislation that should take care of that problem.

With regard to the question of farming and the urban community, when one travels around the country to talk at meetings and so on, one is amazed at the gap in points of view between people, particularly in organised groups. An example is the trade union group. Certain people happen to get on to the media to react to something that is happening elsewhere and they are assumed, by the people who are receiving those programmes, to be speaking authoritatively for the ICTU when in fact they are not but because they have fairly long tongues they are very welcome on television and the wrong impression goes out to the people.

The same thing can happen with the farmers' association. A few people react and are interviewed on television straightaway and again there is a big communication gap. When one gets up to talk to people in a hall it is amazing how well one can communicate with them. I had an experience recently in Mullingar where the people realised that what was coming across in the media as a trade union point of view was not that at all.

A few moments ago I referred to consumer problems. Many people have to resort to programmes such as "The Gay Byrne Hour". In my opinion he does a very useful job and I would like to congratulate him on it. He provides a good social service whereby people can have their grievances redressed and he brings about some very beneficial results. But it is a pity that people have to rely on that sort of a programme to get their problems resolved. The State should sponsor that type of dialogue. The State advertises in relation to all sorts of things. Why can it not have a sponsored programme to tell people what their rights are, where to go, who to see and what to say when they have problems?

In relation to the investigative side of journalism, it is quite good. I am glad to see that we avoid witch-hunting to a great extent. In the newspapers some more investigative journalism might be beneficial. With due respect to the journalists there are not many around of an investigative nature. The balance in programmes, for example, often seems to be weighted in favour of one side as in the Wood Quay issue. In that case, the people who may not have felt that there was a case for keeping Wood Quay as an historical site did not get as much time on the air as the people who were in favour of its retention as an ancient historical monument.

I want to talk now about cross-Border programmes. For example, housing conditions and other social problems of both Catholic and Protestant communities on both sides of the Border can be publicised by the media without political bias or innuendo and that would be very beneficial.

On the question of the Irish language, there are more people speaking Irish now than ever before. Many more people have been attracted to the idea of learning Irish. One of the problems is that the advertising that is done merely puts into the minds of people such as myself the idea that they are sorry they did not learn the language before now. But the desire to learn does not grow. I have spoken to a lot of people who started learning Irish but then dropped out after a few lessons. We need some incentive. Unless the desire is created and maintained no progress will be made. Greater emphasis has to be put on creating the desire in people to learn Irish. At the moment I do not think we are winning on that particular one.

There are difficult housing problems here, particularly in the cities. Many of the people who come to me with day-to-day problems do not understand this. There has never been a proper way of telling the people what their rights are. TD's can send out notes explaining people's rights but there are always suspicions and accusations that there is corruption, and that officials are getting thousands of pounds in bribes. There must be a better means of communication. We have television and we should try to use it to indicate to people quite clearly that there is a system there and that it works and let it be explained; evidence of how it works can be given. We are inclined to let the rumour go abroad that if one gives somebody a back-hander or acts in a corrupt way one will get a house. This has not been my experience. My experience is that the people who are in the housing areas are doing a good job, a difficult job, trying to work systems that are not fully understood by the public and they have no chance of communicating to the public how the system works.

When people travel abroad they tend to listen to the radio to see what is happening at home. We should be able to learn more through the media about how our emigrants are getting on in different parts of the world, how they are settling in and the problems they face. In the early days we had one or two programmes but they concentrated on Camden Town to the exclusion of other areas and they have been discontinued. We hear about the few emigrants who became millionaires but we do not hear about the other thousands of people in the UK, what problems they have in settling into a new community and what it is like rearing a family in a new country and so on. There is no real exchange of emigrants' attitudes. Those are the few observations I want to make.

I should like to thank Senators for their contributions to this debate. I am especially grateful for the good wishes which Senators have conveyed to me on my appointment as Minister. I hope I can meet the challenge of this great post as well as my predecessors and that when my time comes to vacate it I will have made a significant contribution towards the workings of this very difficult Ministry, as many Senators observed here today. There will be no lack of effort on my part. We are debating one aspect of my Department here today. I will have an opportunity of meeting Senators here again with other Bills that are coming up, and we will go into broader areas of my administration at that time.

I will endeavour to deal with the matters raised by the various speakers during the debate. I welcome many of the suggestions which have been made. I have taken note of specific ones, and they will be of great help to me as I make my assessment of the Department of which I have the honour to be the head, that is, the Communications Department. I will give them full consideration and perhaps some of us may see the fruit of some of those suggestions in the future.

I was very impressed by the manner in which this Bill was debated here. I will attempt to answer the many questions asked in relation to information and expenditure. At this stage it would be inappropriate for me to deal with matters of programming and day-to-day administration in RTE, as the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs does not have any statutory functions in these areas. I am sure, however, that the RTE Authority will have due regard to the views which Senators have expressed in this area. I will bear in mind those suggestions at my first meeting with the RTE Authority in the very near future. I may get the opportunity of seeing them tomorrow.

However, there is one area of programming where comment by me personally would not seem to be out of place. I refer, of course, to the RTE coverage of the recent Papal visit. This was undoubtedly an important occasion in the life of RTE, as it was for the country as a whole. The service provided by RTE was praised not only throughout the country but also by many broadcasting organistions and individuals overseas. RTE did the nation proud in this coverage. I compliment them on their achievement, as they have been complimented not alone in Ireland but throughout the international scene of broadcasting as well.

Many Senators, including Senator Donnelly, referred to the educational aspects of broadcasting. I know many Senators are especially interested in broadcasting as a means of education both formal and informal.

My attention has been drawn to the recent interesting and wide-ranging discussion in this House on a motion regarding adult education in which many references were made to broadcasting. RTE have, over the years, contributed much in this field. Perhaps this has not always been appreciated because the programmes which educate are not formally labelled as educational. However, one can think of many fine programmes and series of programmes which RTE have made themselves, or have bought from overseas, which have served to illuminate in a new way for many of us our history, our culture, the natural world about us and, of course, political. social, economic and other developments here and elsewhere. These programmes have succeeded largely because they entertain as well as educate. I suspect that when programmes are billed as educational programmes they lose a section of the audience immediately.

Formal educational programmes on RTE are in the form of "Telefis Scoile" which was launched by RTE in 1964 with funds from the Department of Education. I understand that Department have been unable to continue the funding in recent years, and RTE have continued with "Telefís Scoile" on a modified scale and at a reduced cost. The question of any expansion of formal educational broadcasting on RTE is really a matter which should be pursued with the Minister for Education. The Broadcasting Review Committee which reported in 1974 came to the conclusion that the arrangement whereby the Department of Education pay for programmes produced for and broadcast to schools should continue.

The possibility of opening an Open University, which was referred to by Senator Michael Donnelly, and indeed by other speakers before him, has been suggested from time to time. The Open University in Britain is a system of higher education for adults involving a partnership between the BBC and the Open University—an independent teaching and degree-awarding university. The British Government pay a grant to the Open University and they, in turn, meet in full the BBC production and programme costs. Students pay a proportion of tuition fees, the cost of summer schools, books, and other expenses to the University. The cost of an Open University here would be very great in relation to our resources. I was interested to read in the recent Seanad debate in this regard that the National Institute for Higher Education apparently considered using radio and television to extend their services but thought the cost would be prohibitive. That is not to say we will not continue to look at the suggestion, and I will certainly give an assurance to the Seanad that I will look at the suggestion again, and who knows with what end results.

I will now try to deal with the various questions which have been raised in the order in which they were raised. Senators will forgive me if I have not got the name of each Senator who raised a particular question. I have tried to put them in the order in which they were raised. I will give the House all the information which is available to me. Senators will understand that I have been a matter of hours only in the Department, and not a matter of days, and I know they will bear with me. I will have an opportunity of coming back here again in the not too distant future because other Bills in the broadcasting area are almost ready. One is already in circulation and another will be ready soon.

Senator Cooney and other Senators wanted a breakdown of the capital programme for which this money is required. They asked where it will be spent, and on what it is to be spent. The figures are: £2.3 million on the television network, improving coverage and reception of RTE2 and RTE1 in various parts of the country, including new stations at Clermont Cam, County Louth, and County Donegal; Radio network £1.7 million, including "filler" stations to improve national coverage, work associated with second national service and relocation of Dublin transmitter; Television production facilities £14.9 million, new studios and equipment for increased home production on RTE2, and renewal and development of existing facilities; radio production facilities £1.6 million, work associated with the second national service, and renewal and development of existing facilities; regional broadcasting centres and Radio na Gaeltachta £2.6 million, development of TV broadcasting centres at Cork and Galway and strengthening of regional inputs into the national services; and miscellaneous £0.4 million.

RTE estimate that they will be able to fund £13.2 million of the £23.5 million programme from internal sources—revenue surpluses and depreciation funds—and by external credits. They envisage that the balance of the programme, £10.3 million at 1979 costs, will be funded by repayable Exchequer advances as follows: 1979, £2.4 million of which £0.631 million has already been advanced; 1980, £3.35 million; 1981, £3.30 million; 1982, £1.20 million; and 1983, nil; a total of £10.30 million of which £0.631 million has already been advanced. RTE's plans do not call for approval at this stage. Capital allocations and advances will be considered each year in the context of the public programme. Many Senators requested that information.

Senator Cooney was under the impression that no action was being taken against pirate radio stations. I should like to confirm that this is not the case. There have been some recent successful prosecutions against such stations. The Department need further power to deal with them efficiently. A Bill which will provide such power is at present before Dáil Éireann. Senator Cooney and others were worried about the viewing audience of RTE2. Senator Staunton differed somewhat from the view of Senator Cooney. Senator Cooney seemed to be of the opinion that it was not attracting a good viewing audience—that is the impression I got from what he was saying —and Senator Staunton——

If I may make one interjection, I was referring to the west of Ireland where people have no alternative. I certainly compliment RTE on the work they are doing, but it is possible that from the perspective of the east coast where people have a choice there may be a different issue of which I am not aware.

The Senator was concerned about the audience. It is accepted that it takes a long time to build up an audience with a new television programme. I understand that RTE2 have done much better in this regard than, for example BBC2. Recent Tam ratings published in the RTE Guide would tend to confirm this. I understand that RTE2 are quite happy with the viewing audience for RTE2. With the volume of advertisements being broadcast they are quite happy with their progress to date. I note what the Senator said about bad viewing in the west of Ireland, and at a future date I may have more information for him.

Other speakers seemed to be concerned about the financial position of RTE and asked for information. I will give the information available to me at this point in time. RTE's most recent financial year ended on the 30 September 1979. Income and expenditure figures for the year are not yet available, but indications are that a surplus of about £.3 million may result from the year. Broadcasting operations are expected to break even for the year and a surplus of £0.3 million is expected on RTE Relays. This outturn is regarded as satisfactory in view of the reduction in licence fee income in the course of the year due to the postal dispute and the exceptional expenditure of over £0.5 million incurred in providing coverage for the Papal visit.

The question of advertising income was raised by some speakers, including Senator Cooney who said the advertising income of RTE was static and that they were not able to finance their capital programme. I should like to draw the Senator's attention to the most recent report of the RTE Authority which showed that between 1974 and 1978 licence fee income rose from £6 million to almost £12 million. Radio advertising revenue rose from £1.7 million to almost £3 million. Television advertising revenue rose from £5.6 million to £9.2 million. The large increase in capital expenditure in recent years has been mainly brought about by the establishment of the second transmitter network for RTE 2. RTE could not reasonably be expected to finance capital expenditure of this magnitude entirely from their own resources.

Senator McGowan, Senator Brugha and others raised the question of Radio na Gaeltachta and the need for money for Radio na Gaeltachta. RTE have provided significant development in Radio na Gaeltachta in their capital plans for the next few years. As I said in my opening speech, they plan to extend the studios in Donegal and Kerry. Recently there has been a significant development in the introduction of midday broadcasting and an overall increase in the hours of broadcasting for that service.

Senator Robinson inquired about the details of RTE television coverage in the areas where reception is less than satisfactory as, indeed, did Senator Staunton and others, and asked what steps are being taken to improve the situation. At present RTE 2 is available to 90 per cent of the population, while RTE 1 is available to 98 per cent. RTE are proceeding with the extension of coverage of both services to remaining parts of the country as quickly as the available resources allow. The provision of the transmitter network for RTE 2 is of necessity, a phased development. The first phase, which has been completed, involved the provision of six high power transmitters which provide coverage of RTE 2 for approximately 90 per cent of the population.

Provision was also made to provide RTE 2 at a number of low-powered transposers from the outset for operational reasons. This approach also has the advantage that the new service was provided for the greatest number of viewers in the former single channel area from the beginning. RTE's main development priorities for improvement of reception are: (a) the provision of new stations for RTE 1 and RTE 2 at Holywell Hill, County Donegal and Claremount Cam, County Louth. These stations are expected to be in service in the latter part of next year. The provision of the Holywell Hill station in County Donegal will lead to the cessation of the monochrome 405 line service in the area; (b) the extension of RTE 2 and RTE 1 over north Mayo and west Galway; (c) the completion of coverage in West Kerry; and (d) coverage planning for the south Tipperary, north-west Donegal and west Clare areas. The improvement of reception in a number of other areas is likely to require the provision of additional transposers and adaptations to existing transmitters.

A very large volume of investigative work is being carried out by RTE to determine how best RTE2 may be provided from these transposers not yet equipped for the service. RTE2 are pressing ahead as quickly as possible with this work, which is both complex and time-consuming.

Many Senators asked for information regarding the question of requiring RTE to repay Exchequer advances. A total of £15 million in repayable Exchequer advances has been made to RTE by the Minister for Finance under section 23 of the Broadcasting Authority Act, 1960. Of this amount £433,500, which was advanced to RTE in connection with the acquisition of Ardmore Studios, was subsequently repaid to the Exchequer by the Department of Industry, Commerce and Energy. None of the balance of £14.6 million has been repaid by RTE. The statutory position is that the terms and conditions as to the repayment of Exchequer advances are proper to be determined by the Minister for Finance. The Department of Finance have put forward proposals for repayment of advances made to RTE up to the end of 1978. These proposals have been referred to RTE for their observations, which are awaited. If implemented, they will not have a significant impact on RTE's financial position. In other words, they have worked out a programme of repayment over a period of both capital and interest and, when RTE have sent in their observations, we will be in a better position to determine what the likely repayments are to be over future years, including capital and interest.

Senator Hussey and other Senators raised the question of broadcasting the proceedings of the House and raising the standards of politics and politicians. She said, "fools rush in". I will not be so foolish as to rush into that area. I should just like to say it is a matter for the Committee on Procedure and Privileges to get the agreement of the three parties involved. If and when that agreement is forthcoming, it can be taken a stage further.

Senator Murphy, Senator Mulcahy and other Senators advocated the use of long wave radio frequency to broadcast from this country to Britain and the rest of Europe. Senator Harte wants a better service for our emigrants in England. I have personal knowledge that they are very anxious to get the best possible reception over there. On a recent visit to Birmingham and London the point was made to me that it is the one real, live, everyday connection they have with their homeland, and it is not surprising that this question was raised here.

The long wave frequency which is assigned to this country is for a 500 kilowatt station on 254 kilohertz at Tullamore. This frequency is also assigned to broadcasting stations in Algeria, Finland, Syria and the USSR. As this is part of the long wave band that is at present shared with aeronautical radio navigation services and maritime services, Ireland will not be able to use this long wave frequency until these services are removed to another frequency band. This may take quite a number of years. Engineering calculations show that reception from such a long wave station would be considerably more restricted in area than Senators appear to envisage. Because of interference from foreign stations, reception after nightfall might not even extend to the whole of this country. However, at my first meeting with the RTE Authority I will mention the suggestions made by Senators and, if any improvement can be effected in the near future, I am quite certain they will be only too willing to assist

Senator Mulcahy and others raised the question of RTE Relays. I should just like to inform the House that in the year ended 30 September 1978, the latest year for which figures are available, RTE Relays income exceeded expenditure by over £200,000. This surplus represented a useful contribution to the financing of RTE's capital expenditure on the broadcasting service. In these circumstances it would seem undesirable for RTE to divest themselves of RTE Relays.

Senator Mulcahy and others raised the question of the timing of news programmes. I understand the present arrangements were made by RTE after consultation with Comhaltas Náisiúnta na Gaeilge.

RTE reception in Northern Ireland was raised by Senator Brugha and others. RTE radio reception on medium wave should be satisfactory throughout all parts of Ireland. About 14 per cent of the population of Northern Ireland can receive satisfactory reception of RTE television signals at present using simple outdoor aerials. Fringe type aerials may give a service of variable quality to a greater proportion of the population. Overspill of signals from new stations in Donegal and Louth, which are necessary to improve reception in these areas, will probably improve the position somewhat. However, under international regulations the power transmitters must be limited to that necessary to provide satisfactory reception within the borders of the country concerned, although it is understood that some overspill is unavoidable.

I now come to the question raised by Senator Staunton and others of the advertising of alcoholic drink on television. Advertisements for spirits and hard liquors are not accepted by RTE. The advertising of other alcoholic drinks accounted for only 7.9 per cent, £763,400, of RTE's total revenue, TV and radio, from advertisements in 1977-78. RTE apply a strict code to these advertisements. RTE are phasing out advertising for all alcoholic drink over the next four to five years. Senator Staunton said that if I could do that by 1 January, he would be the first to compliment me. Having taken over this morning only, I think 1 January is rather unrealistic.

We will give the Minister until February. The Minister said it represents 7 per cent of total revenue. That is paltry.

I take the suggestions seriously and I will convey them to the right quarters. It is a serious national problem. I know the image we have internationally. As I say, at the first available opportunity I will take the suggestions to the proper quarters.

Other questions were raised about Radio 1 and 2 reception I have some information which may be of interest to Senators. RTE Radio 1 is at present broadcast on the Tullamore and Cork medium wave transmitters and on the Radio na Gaeltachta VHF network when it is not being used for Radio na Gaeltachta. RTE Radio 2 is broadcast on the Athlone and Dublin medium wave transmitters and on the main VHF radio network. The RTE Authority decided to allocate the main VHF network to Radio 2 on its introduction in order to provide reception of the new service over the widest possible area. The Radio 2 medium wave transmitters at Athlone and Dublin do not give as good a national coverage as the Radio 1 transmitters at Tullamore and Cork.

The quality of radio reception varies with distance from the transmitter, topographical features, and the receiver and aerial used by the listener. The Radio 1 Tullamore medium wave transmitter gives reasonably satisfactory coverage but in some areas reception may be subject to interference from foreign stations at night.

RTE accept that the arrangement whereby Radio 1 is broadcast for part of the day on the Radio na Gaeltachta VHF network is less than fully satisfactory. They are considering how best to provide Radio 1 on VHF throughout the day- without depriving listeners of reception from Radio 2. The long-term solution to the problem would be the use of additional transmitters but these, naturally, are costly. There are, moreover, only a limited number of frequencies available nationally and internationally. The needs of other services such as independent local radio authority have to be considered when national allocations are examined. The negotiation of additional frequencies internationally is a lengthy process without any certainty of success. It may, therefore, be some time before RTE can come up with a satisfactory solution to the problem.

Senator Harte made the point about problems that will arise not alone in this part of my Department but in many other parts as well. I assure him and the House that I will welcome constructive criticisms, that problems will arise inevitably but that with goodwill on all sides they can possibly be solved before they develop, or, if not, at worst—we are now in the season of goodwill—I would hope that goodwill and constructive criticism will be the order of the day. Any problems that do arise certainly will be given my goodwill at least and I hope that the same will be forthcoming from all other sides as well.

In relation to radio and television coverage, Senator Staunton and others made the point that little time was given in the recent EEC elections to coverage of our national parties. I do recall reading in The Sligo Champion the problem he had with communications down in Sligo where he spent considerable time. I will intake the suggestion to the RTE Authority that in future when we get round to EEC election time and other elections as well that they give consideration to the suggestions that I have collected here today. Communications is the problem of the day. Communications is the title given to my new Department and I hope that we can all, as a nation, communicate better in the new year and no effort will be spared on my part or by the officials of my Department to ensure that better communications are set up not alone in relation to this aspect of the Department but in relation to others as well.

I am not unaware of the challenge that faces me in this new Department. I am not unaware of the efforts that have been made by my predecessors and the groundwork that has been laid before I came here. As was said in the other House this evening, whether my stay is long or short—they seem to think it might be short but I hope it will be long because you cannot solve the problems in a short time that are here to be solved—they will have my full efforts in trying to solve the problems. I appreciate the suggestions that have been made. I hope that I have covered all the questions that have been put to me and that we will have an opportunity in the not too distant future to come back to other areas of broadcasting. Again, I welcome all the suggestions of Senators and hope that I have dealt as far as possible with the questions they have put to me.

I asked one question which I felt was very very important and I did not get any answer from the Minister. The general public would like to know the position, now that we have a new Taoiseach, Cabinet and Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. What would be the policy of the Cabinet, the Taoiseach and the Minister with regard to broadcasting and the IRA?

The question raised by the Senator must have been raised in my absence, but I assure him that there is no change in relation to the policy of having broadcasts from the organisation mentioned. There is no change whatsoever. I can assure the Senator and the House there is absolutely no change whatsoever.

The answer pleases me very much.

I pointed out in my opening address that this Bill is needed to provide the money. The money cannot be paid out until the Bill is passed. I would respectfully ask the House to pass all the Stages of the Bill this evening.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill put through Committee, reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.