Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £27,238 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íochta an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníochta i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1936, chun na dTuarastal agus na gCostaisí eile a bhaineann le Fóirleatha Neashrangach (Uimh. 45 de 1926.)
That a sum not exceeding £27,238 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1936, for the Salaries and other Expenses in connection with Wireless Broadcasting (No. 45 of 1926).
The amount of the Estimate for the Broadcasting Service for the year 1935-36 is £40,838, as compared with £38,796 for 1934-35 showing an increase of £2,042 mainly under sub-head B, which provides for expenditure on programmes.
The revenue from wireless receiving licences last year amounted to about £34,000 showing an increase of about £7,500. On the 1st October last the £5 licence fee for hotels, restaurants, and other public places, as well as the £1 licence fee for schools or institutions, were abolished and an all-round licence fee of 10s. was introduced. It is anticipated that there will be no loss of revenue as a result of the reduction in the fees, owing to the increasing number of licences being taken out as a consequence of the reduction.
Fees for advertisements and miscellaneous receipts amounted to £13,600, which shows a reduction of £9,200 compared with the previous year. The general policy in regard to advertising programmes was reviewed in the course of the year in the light of the experience gained, and the present policy is to accept only advertisements relating to Saorstát products and enterprises. This involves a reduction in revenue, but there are obvious objections on the grounds of national policy to the broadcasting of non-Saorstát advertisements from State stations. The total Broadcasting revenue amounted to £47,600. The direct expenditure on the Broadcasting Service out of Votes last year amounted to about £47,500, so that direct Broadcasting revenue and direct Vote expenditure were about equal.
The number of wireless licences issued last year was 66,200, which represents an increase of 15,200 over the previous year. The number of licences in the current financial year may reach 76,000, showing an increase of about 10,000. Special Inspectors are employed throughout the country in detecting licence defaulters, with very good results, and a large number of defaulters were prosecuted during the year.
The estimated revenue from licence fees in the year 1935-36 has been estimated at £35,000, and from advertisements at £10,000, but if the present rate of increase of licences continues and the receipts from advertisements are maintained the total revenue may reach about £50,000.
The direct Vote expenditure during the year is estimated at £49,713, and it will be seen, therefore, that the revenue from licences alone without the advertising revenue, which is an uncertain item, would fall far short of the Vote expenditure.
I have to explain, moreover, that there is no Commercial Account for Broadcasting, as there is for the Post Office, and in considering total expenditure on the Broadcasting Service it is necessary, in addition to the direct Vote expenditure, to allow for capital charges in respect of cost of erection of stations, interest, depreciation, etc., which can be provided for only out of general Exchequer revenue.
There has been a good deal of criticism of the programmes. Much of this criticism is perhaps unreasonable and reflects only individual views, but when criticism is constructive and helpful it is always very sympathetically considered by the director and every possible effort is made, so far as circumstances allow, to meet the views expressed if it appears that these represent the opinions of a considerable body of listeners and that their adoption would be likely to improve the general standard of programmes.
There has, in particular, been much criticism of the broadcasting news service in the Press recently. The provision of a satisfactory news service is, however, very difficult, owing to the fact that there is no general news collecting and distributing agency in the Saorstát and the cost of setting up a broadcasting news organisation throughout the country on the lines of a newspaper reporting service would be prohibitive.
Efforts were made some years ago to secure a news service through the newspapers but a satisfactory arrangement could not be come to at the time. The whole question of the news is, however, being examined afresh and it is hoped that in a short time an improved service will be given.
It appears to me that much of the criticism directed against the programmes is based on the assumption that the revenue from wireless licences more than covers the entire cost of the broadcasting service but this is of course quite incorrect as is clear from the figures which I have already given.
Notwithstanding the criticism, however, I have no hesitation in asserting that there has been an all round steady, although admittedly slow, progress both in the scope of the programmes and the general standard of their presentation, and I can only promise that special efforts will be made during the course of the coming year to effect a considerable all round improvement.
As the House is aware Dr. Kieran, who has been Secretary of the High Commissioner's Office, has been appointed Director of Broadcasting and he is at present engaged in looking into the whole organisation of the service. It will be observed that provision has been made in the Estimate for a production manager. This matter has been held up for some time pending the appointment of a new director, but it is now intended to fill this post on a temporary basis for an experimental period until the director has had an opportunity of examining the staffing arrangements generally in the Dublin Station.
Before concluding, I wish to refer to the recent reversion of Mr. Clandillon to his parent Department from which he had been seconded to the broadcasting service. Mr. Clandillon undertook the arduous task of organisation of the programme side of the broadcasting service on the opening of the Dublin station and I am glad to take this opportunity of expressing appreciation of his valuable service as director, under difficult circumstances during the past nine years. I may explain that the reason for the change in the directorship is that having regard to the nature of the duties of the position it appears desirable as a matter of general policy that changes in the programme control should be made occasionally.