Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (490)

Bernard Allen

Question:

606 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he will make a statement on the decision not to lift the ban on religious advertising. [1812/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources)

I am of the view that the ban on religious advertising as provided for in section 20(4) of the Broadcasting Authority Act 1960, as qualified by section 65 of the Broadcasting Act 2001, and section 10(3) of the Radio and Television Act 1988 should remain. In arriving at my decision, I had regard to a diverse range of opinions expressed during a public consultation process I conducted last year. In arriving at the view that the ban should remain I was conscious of the potential intrusive nature of advertising on radio and television, which is different to other forms of advertising. I am of the view that it is not desirable that individual groups would be in a position to buy air-time to deliver an unchallenged message that is aimed at influencing and altering behaviour in society in circumstances where it is difficult for the public to test or verify positions advanced.

Section 65 of the Broadcasting Act 2001 provides that the ban on religious advertising does not preclude the broadcasting of a notice of the fact that a particular religious newspaper, magazine or periodical is available for sale or supply, or that any event or ceremony associated with any particular religion will take place. if the contents of the notice do not address the issue of the merits or otherwise of adhering to any religious faith or belief or of becoming a member of any religion or religious organisation.

Submissions received as part of the consultation process are available on my Department's website. I will also publish the report on the consultation process and the documents, which set out the basis for my decision.