Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 16 Feb 1966

Vol. 60 No. 15

Broadcasting Authority (Amendment) Bill, 1965: Second Stage.

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

The main purpose of this amending Bill is to provide statutory authority for the payment of grants in respect of net receipts from licence fees to the Broadcasting Authority during the 5 years ending 31st March, 1970. Section 22 of the Act of 1960 authorised the payment of such grants for the 5 years ending 31st March, 1965 only.

Some minor amendments which experience has shown to be desirable are also proposed. One change concerns the name of the Authority. "Radio Telefís Éireann", has been recommended by the Authority as a title which is more descriptive of a body which caters for both sound broadcasting—Radio Éireann and television broadcasting—Telefís Éireann.

As a general rule, a person may not be appointed an officer of the Authority except by public competition but no such requirement applies to the appointment of the Authority's servants. Exceptionally an officer may be promoted within the organisation but a servant could not become an officer unless he succeeded in a public competition. Section 4 seeks to right this discrimination against the subordinate grades who are, in effect, at present denied the chance of being promoted. Promotions from servant to officer positions would be by limited competition, in line with Civil Service practice.

Two of the three minor changes proposed under section 5 are intended to remove some overlapping in the wording of the functions of the Authority and to clarify the position in regard to its business dealings with other broadcasting organisations. The third change authorises the Authority, subject to the consent of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, to act as agent for a Government Department as it does in regard to Telefís Scoile

Under section 25 of the 1960 Act a commercial auditor could be appointed to audit the Authority's annual accounts. In view of the heavy existing and potential investment of State funds in the Authority it is considered that the C. & A.G. should continue to audit the accounts and specific provision to this effect is contained in section 6.

The small number of changes proposed in this Bill is a clear indication that the Act of 1960 was well drafted, and all who took part in that work deserve to be congratulated. In this connection I would like to recall that the Bill setting up the Broadcasting Authority was introduced in Seanad Éireann.

Senators will be well aware of the progress which the Authority has made since its establishment. Apart from the wide publicity which its activities receive, copies of each of its five annual reports and statements of accounts have been laid before this House under sections 25 and 26 of the 1960 Act. Moreover, the Seanad had an opportunity of discussing the Authority's affairs in February, 1964 when a Bill was passed to provide additional funds for its capital development. In the circumstances and as the primary purpose of the Bill is to provide for the payment of grants, I shall confine the rest of my remarks to financial matters.

The television service has been a financial success practically from the beginning. The first television transmissions from Kippure took place on 31st December, 1961. In 1962-63, the first full year of operation, the deficit on television was £17,000 but the surpluses in the following years were £259,000 and £539,000 respectively.

The 1960 Act provided for the payment of subsidies not exceeding £500,000 in all in aid of the finances of Sound Broadcasting. The full amount authorised was exhausted during 1963-64. In 1964-65 there was a deficit on Sound Broadcasting of £166,000 against the surplus on television of £539,000 or an overall surplus of £373,000 on both services. The Authority expects less favourable financial results in future.

The Authority has been able to finance much of its capital expenditure during the past few years from the surpluses realised on the television service. No advance has been made to it from the Exchequer since February, 1964. Its total indebtedness to the State at present amounts to £2,065,000 made up of £1,816,000 repayable Exchequer Advances and £249,000 in respect of property etc., transferred to it on the establishment day. The Act of 1964 authorised £1 million for capital purposes and this together with a balance of £184,000 from the £2 million provided in the Principal Act is still available.

The Authority has incurred or is committed to capital expenditure of the order of £3½ million. Over the years immediately ahead further expenditure of about £2 million is envisaged including provision for development of the Donnybrook site to cater for sound broadcasting. Some increase in the present limit of £3 million for repayable Exchequer Advances may be necessary eventually, but sufficient funds for capital development will be available to the Authority for a few years at least. It is not, of course, yet in a position to repay any part of its indebtedness to the State.

I understand that the first transmitter in a national VHF transmitter network will be on the air about the end of April and it is hoped to have all the main transmitters working by next Autumn. This should result in a welcome improvement in sound broadcasting coverage but the costs will add to the deficit on Sound Broadcasting and must be made good out of general revenue.

Last February the Authority sent me its recommendations for other improvements in the radio service including the introduction of day-long broadcasting. These recommendations would have involved a substantial increase in the sound licence fee, an increase which I could not support in view of the Government's price stabilisation policy. I have, therefore, deferred further consideration of the proposals for the present.

I need hardly say that this Bill does not impair the freedom which the Authority enjoys in regard to programmes and matters of day to day administration and that the power of intervention by the Minister or Government will continue to be confined to those matters where the public interest must be safeguarded. I think it is fair to say that, on the whole, Telefís Éireann and Radio Éireann have given general satisfaction. I feel sure that most Senators will agree that the Authority deserves to be congratulated on the way it has performed its functions and I confidently recommend this Bill to the Seanad.

The Minister's statement that Telefís Éireann and Radio Éireann have given general satisfaction is one which, I think, meets with fairly widespread agreement and the Dáil debate in which speakers expressed themselves in more favourable terms than previously reflects this. This is a performance which is satisfactory within certain limits however—limits imposed by the constitution of the Authority and the method of financing The fact that it is a commercial service does involve certain limitations. The rigidity of the timetabling which imposes, at times, irksome limits in regard to programmes which do not fit within the specific time brackets is one problem. The emphasis on TAM ratings which tend to increase popularisation and over-popularisation is certainly another problem. There is also this show business emphasis; the tendency to inflate show business personalities and to attribute to them an importance out of proportion to any reality or sound judgement. These are things which go with the fact that it is a commercial service and, I am afraid, we have to learn to live with them because to avoid it being a commercial service would treble the licence fee and no Party would contemplate that.

The programmes, particularly on the television side, have both strength and weaknesses. There is no doubt that the discussion programmes on television have had a healthy effect by opening up people's minds to new ideas. Even in this small country it is remarkable what closed minds people had and how little people knew of the attitudes and view of people in different parts of the world. These programmes have brought town and country together and helped to bridge that gap. On the religious side, they have also helped to bring Catholics and Protestants together and have acted as a strong ecumenical influence during these recent years.

Other programmes—such as "News-beat" and "1966"—perform a most useful function which was not being carried out before and you have programmes like Telefís Scoile. The series of lectures on history which are being carried on at the moment and which are really excellent, make one wish that these were a regular series.

There are weaknesses which it is worth drawing attention to. I do not propose to go into detail on programmes. I think one of the weaknesses of Dáil debates is that the speakers tend to develop personal preferences which are not of widespread national interest. But, there are one or two general points worth mentioning. The news service is one thing which is specially deficient and this does not seem to have been discussed before. We do not have—despite the fact that this is now a very substantial organisation, with substantial resources and a substantial surplus—regular correspondents on our radio and television service outside Ireland bringing us the news and comment on the news from the principal countries of the world, as seen from an Irish angle and interpreted in a manner likely to interest our people and help them to understand what is going on elsewhere. When this has been done ad hoc such as at the United Nations, the Council in Rome and so on, it has been done excellently and has added a new dimension to our understanding of the world outside. But it is a remarkable thing that we are content to take our knowledge of what is happening in the world outside from agencies which are not Irish and which, in some cases, present the news in a manner which is unsatisfactory to viewers and listeners here who have particular interest in various aspects of the world outside. I cannot understand how we can be satisfied with this.

Our newspapers are in a similar position but their resources are limited. It is very difficult for a newspaper here to finance regular foreign correspondents but, in the case of Telefís Éireann and Radio Éireann, ten per cent of the joint service would provide us with half a dozen regular foreign correspondents in the principal capitals— London, Paris, Bonn, Rome, New York and Washington.

And Moscow.

In view of the difficulties involved, I decided not to mention Moscow. But I think this point should be pressed. I feel strongly about it and I think it is surprising that we are content to take such a provincial attitude on newsagency reports from outside. Unless it is the Council in Rome, the Irish doing something in the United Nations in New York or in Cyprus, we have no interest in direct reporting. I think the resources are there to finance this.

One other minor crib in regard to the news service is the practice which they persist in of referring to the Northern part of the country as the Six Counties, despite the direction given by the Taoiseach about four years ago and despite the fact that the Government Information Bureau, I understand, advised them that the use of the Six Counties was no longer desirable. They have persisted in using this reference which is not Government policy at the moment and which is certainly not the policy of the Opposition. This is something to which some attention could be directed. At a time when we are trying to achieve better relations with the North for a Government service to gratuitously insult that part of the country with this reference, when it is no longer Government policy today or the policy of the Government for so many years, is quite unnecessary. I think they ought to fall in line with ecumenical attitudes on our programmes on political matters as well as religious matters.

I should like to deal also with the question of political coverage. First of all compared with, for example, the coverage of British political affairs on BBC and ITV, the coverage given here is very indirect. It is good in many ways but the matters debated in the Dáil and Seanad are not presented by the protagonists or discussed by the people who are concerned. We are told what they said at second hand and their views are then discussed by political correspondents who are experts on these matters.

Sometimes this works very badly as in the case of the announcement of the Free Trade Area. When that happened the five correspondents agreed it was marvellous, before they thought about it, and they said so three nights running on television. They did not alert the people to the fact that there were two sides to it, and that while a case could be made that it was a good agreement, problems were created by it. That was glossed over. If, in fact, this issue had been discussed on television by representatives of the political Parties, both sides of the case would have been heard. I do not think any Party would have wished to come out strongly one way or the other, but the fact that there were problems that could arise would have been put across to the people. It is unsatisfactory that politics is given at entirely second hand. The coverage, which is good in itself, is second hand coverage. It is extremely good, but it is second hand.

The other form of political broadcasting which is of limited value to the public and of extremely limited interest is the Open House discussion. This has not been a great success, I think. The reason why political coverage takes this form, and why we do not have something more extensive, appears partly to arise from the interpretation — I would be inclined to use the word "misinterpretation"— of the Act in this regard. I am referring to the Principal Act. Section 18 of the Principal Act provides:

It shall be the duty of the Authority to secure that, when it broadcasts any information, news or feature which relates to matters of public controversy or is the subject of current public debate, the information, news or feature is presented objectively and impartially and without any expression of the Authority's own views.

That sounds grand. It was obviously put in for a proper purpose, but it has been interpreted by the Authority as meaning that a controversial issue cannot be presented by anyone associated with it, unless at the same time, and on the same programme, someone is there to say the opposite.

It seems to me that the Act is being interpreted very strictly by the Authority. We should be glad that these type of clauses are strictly interpreted in principle, but I think this interpretation goes beyond the intention of the Dáil and Seanad when they were legislating on this matter originally. I think this is something that we could look at in this House. The Authority seems to interpret this as if everyone involved in the field of politics should be marked, like players on a football team, by someone from the opposite side. Where a discussion takes place on television on matters of public interest, economic, social or cultural, it seems as if anyone can participate in those discussions except politicians. We are the pariahs. We are people apart when any serious issue comes up for discussion on television. You can have journalists, university lecturers and all kinds of people so long as they are not politicians. We cannot intrude because we would introduce Party politics. They seem to be afraid that we would fight.

That is a most retrogressive policy and I do not think this interpretation was intended by the Dáil or the Seanad. I appreciate why the Authority interpret the Act strictly, but I think they are going beyond the correct interpretation of it. We should help them to take a broader view by making the necessary change so that their job will be to ensure that over a period these programmes are balanced, and that if there is a Labour Deputy or Senator on a television discussion on three or four occasions, there will be a proper proportion of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil Deputies and Senators over the following period. If there is a controversy it appears as if politicians cannot make a contribution to the topic in their own right. That is bad for politicians and I do not think it is necessary. I think serious consideration should be given to that.

In the presentation of the political activities in the Dáil and Seanad there should be direct participation by Deputies and Senators in the discussions at the end of the week when these matters come under discussion, and they should be asked to state the viewpoint they put forward in either House, and he cross-questioned on that viewpoint by the political journalists. To leave the discussions on current issues in the Dáil and Seanad entirely to the political journalists seems to be a mistake from every point of view.

There is one other point about the presentation of politics. I think it is right to say that the actual time given to this presentation of what happens in the Dáil and Seanad is significantly shorter on television than it is on radio. On television it is about six or seven minutes as distinct from the 15 minutes that is given nightly on the radio. In the nature of things, because the Minister is the principal protagonist, this tends to be unfair to the Opposition, not intentionally, I am sure but because the time is not sufficient to present the alternative viewpoint.

I should like to deal now with a matter which has arisen since this Bill was debated in the Dáil. It seems to be a matter of concern which is appropriate to be aired in this House. Free speech is one of the most fundamental rights in any country and is something about which we should always be jealous. Section 17 of the original Act may seem harmless enough but it seems to leave the way open for an infringement of the right of free speech which is entirely out of place in a democratic society. The section reads:

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

What are our national aims? Who decides them? Where are they to be found in legislation, or in the Articles of the Constitution? Where are our national aims laid down? This seems to be open to the creation of a distinct bias against the presentation of viewpoints sincerely and legitimately held by a minority, and perhaps by a majority of our people. My fears on this score did not fructify on the whole in the years in between, but I want to refer now to statements issued on 4th February. I was rather poor timing I thought because it was made within a few hours of the end of the Dáil debate on this subject. I thought it was a funny time for that statement to be issued. However, the Seanad had not yet discussed the matter.

A statement was issued that the Authority will ensure that no unbalanced discussions will take place on the national language aims. That is a terrifying statement to be issued by a public communications medium in a democratic country. Let us consider it: "...ensure that no unbalanced discussion will take place on the national language aims". First of all, how do you ensure that a discussion is not unbalanced? Does it mean that the existing policies in regard to reviving the Irish language are sacrosanct? Does it mean that the other viewpoint will not be represented at all? In fact, I do not know how else you could ensure that there was no unbalanced discussion. I was a participant in a discussion, and so was the Leader of the House, about a year ago.

That was no discussion.

We participated in that very vigorous discussion, and although I had been told beforehand that the different viewpoints would be fairly represented, in fact there were six protagonists, of whom five were strongly committed to the present policy and I was the sole survivor——

What about the clown?

Fortunately for me, I had the assistance of one other person present, Joe Lynch.

The discussion that ensued was one which from the viewpoint of the people associated with present policies was unbalanced because the two of us, mainly because of Joe Lynch, succeeded in making nonsense of the views of the other speakers, not because I showed any particular skill but because the part played by Joe Lynch was very effective.

He excelled himself in clowning.

The other five did not put their viewpoint as well as it could have been put, and indeed if I could have gone over to the other side I would have made a better job of it. There you had a discussion allowed with five to one and then another one added to make it five to two. You could not have gone to greater trouble to ensure a "balanced" discussion on the preservation of the national language aims. In fact, the discussion turned out, in the view of many sensible individuals who are antagonstic to present policies, to be most "unbalanced"—the other way! Future discussions may perhaps be more balanced by deciding to leave out FitzGerald and Lynch and stick to the other five!

I think it is intolerable that the television Authority, the Radio Éireann Authority, should so arrange matters that they will ensure in advance that the discussion will result in a particular viewpoint prevailing even though there are other viewpoints which may be widely held by a very large proportion of our people. There are, for example, a million people in Northern Ireland who have as much right to their viewpoint, but it will not be raised and heard down here.

How do you know that they are all against Irish?

I do not say that they are all against it. My mother, in fact, was one of the very small number of Northern Protestants who was a Nationalist at the time and she was conscious of the minority in which she stood throughout her life in that respect.

This is something we must deal with. I do not think we ought to leave on the Statute Book a clause which is now being misinterpreted in the manner in which quite clearly it has been misinterpreted.

There is the further question of deciding what the national aims mean. Supposing that 42 years ago at the time of the Home Rule controversy we had a local television service with some autonomy, which was under the authority of, say, the Irish county councils—the only native government agencies existing at that time. Because the national aim at that time was Home Rule, what would have happened to Pearse if he had attempted to present a viewpoint on television or radio which did not agree with the national aim as defined at that time?

He would have been excluded from the GPO.

Of course, they have since moved to Montrose, but it is a good point.

There are no such things as immutable national aims to be given expression to, although there may be national aims which the majority feel are proper at any given time, and in a democratic society it is the right of anybody to argue that this viewpoint should be changed and, therefore, it is appropriate that he should be allowed to argue it publicly. Any provision which requires a national communications authority to ensure that argument against those aims should not be put forward and that only the current viewpoint held allegedly by the majority of the people shall be put forward, and that all discussion shall be so organised in advance so that an alternative viewpoint shall not prevail by selecting only one viewpoint or selecting people to support a minority viewpoint with sufficient care to ensure that they will not be able to prevail against the others, is one which a democratic society ought not to tolerate. It is something we must look at very deviously.

This gives us an opportunity in this debate to consider the whole question of the rights of minorities, and the inadequate provision made for their representation because of their background. I happen to believe quite genuinely in this being a single country and I believe, therefore, that there are a million people in Northern Ireland whose viewpoint has a right to be heard and who should be represented, broadly speaking in a proportion of one to four, in any public discussion or controversy on matters of interest to the whole country. I know that this is not a widely held viewpoint, and, indeed, there are many people who would think that anybody who suggested that this million people in Northern Ireland have a right to have their viewpoint expressed in this part of the country should be regarded as engaging in some sort of treason. I think the Northern Unionists have this right and I do not think that sufficient is being done to ensure that it can be exercised. Radio Éireann and Telefís Éireann have made efforts to get outside the boundaries of this State and have interested themselves and the people in this part of the country in the problems of Northern Ireland. They have presented programmes on Northern Ireland, but they have presented them from the outside and are still in the position of occasionally sending their foreign correspondents into the wilds of Northern Ireland to interview the natives. This is not a national television service representing the whole people and giving to various minorities their fair representation. We have a long way to go before we achieve that. If we do achieve it then we will show that we have a genuine belief in the unity of the country.

Turning now to the question which was debated in the Dáil, the matter of the promotion of certain officers which was well discussed in the Dáil from the two sides, I think the balance of the arguments in favour of the change being made is the stronger one though one has some qualms about it. On the whole, the decision of the Dáil is one that we should support, though one would be anxious that vigilance should be maintained to ensure that the new arrangement is not being dealt with in the manner in which Deputy Dillon feared it might be.

There is, however, one other matter in regard to promotion arising out of the recent remarkable statement by the Radio Éireann Authority, which included the following: "Bilingualism for special jobs has to be obtained even if the capacity has to be required after recruitment." On the whole as it stands this statement is probably harmless enough because it seems to be clearly suggested that this requirement is for special jobs only. But one would like an assurance from the Minister that it will be confined to the jobs really concerned, and that people who have entered the Authority's employment without being required to be bilingual will not now be required, in order to secure the normal promotion in the line they are in, to acquire a capacity for Irish after recruitment, except where the promotional posts are special jobs, and it is obvious that there are special jobs within Telefís Éireann and Radio Éireann for which a knowledge of the Irish language would be essential. For any job it would be a help, and certainly this is something it is fair to bear in mind in appointing people, because people who do not know Irish would be at a disadvantage in some of their work. But making a definite requirement for appointment to particular positions should be looked at with care, because otherwise you are going to be unfair to people recruited without this requirement in the first instance. The statement does not define the particular type of special jobs so I am seeking a definition from the Minister.

There is one other question which I want to raise: That is the question of the right of members of the Government to intervene in relation to the broadcasting or non-broadcasting of material from Telefís Éireann and Radio Éireann. There have certainly been cases where individual Ministers have endeavoured to secure that particular matters shall not be broadcast. In some of those cases it may well be that the request that something should not be broadcast was made for genuine reasons of national interest. This can happen. I am thinking of one of several occasions when successful attempts were made to prevent the broadcasting of discussion programmes on the Nítrigin Éireann project before it was launched. On at least one of these occasions the reason given was that these broadcasts could interfere with the tenders which were out and so could do harm to the enterprise.

It is reasonable that in a case where there is a matter of genuine national interest involved, a Minister should be able to make a request and the authorities should accept it, but clearly it is a practice open to abuse which must be controlled as rigidly as it is in our power to control it. As the Act stands, there is provision for a request to be made by the Minister. He may direct or request in writing the authority from refraining to broadcast and the authority shall comply with the direction or request. The Minister may also direct the authority to broadcast announcements. The Act does not say that Ministers other than the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs may make a request nor indeed does it say the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs may make requests other than requests in writing. That is unsatisfactory.

Requests have been made by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and by other Ministers not in writing. In some cases they have been entertained, the Authority having used their judgment. In other cases they were rejected. In no case, however, has the Minister given a direction or made a request in writing. We must go beyond stating that the Minister may make a request in writing and that Ministers other than the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs may make requests. To put it the other way round, it should be stated that directions or requests from the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs or on behalf of any Minister should be made through the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs in writing and further that these directions and requests should be published in the Authority's annual report. Here one can see a difficulty. There could be a case that when the interval of time had elapsed between the time of the request being submitted and the publication of the annual report, something could occur against the national interest. One could imagine circumstances in regard to illegal activities where that might be the case. Therefore, I think it necessary that the Minister should have the right to certify that the publication of a direction or request in the annual report would be contrary to the national interest, and that certificate should be accepted when it is countersigned by members of the Opposition Parties. We need this certification to insulate the Authority.

I know the Act in its present form is an improvement on the Bill as originally drafted in which there was a provision that the Authority could publish a directive without the consent of the Minister. Fine Gael sought to remove the "consent of the Minister" portion and the Minister instead removed the clause in toto. As I have said, this is an improvment but I think we should go further and ensure that all directives or requests are published unless it is certified that it would be contrary to the national interest to publish them. We should endeavour to ensure at all times that the integrity of the Authority is maintained and not subjected to pressures or influences. One may accept that legitimate requests may be made to the Authority not to broadcast certain things. We must ensure that this is exercised properly, that it must be made known to the public subsequently after an interval of time, unless it is genuinely something where the national interest is at stake. Having said that, I shall reserve the right to raise some other matters on the Committee Stage. We do not propose to oppose the Second Reading of the Bill.

Both Dáil and Seanad to a great extent approve this amending Bill but I should not like it to be thought that that approval, as such, should be taken as a belief that Radio Éireann and Telefís Éireann have reached a stage where there is no need for improvement. There is the danger of a cosy after dinner outlook about the position of Telefís Éireann as a result of the Dáil debate. I should like to congratulate Senator FitzGerald on the bite he has put into this discussion which, in my opinion, is far ahead of the contributions in the other House of many of the people who took part in that debate.

I do not wish to be taken as saying there has not been any improvement in the Irish television service. I foresee the danger of our getting smug about it, particularly those responsible in Telefís Éireann. Because there is apparent agreement in this House about the quality of the programmes which we see, it does not follow there is agreement among the general public. I know of no more apathetic public than the Irish public. I know no public more prepared to lie down and forget about their rights than the Irish public. That feeling is quite apparent particularly when we come to discuss a body like Telefís Éireann.

Half the people of this country are limited to programmes from Telefís Éireann. That half, meaning no disrespect to them, are people with no experience of television other than Telefís Éireann and, therefore, they have no means of comparing Telefís Éireann programmes with those of any other television system. Are they really in a position to criticise? None of us can criticise unless we are in a position to assess the relative merits of Telefís Éireann and other television programmes. The other half of the country had access to two other television units before the advent of Telefís Éireann. By the turn of a knob they are now able to enjoy programmes from three stations. I should like to say now that I am sorry for the people in the country who are confined to one station.

The fact is that the half of our people who have no choice and no knowledge of other standards of television cannot be very critical of Telefís Éireann programmes. Perhaps now and again somebody from those areas will speak as authorities on television programmes and great heed will be paid to them in certain localities, but because they are people who have not a choice of a second or third channel and are, therefore, restricted from making an intelligent analysis based on what is to be seen on television by Irish people in other parts of the country, we will not get intelligent criticism. I do not wish to be taken as belittling the intelligence of these people. Some of the brainiest people in Ireland come from those areas. It is not their fault.

Let us consider the half where there is a choice. I have said before that the Irish public are apathetic. I think they are in so far as demanding their rights is concerned. If they find a Telefís Éireann programme is just not up to what they like they just switch over to UTV or the BBC and there the matter ends. Now and again an energetic person will get on the telephone to Telefís Éireann and say what he thinks of the programmes.

It could happen to a bishop.

Quite, but as far as expecting a lead from the general public is concerned, I am afraid we will not get it. In the area where there is a choice I am afraid they are prepared to take the easiest way out, that is to switch over to an alternative channel. At any rate, one half of the country, thanks be to God, has a choice. It is a great thing to have a choice just as in politics it is a great thing to have a choice. We are entitled to a choice in a democratic country.

Somebody has already stated elsewhere that the main function of our television service should be to entertain and amuse the people. That should be the prime objective. When Irish television was first introduced I spoke on this. I felt that was not the proper basis on which to start a station. I know what I said then carried little weight and I am sure it carries less now. I still have not changed my views with regard to it.

The Government had a great chance at the time in relation to part of the country at any rate to televise programmes of a high standard. Programmes can be interesting, instructive and entertaining without reaching the low standard which is aimed at at times in order just to meet a very broad section of public opinion. I believe the Government were not prepared to spend the necessary money to bring about that situation and to utilise television, which is a wonderful medium, to bring education, knowledge of different societies and of the world into the homes of the people. They were not prepared to utilise that golden opportunity because of the cost involved. They utilised the money which became available, through the commercial advertising system, to pay for a type of television service which carried with it the great faults associated with commercialism and few if any of the virtues which should be synonymous with a State company or authority.

When we deal with the very sore question of advertising I know we shall be told that the country cannot afford to run a television service without advertising. There is no point, at this stage, seeing that we are committed to it, to labour the fact that we took a wrong step in this regard. When we deal with advertising I believe that the Government and the Minister have a responsibility to ensure that this frightening weapon on television is not allowed the freedom which apparently is given to it today.

Television enters almost all our homes and where there are no television sets many people view the programmes elsewhere. When we find the skilful use made of this medium to advertise, for instance, various brands of cigarettes, which we know are looked on by the medical people as highly dangerous to health, we should pause and consider whether or not it is morally right to allow advertising on such a scale. I do not know what the figures are but I would like the Minister, if he is able to do so, to tell us what the total revenue is to Telefís Éireann from the advertising of cigarettes, tobacco and so forth. I am sure there is a tremendous revenue involved.

It is ten per cent.

What would that be in terms of money in the year?

It is more than £100,000.

Mr. Fitzgerald

It is cheaper than cigarettes.

Telefís Éireann get £100,000 from cigarette advertising. Would the Minister ever think of assessing the danger to the health of the community as represented by the expenditure of £100,000 on the advertising of cigarettes and tobacco? I do not intend to delay the House but the Department of Health and the Department of Education have a responsibility so far as children and teenagers are concerned. I have no intention of trying to address my remarks to people who are confirmed smokers. I know it is no good. I do not object to anybody smoking at any time. I smoked for years but I gave it up. I believe we should try to persuade the younger people, the teenagers, that cigarettes are not a sign or a symbol of manliness, of being with it or being grown up. In our television programmes that idea is skilfully put across with wonderful craftsmanship by the people concerned.

A Senator


There is a misdirected skill in getting at the youth of the country to persuade them that it is good, that it is healthy, cheap and so forth to smoke the various brands of cigarettes. The total revenue to Telefís Éireann for the damage done to the health of the youth of the country is £100,000. I think the State could well afford to give that £100,000 to Telefís Éireann and cut out the cigarette advertising. It would be money well spent by the State.

In Ireland we lag behind other countries in regard to cigarette advertising. I am sure the Minister knows, as well as I do, the efforts made in Britain to hold on to the advertising rights of television by the cigarette manufacturers. They are a strong interest in Britain but they fail in their campaign to prolong the life of cigarette advertising. This happened because public opinion in Britain is behind the Government to reduce, as far as possible, the inducement to the younger people to smoke.

Again, we in Ireland lag behind on the question of what public opinion can do. We are prepared to be apathetic all the time. There is no use in the Minister for Health sending circulars around to schools warning them against cigarette smoking and the danger to their health when another Minister allows a television programme to carry several minutes of advertising by various cigarette groups.

And the brewers.

I shall deal with that later. There was no point in the Minister for Health sending those circulars to schools. I said I would not deal in detail with that question.

Would the Senator cut out the drink too?

On the question of drink—which Senator Ó Maoláin kindly reminded me of—let me say, in this particular regard, I am sure people are bemused at times with the advertising which takes place on television with regard to the variety of drinks and how good are all these drinks. Quite a number of us have had heads now and again from the various brands of drink which are advertised but I do not think any Senator or Deputy ever needed the help of Telefís Éireann or any other advertising medium to make a particular drink attractive to him. It is an attraction in itself without bringing it to the notice, again, of the particular groups which are most likely to be influenced by television——

What about the youngsters?

We are talking here about balanced programmes and that is one of the aims Senator FitzGerald spoke about earlier on. When it comes to the question of drink, is there any balanced advertising, or is there any counter advertising allowed? Is there any question of, shall we say, a pioneer group coming on five minutes after a big television advertisement on drink and explaining the dangers, for the good of youth? They are not allowed to do it—if I may suggest—because Telefís Éireann were asked for authority and they refused point blank on the grounds that their book of rules prevented them from so doing. That applies to the advertising of drink and it applies also to the question of advertising cigarettes. I believe, if the balance is to be true; if you are not going to ban cigarettes, at least allow those other people to point out the danger of cigarette smoking.

Let me depart from the matter of advertising to deal with something else which I think needs criticism and that is, the question of political broadcasting. It has been dealt with by people in the Dáil and reference has already been made to it by the last speaker. I support what he said. I agree that as far as Telefís Éireann is concerned, it would appear that politics is something for juvenile delinquents. The programmes themselves are of a juvenile nature. The only two which come to my mind at the moment are, first "Open House"—and I think the less said about that the better. But one thing which always strikes me about that programme is—do they switch over to this American canned applause? I think that canned applause is interchangeable because after each unfortunate Deputy or Senator contributes, there is canned applause from the supporters of that individual.

It is not even balanced.

It depends, I suppose, on who has got the tickets going in. I do not think anybody could seriously suggest that that is a mature type of programme. I am not in any way criticising the Deputies or Senators who take part but I think the public representatives who do take part are under a severe handicap in the setup and in the atmosphere in which the programme takes place. I think they ought to be very careful to present——

And so they are careful.

I agree; with the result that the programmes are frustrating.

The other programme which deals with politics on Telefís Éireann is known as "The Hurler on the Ditch". That is precisely what it is—the hurler on the ditch. Nobody could seriously suggest that they are dealing with serious politics, as thought out by the Deputies and Senators. What actually happens on that programme—and I must say I look at it and often get blood pressure when I do so—is that these men, first-class political correspondents, have persisted in acting as the Taoiseach, as the Tánaiste, as the Leader of all the Parties and as the various Deputies and Senators and have, in fact, put on the mantle of the particular individual whom they have in mind at the time. In the course of that, what do we get—the views of the particular political correspondents coming over in the guise of what they think the particular Deputy or Senator had in mind? That is my interpretation of what takes place. It is not the fault of the journalists; it is the fault of the people who present that type of programme and who allow the journalists to be sandwiched between the actual competitors, who are Members of both Houses. If we have any regard for politics at all, the people who should present politics to the public are the politicians themselves.

There is another way to go about that—it may not be strictly desirable that it should be left entirely to the politicians—but I would say, in this field of politics, we have got to learn from our neighbouring systems. It is enlightening at times to see what a skilled interviewer or commentator can do when he gets talking to a political personality. When that happens it is good for the politician and it is certainly good for the general public. The type of confrontation which takes place between the trained political correspondent and the politician on the BBC and UTV is sadly lacking here. I think we are mature enough to have it. We can learn a lot about the technique of interviewing and so forth from the neighbouring groups. I suggest that Telefís Éireann should select people who are promising in that regard and send them over there for training, then let them come back and put into operation the skills they will have learned in a short time on these other channels.

Even when it comes to the question of so-called economic experts, analysts of various subjects, discussing matters, again, we seem to find that they are very lukewarm in their approach to analysing the question. Senator FitzGerald referred to a panel which discussed the recent Trade Agreement. They gave practically a one-sided version. I should like to refer to one specific interview I looked at and which, I think, was carried out by four economists—an interview with the Taoiseach on his return from London. As far as I recollect, the interview took about three-quarters of an hour, in the course of which they lent over backwards for fear they would ask an awkward question. In the course of that interview one economist asked the following question: "Tell me, Taoiseach, having dealt with all the good that this country has got and all the good which is coming, what did Britain get out of this Agreement?" I thought it was an excellent question, and I sat back in anticipation of a reply from the Taoiseach. I must say he never batted an eye, but leaned forward —I thought he was coming out of the set—and in his most fatherly fashion spent the next ten minutes telling us everything but what he was asked.

He did mention Sir George Woolley.

He spent nearly seven minutes going over the whole details in the most confidential and fatherly fashion. When he had finished, if that interviewer had been doing his work he would have brought the Taoiseach back and asked him: "What did Britain get out of it?" So far as interviewing is concerned we have always let the fish off the hook.

A "quare" fish.

It was a "quare" fish he was dealing with, and that is all the more reason why he should have been kept on the hook a little longer.

In fairness to the profession, only one of the interviewers was an economist.

I do not know whether that is correct.

I am telling the Senator.

I know that on the whole they brought out very few of the snags in the Trade Agreement, and did not show them as such to the public.

I do not know whether the intention is to take my motion this evening, or tomorrow, or when. I am sorry I was a few minutes late.

The intention is not to take it this evening.

Are we meeting tomorrow?

It depends on this Bill.

By the look of it we shall. Has the Leader of the House any further intentions? I am sure they are all honourable.

No dishonourable intentions.

As this motion was first proposed on 24th November it should really be concluded. It would not take more than three or four hours.

I agree it should be concluded.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

This is a matter for the House. So far as the Chair is concerned, Nos. 1 to 4 on the Order Paper were ordered, and that is all the business that can be taken today.

Sitting suspended at 6 o'clock and resumed at 7.15.

I was dealing before the House rose with the standard of political discussions and debates on Telefís Éireann. I am finished with that except to suggest again that we could learn from our neighbours on this matter as far as the techniques of interviewing are concerned. Even on that alone we have a good example with one particular programme on Telefís Éireann of how thorny or delicate subjects can be discussed quite openly and with sufficient discretion at the same time. I refer to the Teen-Talk programme. There is an example of a debate set in that programme which could well be followed by the more senior or shall I say alleged more mature people in the political field.

Returning for a moment to the question of advertising, there is a point I would like to throw out here when equal opportunities are given to foreign firms to advertise on Telefís Éireann. I understand from the Minister that these firms pay more for the same amount of time for advertising than the Irish firm. If that is the case——

Only if the Irish firms are advertising Irish products.

That makes the case even worse in this sense, that though you have the buy Irish programme on Telefís Éireann asking people seriously to buy Irish products followed immediately afterwards by an advertisement extolling the attractive qualities of a product made outside the country, it is rather confusing to the Irish person when equal opportunities are given, although preference is asked for the Irish product by an Irish group set up for the purpose of putting the Irish product to the fore.

Admittedly, the acceptance of outside advertising gives revenue to Telefís Éireann, but let us consider perhaps the position of two groups of firms, a group of Irish firms advertising who pay approximately £100,000 to advertise X product made in Ireland, and a group of outside firms spending the same amount to advertise the same product made outside the country. Telefís Éireann will make money on both but it is possible that the advertising campaign for the product made outside Ireland will switch the purchasers of £500,000 worth of goods made in Irish factories to the product made outside the country. It is a sobering thought which we should consider. On the other hand, under the new Trade Agreement that position will be reviewed in July. I may be wrong but I believe that from July on we cannot give preference in our advertising to home goods. That is something that will affect home producers and the workers who produce Irish made goods. It is something we will have to consider in the very near future if we are to help Irish producers and Irish workers to keep their jobs here.

Another important matter I should like to mention is the question of recruitment and promotion within Telefís Éireann. If we could at this stage, we should get away from the claptrap about officer and servant segregation that has obtained during the years in the Civil Service. I do not like the description. I shall not offer an alternative at the moment but it is something to be borne in mind by the Minister in dealing with a fairly new body such as Telefís Éireann.

In section 7 there are rules governing the employment of staff. I should like the Minister at this stage to consider a matter which is of great interest to professional men and technicians— the possibility of having interchangeability of employment in State bodies. As it stands at the moment, if a man is on a permanent basis as a technician or engineer in Telefís Éireann and he wishes to transfer to another State body like the ESB, Bord na Móna or the Board of Works he cannot carry his service in Telefís Éireann to the other body. There are many people in the other services attracted to Telefís Éireann, technicians particularly. If they leave the ESB, for instance, they lose their service in the ESB even when they go into established service in Telefís Éireann, whereas service in the ESB or any State body should be allowed for superannuation purposes. Through that type of interchangeability we could achieve the highest standards of skill and would be putting square pegs into square holes. Very often it would be a God-send to one service if a certain individual looked for a transfer where his gifts would be truly appreciated and where he would be a happier man.

On the question of promotion from the ranks, I am all for it but I should not like to consider it as a backdoor method for allowing in pals, first as unestablished people and later established. We know the people who run Telefís Éireann are not babes in the wood. I shall not go further than that except to say the system could be abused. A number of pets could be brought in on a temporary basis and when the row had died down they could use the machinery of the Civil Service to become established. That kind of thing is a danger which is hidden when one simply says: "We are only promoting from the ranks." Such people should have come in originally through some form of open competition. That is where the weakness in the system lies and I suggest the Minister should bear it in mind.

I appeal to the Minister to encourage more co-operation with the channels which operate in the separated part of Ireland. It has been pointed out that there has been a certain meeting of minds in recent years. There is more of a get-together spirit, of a realisation that we are all human beings, all Irish and that certain elements in this country have not the right to lay down the guidelines of advance for this country. Certain interests in the 26 Counties cannot lay down for the next 50 years what makes a good Irishman or what meets the peak of perfection as far as our standards are concerned. I think the one-fourth of our people who are cut off at the moment must be given their fair share in any consultation, or what I should call a dialogue, which should be taking place now. Television would, to my mind, provide one of the most influential means by which a meeting of minds could be brought about. When I say a meeting of minds, I want to make it quite clear that I think there are many problems which are hidden here. They are problems which I can only describe as being swept under clerical skirts at the moment and nobody is prepared to have them debated. We should have many discussions on those matters with people whose views differ from ours but who are still Irish and who we hope, in the not too distant future, will come much closer to us on an economic and political basis. I think the economic basis will be closer than the political basis.

I am referring to the different views which are held by a large section of Irishmen on the Irish language and its actual place in the Ireland of the future. There is a small group here who like to dictate policy on the language and who think they will be allowed to make the policy for the entire country. That cannot be tolerated and those of us who have views on that should express them. At least, the minority have a right, if we are serious about giving them fair play, to say what they think on censorship. We should have a discussion on the various channels on this question of censorship which is of vital importance if we are to have Irishmen with minds which are open and who are not afraid to speak their minds. The questions of divorce, birth control and other such issues must be discussed here between the north and the south. We cannot just pretend that what we believe in must be accepted completely by the people in the North of Ireland, who, at the moment, have a different outlook from ours.

There is only one way to realise what those problems are and how to deal with them and that is by sensible and frank discussion with all concerned. If we are going to live together in any fashion, as far as Christian justice and charity are concerned, we must learn to grow up together. That is all I have got to say on this issue for the present. I am prepared to accept that, at the moment, Telefís Éireann has improved considerably from what it was in the beginning. I would like the Minister to bear in mind the serious damage that is being done especially to the advertising campaign. I would urge on him not to make the money raised from advertising the reason why his hands are tied when he wishes to make certain decisions of long term benefit to the community as a whole. There is no doubt that the revenue from advertising sources seems to be the controlling factor as far as programmes are concerned and the direction in which Telefés Éireann is proceeding. I think for the sake of the amount of money involved that is a wrong principle to establish and the sooner we break away from it the better.

I welcome the opportunity, firstly, of taking part in this debate because I feel it has been very constructive up to this point— I hope to continue in the same vein— and, secondly, of associating myself with the remarks which, by and large, have commended the television and radio authority particularly for the work they have done in recent years. I feel, like the other speakers, that I am justified in confining my remarks almost entirely to the television side in that I think we are dealing with a new medium, a medium which appears to have, as I might say, invaded the lives of the people in a way in which sound radio never could.

I am no expert on the effects of either of the media but I feel that a major factor in favour of the influences of television is that one has an opportunity of assessing the personality almost as if he were physically present, rather than merely hearing a voice and not being able to balance one's views in regard to the delivery also. Some of the remarks which I will make could scarcely relate to the sound broadcasting side of the Bill before us this evening because, in fact, I think, in all fairness, radio programmes are already catering for the type of thing that I would like to see the television programmes invading.

Before I come on to make what I think are one or two constructive suggestions, I would like to make reference to what Senator FitzGerald expressed some concern about. The first is in connection with section 17 of the Broadcasting Act, 1960, which says that:

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

Unlike Senator FitzGerald, I do not see that section as being an exclusive definition of what our national aims are. I do not see it as defining once and for all what are the national aims of this country. In fact, I see it as merely referring to some of our national aims which can be most effectively found in sound, or as it now happens, in television broadcasting.

Anybody obviously will agree that we have other national aims. I think we must have, beyond that of restoring the Irish language and preserving and developing the national culture, praiseworthy as it is, aims of industrial development and aims of social betterment of the community, and to make better use of them than has hitherto been made by many of our people. We have so many national aims that I fail to see that they are all being interpreted and defined here. That is slightly wide of the mark. I feel the Authority are being asked to bear in mind the aims of restoring the language and developing the culture of the country, which can be very effectively done both in sound broadcasting and in television because those are matters which they are required to bear constantly in mind. That is, in fact, what it says—"shall bear constantly in mind and shall endeavour to promote," nothing more than that. I do not see in this an insidious attempt and, if I did, I would certainly express the same anxiety as Senator FitzGerald. No group, however well-meaning their intention, should be allowed to impose their views on others who do not share them, or should be given the service as an instrument for doing so.

I feel that in referring to a particular debate which, apparently, he himself took part in he showed fairly effectively —if what he said is quite accurate— in that particular case that those who would have questioned the national aim of restoring the Irish language came off very well and have had a very effective opportunity of expressing their views. In this obviously the legislature are endeavouring to set guidelines of principle rather than to be strict or to inhibit in any way the further development of any national aims. This is one man's interpretation of it but it is an interpretation which I feel is the only sensible one which can be put on the section.

As to section 18, I feel that here he and Senator McQuillan have certainly pointed to a matter which, so far, has been rather sadly neglected in our broadcasting, either television or sound broadcasting. They have both made the case very well. I do not have to go any further, except to also reiterate that the politician and the man engaged in public affairs, should both have the right and responsibility of appearing not merely on political platforms or in a particular refrigerator so to speak; they should be placed face to face with people from other vocations, with people whose interests should coincide with theirs, with others whose views may differ from theirs and they should, in fact, have an opportunity of expressing and testing their views in the light of such opposition. I can appreciate the strong criticisms which would be levelled against the Television Authority for endeavouring to implement what I would regard as such an enlightened policy. I can, unfortunately, imagine some of our politicians, some of ourselves so to speak, taking the opportunity of raising the issue that more time was being allowed to the representatives of one Party than to the representatives of another. But I think any person would certainly agree that we should recommend to the Television Authority that public figures be given an opportunity of taking part in discussions which are not confined to public figures themselves. I am not sure that this has not, in fact, been done.

Senator FitzGerald, before he became a member of this House and I presume while he was at all times a member of the Fine Gael Party, had many an opportunity of expressing his views on Telefís Éireann. I presume his views changed in no way whatever when he became a Member of this House. His views should have been political views, because a member of a political Party who believes in that Party's policy must always, I feel, in honesty and principle do what he can to further the aims of that Party. I presume Senator FitzGerald will admit that though he was not, at the time, a Member of this House, on his many appearances on Telefís Éireann he had that fact in mind himself. I should like to go as far as he himself would go in saying that Members of either House should be given the same opportunity for comparison purposes as he was given before becoming a Member of this House.

The major fear which faces us in dealing with this new television medium is, as Senator McQuillan has pointed out, that it is a very new medium, a monster, a new phenomenon to most of us. To that extent, we tend to stand in awe of what is said on television, what is done on television. The views, unreasonable or reasonable, which may be expressed from any television forum are something for which I feel the Television Authority should be held responsible. This is, unfortunately—as of now—a characteristic of our own rather sheltered thinking. I have been somewhat disappointed at the uncritical attitude which the general viewing public has to programmes which they see on Telefís Éireann; particularly in regard to the views they hear expressed. Now I do not here argue for or against any of the views expressed but what I do argue against is absolute swallowing wholly and entirely as the last gospel the words heard last night on such a show or what So-and-So said last night on such a programme. If the particular person or particular panel were suddenly transported from the box into the realm of reality, the words expressed or which appeared to be an expression of infallibility in the television box would be robbed of all this impression when exposed to reality. It is not for me, or anybody else, to say why this is so. The fact is this is so and I dare say that if the proceedings of this House were televised we would probably get a more attentive audience and would be accepted more uncritically than we would be by a person who happened to come into the House and listened to the actual contributions we had to make.

In this regard, I feel the Television Authority must show a great sense of responsibility to the people at large, to present only the type of personalities, ideas, or entertainment for that matter, worthy of further dissemination and not personalities who may have a slick way of passing a phrase or the catchy way of hanging a fringe, or whatever it happens to be, because I am afraid in this, as in many other things, we must be protected against our own immaturity.

On many occasions, indeed, very soon after the Television Authority first came on the air, I was appalled at the suffocation of ideas which suddenly occurred throughout the country in places where previously one had an opportunity of listening to small parliamentarians and would-be Taoiseachs. I speak, of course, of the publichouses and the meeting places throughout the country where the would-be governors of Ireland and all these reformers exercised their own constructive ideas like some party show from Hollywood or something of that nature. The breakthrough had been made and I feel, now that it has been made, we must almost rely on the Television Authority to save us from what could be an almost complete suffocation of any constructive thinking on the part of the Irish viewer. In this I said originally that the suggestions I would make, the criticisms I would have to offer could scarcely be levelled against radio.

I might point very briefly to some factors which I feel would arouse a more critical and constructive attitude on the part of the viewer, programmes which would not allow him to sit back and gape but which would stimulate his thinking and end with the question: "What do you think? Do you wish to have an opportunity of studying the topic discussed this evening? Do not accept as gospel the expert views of the economist or whoever it happened to be. Go and inquire for yourself."

This would be a very commendable innovation. The Television Authority could also introduce to the viewers some of the recent publications in the various fields, be they political, economic, fiction, or otherwise. It might be possible to invite the authors of the books or articles to come on television and to give an idea of what they were trying to convey, to invite them to say: "I have tried to convey in this book the problems which I have tried to ease, or the social ills which I have tried to demonstrate". The Authority could then suggest to the viewer: "You have now heard A, B or C discussing the matters on which he has recently contributed. He has referred you to certain texts or books on which he has based his ideas. We invite you in a fortnight to submit your views based on the research which you have done. We invite you to examine the views he has expressed and to balance them against your own." In a fortnight's time some of the more critical letters might be assessed by the members of the panel.

I have no experience whatsoever of television broadcasting but I feel that the attraction of people hearing their own views criticised constructively on television would be a stimulus which our television programmes badly need. I have spoken particularly about books but the same thing would apply to music, matters of Irish culture, and our national aims. Programmes could be devised which would be more inclined to arouse this type of response from viewers.

The problems and growing-pains which we suffer here in the field of television as in every other field have been suffered in other countries too. Much can be gained from inviting people from outside who are conversant with these problems—the problems of industrial strikes, for example —to discuss these matters and indicate what the reaction has been in Italy, Germany or any other country. I need hardly labour the point by referring to other programmes. This could be extended ad infinitum. I plead not so much for more enlightened programmes but for more enlightened viewers, and the responsibility for this lies to a certain extent with the Authority.

I agree with what Senator McQuillan said about what have been so effectively called our hidden persuaders— the advertising campaigns which are directed to sweeping one off one's feet. This again is connected with what I have already mentioned. There is an uncritical acceptance even of the advertisements one sees on television. I appreciate that a large source of television revenue comes from cigarette advertising. In fact, I think the Minister may point out that the figure is in excess of £100,000. If that is so, we must all readily agree that it would take a major readjustment on the part of the Television Authority to restrict the amount of cigarette advertising. In common with the former Minister for Health in particular I think this should be done. It might have to be restricted by degrees. The cigarette companies themselves might be the last people to complain about this restriction. This was the same in the case of hoardings. The television advertisers, like the people who give stamps, are obliged to vie with each other to contribute this extra £100,000, and more, of which the Authority might not otherwise have the benefit. Perhaps I am living in cloud cuckooland, but I think the Minister should recommend some positive steps to decrease the very serious causes of a very serious illness—cancer of course.

I suppose we shall all agree that television as we have known it over the past five years since it was established here has given general satisfaction. Indeed, if I am interpreting Senator O'Kennedy correctly it is giving a great deal more satisfaction than he thinks it ought to.

There is no doubt that when the Bill to introduce television was introduced in this House originally, a great many people here and elsewhere were concerned and, indeed, were terrified at the prospect of introducing this enormous influence as we had no experience of what it might do. Looking back over the past five years I suppose we should be thankful that, broadly speaking, television has not proved an inimical influence in Irish affairs.

I remember, too, at the time the Bill was introduced, there was some concern as to whether we would have the technical staff available to put out a show on the air. It is greatly to the credit of the Authority that so far as the technical end of television is concerned, we have done a very good job. Apparently we have collected the proper kind of equipment and got things going in that way. I think it is correct to say that the number of breakdowns of transmission by Telefís Éireann has been as few, as, say, on the BBC or UTV. There are apparently inevitable breakdowns but on that aspect it is a matter for some congratulation to Telefís Éireann to know that in what must have been a relatively new field we have achieved marked distinction.

There has been since the beginning and I think there still is as far as reception is concerned—and I would like to hear the Minister on this—the problem of ghosting in some areas. I suffer from that problem at home, and I may not be as regular a viewer of Telefís Éireann for that reason as I otherwise would be. To some extent in the Goatstown and Dundrum district where I live that problem has been tackled and pretty well eliminated, but I am wondering whether there is any prospect of any further effort which will give a picture without this distortion of line. I remember that at an earlier stage—perhaps the Minister might get this out of the way too—there were some areas where Telefís Éireann was not been received at all. That apparently was a technical problem and I would be happy to think that it has been resolved satisfactorily.

There remains the last technical problem from the point of view of the viewers, and that is local interference by people who have not suppressors on certain kinds of electrical equipment. I have referred this matter to Telefís Éireann on occasion, and I quite understand that the problem is not an easy one to deal with, but it is extremely unfair to some person viewing when a local wants to turn on a lathe or something of that kind at all hours of the night. When he does that his neighbours around him are left in the position where they cannot look at their television set. That can become very irritating when you want to view a particular programme. I wonder who has the responsibility for eliminating that. I know that there is from time to time a drive made by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs warning people to fit suppressors, but I think there should be a more consistent campaign to deal with that problem and try to foster an opinion among people that perhaps they may have fitted suppressors at one time but they require to be looked into and readjusted.

So much for the narrow technical side of television. I think that the Television Authority would not thank us at all if we were to acquiesce uncritically in the programmes they have been producing, nor on the other hand, would they thank us if we were to criticise them unduly harshly or unfairly for what they have been doing and attempting to do. One thing we can say about television is that there has been a marked improvement in the programmes and in the whole layout of television since the appointment of the present Director General. I have never met him and do not know anything about him beyond that he has made a most outstanding success in other fields of activity and I think that he promises fair to continue to make equal success in his present position.

In considering the whole question of television we can think of it in terms of being a means of entertainment, a means of forming and informing public opinion, and as a means or medium of education. I propose to deal with each of these three headings.

Senator McQuillan deplored the idea that television should be regarded merely as a means of entertainment. If entertainment from the point of view of singing and dancing and so on were to be the sole object of television that should be deplored, but all the other programmes—the programmes they have had on travel, giving information and so on—are all entertainment in their own way. In the narrower field of entertainment it would probably be correct to say that Telefís Éireann has produced the proverbial curate's egg. It has its bad spots and its good spots. In general, it is a palatable enough production. In this regard it is correct to say that there has been, to my way of thinking at any rate, a marked improvement in the entertainment type of programme put out for children between the hours of five and seven o'clock in the evening especially between five and six. Some years ago there was altogether too much violence in the programmes produced, and the kind of violence forced one to consider twice whether children whose ideas and minds were being formed should be allowed to view the programmes. There has been a welcome addition by an increase in the number of cartoons and features of that kind being shown. In general, I think that one cannot say in relation to these programmes that there is a great deal one would fear from there, from the point of view of educating children. I rather think, however, that the kind of programme where children can be got to do something, the kind of programme that you have on "Blue Peter" on the BBC, where children are shown how to do things and to employ themselves, is too rare on Telefís Éireann at the present time. Since people are bound to become somewhat lazy mentally and otherwise because of the influence of television it is very desirable that children's inventive qualities should be developed and that the kind of competition that stimulates them into activity should be encouraged by Telefís Éireann. There was some time back a series of programmes by some person showing them how to draw and that kind of thing but I think that has gone and I rather regret it.

In general with regard to entertainment programmes the content of Irish talent on these programmes is much lower than one would wish. I had hoped—and I am sure that my hope was shared by many people—that when Telefís Éireann became a reality we would have an opportunity of seeing quite frequently plays put on in which one would find the very best actors taking part. I think it is correct to say that apart from a very few plays the actors on the television at the present time, with very rare exceptions, are all second class. It is regrettable that plays, and the serial type of programme equally, and the kind of special programme put out with Irish actors are made in this way. There have been good actors on occasion such as a man called Jim Norton who I think has gone to England somewhere. I think that perhaps Telefís Éireann might consider using some of their surplus, of which they seem to have a fair share after they have liquidated their loan from the State and provided the new services such as Senator FitzGerald has advocated, in recruiting and holding better types of actors than are available to them at the moment. I do not think that Telefís Éireann has got anything like the reservoir of acting ability that Radio Éireann has in its repertory company, because the repertory company in Radio Éireann is immeasurably superior to the floating population that is available to Telefís Éireann. If it were at all possible to establish the equivalent in Telefís Éireann of the Radio Éireann Repertory Company that should be done.

There are other problems which are associated with putting on live shows, and, indeed, the experience of the Late Late Show recently illustrated that. I do not want to make very much comment upon that particular performance or show. Suffice it to say that what passes as all right in private company or in a small hall is not good enough, quite frequently, for a national broadcasting company, and that is something which it is constantly necessary for the producers of shows of that kind to bear in mind. This small talk, the joke that will pass muster in a small theatre, will not do on Telefís Éireann.

In connection with the recent incident, the unfunny incident, which has been the subject of some public comment, the fault lies not with the actual participant who was guilty of the bloomer but with whoever devised the question which should never have been asked. If it had not been asked, no difficulty would have arisen. That question was made out in a moment of sobriety, when its deviser had time to think. If producers do that, take that time, these problems will not arise. It is very desirable in relation to that show to realise that what is being used is public money and public time and that it will not do to use public money to put on the proprietor of the Bunny Girls or things of that kind.

(Longford): I understand that the time is sold to an advertiser.

The Late Late Show?

(Longford): The time immediately before and after it is sold.

This kind of line may be all right in its own way but for a national broadcasting system this kind of near the borderline activity will not do. I regret that that kind of thinking is developing. I take it that recent pronouncements and objections by different people to this kind of thinking springs from the feeling that he who contempteth small things shall fall by little and little and that, generally, people will become acclimatised to this new low norm. If Senator O'Kennedy is correct—I think his principles are correct—in time that will become the fashion. It is right and proper that from time to time Telefís Éireann should engage in the kind of activity we engage in as private individuals—go on retreat, have a look at themselves, see if they are keeping up to the standard required and if not, make the appropriate adjustments. I hope incidents of this kind will not arise again and create a lot of fuss which should not arise if people observed proper standards.

Another criticism I have to make of Telefís Éireann is that their technique of interviewing is quite deplorable. I remember a person being interviewed, a person who was a Parliamentary Secretary. He was asked: "Well, Mr. X, was it your opinion that when the Taoiseach spoke in the House this evening, he imparted to the House and the country the knowledge that if it were intended to have increased social welfare benefits it would be necessary to provide taxation commensurate with these increases?" and the Parliamentary Secretary, basking in the glare of the camera, said: "Yes". The questioner continued: "Did the Taoiseach not go on further to say that if it were necessary to obtain that money by way of turnover tax, this was the most appropriate tax in our circumstances?" The Parliamentary Secretary, awakening from his glassy-eyed trance, said "That is so", and the cameras cut him off.

That is not interviewing a Parliamentary Secretary or anybody else. People whose business it is to know what the interviewee will say should elicit the information properly instead of carrying on with the kind of questioning I have related. Somebody suggested these people should go abroad. I do not agree any such expense should be incurred. What I would advise is that they should be given a few weeks leave now and again to go down to the Four Courts, open to the public for nothing, and sit and listen to some of our senior counsel conducting their examination-in-chief of witnesses. There one cannot lead or if one tries to, one is sat upon by the other side or by the judge. It is almost poetry the way some of these practitioners extract all the information by a question here, a little hint there and a synopsis of the evidence. If that technique were followed in Telefís Éireann nothing further would be required.

The Law Library is morally dangerous.

I understood Senator Sheehy Skeffington, in relation to the question of corporal punishment, to place great reliance on the law.

Sometimes a broken reed.

If we can get better than a broken reed, very well. That is the technique that is desirable and necessary, the technique that can be seen any day free of charge. There is the other type of interview of a Minister or some other politician. It is a kind of interview that should be designed to enable the interviewee to go back on what his case is, positively and objectively put to him, so that he should be able to deal with it in a forthright way. If the interviewee cannot do this he must put up with the reaction of the viewers. That is the remorseless technique used in the BBC by such interviewers as Robin Day and Ian Trethowan. It is the kind of thing I would welcome here. If a Minister or Leader of the Opposition has a particular view and he wishes to get on Telefís Éireann, or if he is brought on because he had made a particular announcement, and he finds himself in the position of being questioned, he should be allowed to speak by all means. So vigorous has the questioning been in Britain that a partial row has developed between a Minister and the interviewer. That is all to the good. It is live, it is real and earnest. It is good television. I personally enjoy it and I am sure it is enjoyed by other people. The attitude on Telefís Éireann seems to be: "God forbid we would ask a Minister any question that might in the least embarrass him." The business of interviewing here seems to be to get as much milk and water sort of thing as possible on subjects that already have been published in blurbs or by the Government Information Bureau.

We had that recently in relation to an interview conducted on the White Paper on the Health Services. There is not any great punch in it. Very often such interviews enable a Minister to make his case all the better. It is the kind of interview that makes a politician really welcome the opportunity. As I have said, Telefís Éireann require to have a good look not so much at themselves as at the BBC from which they will learn a good deal. As a means of informing public opinion, again one finds that if we were to categorise Telefís Éireann we would put it into the category of the mediocre, and I think mediocrity—I dislike saying this —is the best word we can use to describe Telefís Éireann at the moment. Of course, there are hopes that it will progress.

When you come to the news you find on Telefís Éireann that there is an extremely serious time lag. I cannot understand why there should be this time lag. I know of a case where a judgment was given in the Supreme Court. It is not often you get a Supreme Court decision of public interest relating, mind you, to the rights of the individual and to the habeas corpus conduct of certain State functionaries in regard to a particular person. That decision was available at one o'clock but it was not available on Telefís Éireann at a quarter to six. I am not one of the people who, as Senator McQuillan said, are apathetic. I rang them up to know why it was not on. The excuse was they had not received it yet. That is just hopeless or it is a lie. Either way, it reflects extremely badly on whoever was responsible. That has happened on a couple of occasions to my own knowledge. I remember what happened in regard to something which may not be of great interest to the public at large but it would be of interest to some, that is, the results of the first count of the Seanad election. They were out, we will say, at twenty past four in the evening but there was no reference to them on Telefís Éireann at a quarter to six. They were able to give them at a quarter to ten. If it was of sufficient news value at a quarter to ten surely it was of sufficient news value at a quarter to six? That, to me, does not seem to be the kind of up-to-date service that the people are paying for. I think, in that regard, and in regard to the content of news, that they fall down considerably.

There is another objection I have, from the point of view of being a practising politician, and that is the news broadcasting on Telefís Éireann. If the Taoiseach, on an important motion, which is being debated, begins his speech at three o'clock and he makes a fine statement about Government policy and Government intentions and it is made and over at four fifteen and the leaders of the main Opposition Parties rise in their places and speak from four fifteen to five or five fifteen and from five fifteen to a quarter to six, I see no reason why only the Government view should be given on the news at a quarter to six. I think, on all occasions, if another view has been given that also should be put. If you want to have a standard of impartiality all views should be given. On the BBC, if the Prime Minister says something relating to Rhodesia, Vietnam or whatever it is, and the Leader of the Opposition has something else to say, they both get in or about the same kind of news coverage.

I must quite agree with what the other Senators have said in relation to "Today in the Dáil." One cannot find any real fault—I suppose one might have one's preferences—with the coverage given there. I think one is bound to say that it is covered quite objectively and quite impartially. This balance they are so fond of in Telefís Éireann is struck on this programme. There is a balanced presentation on the different points of view but that is not so in regard to Telefís Éireann news broadcasting. I have had occasion to protest to them about it but I have been told that it will be on at a quarter to ten. You then get it at that time. To my mind, while that might suit people on that side of the House, I do not believe anybody on that side of the House will say that is fair and that that is impartial presentation which it is the duty of the Authority to provide under section 18 of the Act.

I have nothing very much to say about "The Hurler on the Ditch." Senator McQuillan, in his day, was a footballer and he will know that there is a great deal of difference between a footballer on the field and the knocks he has to take and the hurler on the ditch. Of course, it ranks very high, I believe, on the TAM ratings, all of which goes to show the despised politicians are still good news and are of news interest. There is one thing which irritates me in relation to the "Hurler on the Ditch" and it is this. At times, it seems to me, that the hurlers on the ditch, despite their best endeavours, do not understand what is being said in Parliament. That was clearly evident in their discussion on the NIEC programme and the incomes policy. Some thought you could not discuss an incomes policy without talking about a manpower policy and others thought that before you begin to discuss an incomes policy you must talk about a redistribution of the national income.

They are quite different things. An incomes policy, a manpower policy and the national income are quite different things. Of course, they all have an impact on one another but you can discuss an incomes policy quite separately and you can quite intelligently divorce it from those other things. It is very irritating that a pronouncement can be made against the Government, against a particular political Party and against a particular personality and there is no comeback. This is the tremendous power that people who appear on television have. There is no use coming back in a week's time and saying: "We said so and so and we should not have said it" or "we should have given a different slant". That just cannot be done.

If somebody says something in a newspaper you can write and say that Mr. So and So said X, Y and Z and you can say those are not the facts because A, B and C are the facts. There is no similar remedy available in regard to pronouncements that can in a few minutes deal with the particular points or the particular attitude to policy adopted in the Dáil. It is not fair to politicians that that should be the case. On the other hand, if you are not going to enable those people to say what they think was said, why they think it is wrong or why they think it is right you will have a completely anaemic discussion. It seems to me that the procedure that is frequently adopted on the BBC of bringing in some of the politicians from the different parties and letting the political correspondents go after them is the right approach. If somebody says you cannot discuss an incomes policy without first deciding what you want in regard to a manpower policy, then the protagonists on the discussion on an incomes policy can come along and say "nonsense"—you cannot say it as rudely as that on television—but you can say: "That is not quite correct Mr. So and So, for these reasons," and then give the reasons why it is so. But it can be very unfair the other way. I think Telefís Éireann would want to reconsider whether, in conjunction with that kind of programme, they should not have people there who can defend themselves from the kind of observations, I think, are quite genuinely made but which sometimes can be very unfair, misleading and incorrect.

I rather think, too, in relation to the news aspect of Telefís Éireann, that the present programme they have —"Newsbeat"—is something in the nature of an abortion; it is a kind of television brucellosis. I do not know what it is; I do not know what kind of category you could put it into but I do think the previous programme, the programme it substituted —"Broadsheet"—was a much better programme and was far ahead in quality and content of the present one. However, that it a matter of individual preference but all I want to say is that there are marks of mediocrity on all sides of the screen in relation to that programme.

(Longford): It is a matter of opinion.

Very much a matter of opinion, I agree. My third way of looking at television is from the point of view of seeing what effect it has on education and culture. We know there are some Telefís Scoile programmes. I wonder to what extent television is being used to help students at school? I think they have, on occasion, broadcast the play being done by students for the Intermediate or Leaving Certificate in order to give some perspective of the kind of thing they are reading in Hamlet or Macbeth, or whatever it is. I think one broadcast is not enough, it should be done more frequently and should not be confined to the regular school broadcasts. It could be put on, say, at 3 o'clock on a Friday afternoon, or whatever time would be suitable for children to look at it. I do not think half enough use is being made of television as an aim and supplement in education, either in the national or post-primary schools.

It would be very difficult to show that Telefís Éireann has made any great progress or has effected any great progress in relation to the revival of Irish. In this context, perhaps, I should refer to what Senator O'Kennedy said about what Senator FitzGerald stated. Senator FitzGerald does not object to section 17, as it is. What he strongly objects to is the way it has been interpreted and applied by the Radio Éireann Authority. Senator FitzGerald's point, as I understood it, quite clearly was that people should not be inhibited from even questioning whether or not— if they wanted to—Irish should be revived. Certainly there should be no prohibition upon their criticising the means at present adopted to revive it and suggesting alternative and better means.

That has been questioned many times on television.

I have never seen any of those programmes.

I have never seen a programme devoted entirely to this kind of subject and it is a large subject which agitates millions of minds but one gets the impression that while that is being raised the brakes, if they are not put on, certainly the foot is put forward ready to apply the brake at any moment.

They first put on the brake.

Senator Ó Maoláin will be given an opportunity of making his speech later on. In so far as section 17 is concerned merely having a kind of neutral regard for the national aims and constantly bearing these in mind and doing nothing about them does not seem to me to be a good way of implementing section 17 of the Broadcasting Authority Act of 1960. It seems to me that very little is being done by Telefís Éireann to help in the restoration of the Irish language. I firmly believe the first thing we must do in this country, in order to secure any kind of advance in the love and learning of Irish, is to get rid of a whole lot of misconceptions in relation to it; to quiet a great number of fears which exist and to eliminate, as far as is possible, a number of the existing prejudices against it. You will not do that by putting on a programme like "Labhair Gaeilge Linn". That does not begin to scratch the surface of the problem. You must get way behind what is retarding the progress. I should have expected that the Department of Education, which it appears is not now charged with the revival of Irish but that has been transferred in the new White Paper to the Department of Finance—but whatever organ of State is responsible the Department of Education is the State agency concerned with education and concerned with this great problem of reviving Irish—should get together with Telefís Éireann and devise a programme which would last—not a spot here and a spot there—but a planned programme over a whole period of years which would remove all these barriers; would give parents and children and, indeed, teenagers the kind of incentives which exist if they were only exploited, for learning Irish. How many parents think it injures the little brains of their children to compel them to learn Irish in the lower classes? How many think it is monstrously cruel to compel a child to learn Irish, when the fact of the matter is, it is a very good thing to make a child do what it does not want to do, because it is good training? In after life, when the child leaves school, it will have to do many things it does not want to do, including conforming to the law of the land. Life is a whole process of doing things you do not want to do. The idea that children will be adversely affected mentally; that they are being retarded; all of these things are, in my view, capable of being got rid of in this medium. Telefís Éireann and the great section of the Department of Finance which is now charged with the responsibility of restoring Irish have done absolutely nothing about it.

In that regard, section 17 of the Broadcasting Authority Act of 1960 has been an utter dead letter. I am glad we have an opportunity of referring to section 17 and I hope that a positive planned programme extending over a period, not of months, but of years, designed with the same skill and enthusiasm with which other programmes, other policies, and other ideas have been designed, will be planned by the Department of Education, or the Department of Finance— whoever is responsible for the revival of Irish—in conjunction with Telefís Éireann and that that will be a programme which will be continued and sustained. If we have that kind of thing it would be one of the greatest hopes that we in this generation would have of helping the restoration of the Irish language.

I cannot see that putting on a few highland flings or Irish dances is any great assistance to Irish culture. I suppose they are pleasant enough in their own way, but there are a great many other things that might be shown to people who cannot visit the National Museum, the National Gallery and places like that. These things could be put on film and shown on television. It should be done subtly. This is a matter for the psychologists, and people with similar skills, but it should be done. We talk about having a great Irish heritage, about being an ancient nation, and about the golden age. These are not myths. They have been living realities for 300 years. These are the things we should put across. Telefís Éireann are not doing anything about that.

They have constantly borne in mind the national aim of restoring the Irish language. If those other things were borne in mind they were stillborn. Under that heading Telefís Éireann have not been a success. However, Rome was not built in a day, and Telefís Éireann may be pardoned, perhaps, for not having done something about these things. They could not do everything in a period of five years, when they were having their teething troubles. I hope that in the next five years—time is running out and this is an urgent matter—something will be done by Telefís Éireann, or by the Department of Education or the Department of Finance, whichever is now charged with restoring the Irish language, to use what we have to advantage. If there were a proper approach we could do great work towards the revival of the Irish language. Then Telefís Éireann, far from being inimical to the progress of the Irish language and the maintenance of Irish culture, could become a great agent of restoration.

There are one or two minor matters on which I should like to comment. It seems to me that there is a great deal of mediocrity in Telefís Éireann. One gets the impression that unless one belongs to a particular set one does not get anywhere in Telefís Éireann. One of the most annoying things that happen is that one fellow is put on a programme, and after a while some fellow on another programme starts praising him—and then a personality is born. I am against the cult of the personality. I am like Khrushchev in that sense. Some of the great television personalities were heavy handed humorists without one ounce of humour or wit. I suppose we can only say in that connection "Go bhfoiridh Dia orainn."

In regard to recruitment the Television Authority must be very careful, whatever the internal rules and regulations of the trade unions may be. I do not want to be taken in any sense as not being wholly and fully behind the trade unions in their legitimate demands. For a long time I was associated with the trade union movement, and I had the honour to represent that sector of society as a member of the Labour Panel. There comes a time when in the interests of efficiency Telefís Éireann must assert their authority. They are a vast organisation expending a lot of money and they must ensure that they are not confined to the mediocre. I am sure I have said enough and that I need not go any further. I am sure Telefís Éireann know as well as I do what is meant by that.

On the question of advertising, one Christmas Day in a moment of unaccustomed activity I turned on television, and lo and behold, even on Christmas Day we could not get away from advertising. I do not know what they did last Christmas Day, but imagine having advertising on television on Christmas Day! To me it was wholly outrageous that we could not stay out of business on television for one day in the year. That is wholly deplorable.

It was not on television last Christmas Day. It was a red letter day.

Thanks be to God we are becoming a little bit more civilised and observing the traditional form of Chrstmas Day in Ireland. We do not do any work on that day.

It will not do to dismiss, as lightly as some people might be inclined to, the problem which was raised very properly by Senator McQuillan. It must be profoundly disturbing for the people in the Department of Health who are sending out propaganda to discourage children and adults from smoking cigarettes, to find that another organ of the State are doing their damnedest to make people buy as many cigarettes of as many varieties as possible. That does not seem to me to be correct. It is all very well to say that we cannot get rid of cigarette smoking overnight.

Like Senator McQuillan, I am a retired smoker, but I can quite see the pleasure that there is in smoking, and if cigarettes were safe tomorrow I should probably be back on them as good as ever. It is wholly wrong that television, which is viewed by children and teenagers, should be constantly bombarding us with cigarette advertisements. I do not know what answer parents have for children when they say that these things are always on television. The same applies to drink. I think Senator McQuillan said —if I understood him correctly; I was distracted at the time he was dealing with it—that there is no need to encourage people to drink, and certainly not Irish people. This is doing what comes naturally. I think people will drink whatever they want whenever they want it. Beamish is probably one exception——

Beamish is going strong. Sound man Brendan. It is made in Cork.

If it is, it emphasises the power of television. I think it is improper and a trifle disgusting to see a young girl taking a glass of brown ale—I will not specify which—and saying it is great stuff, as if that were the norm of our teenagers. I should like to have some episcopal pronouncement about this. I should like some pronouncement about it. Telefís Éireann, the Department of Education, and other State bodies, will have to consider the psychological impact of these things upon the people of the country. They may not have done that in Britain, but that is no reason why we should not do it here. As I understand it, in Britain they have toned down considerably advertisements for cigarette smoking. I suppose this problem is not really the concern of Telefís Éireann. They have their job to do but, at some stage in the future, the opinions of people skilled in social work and psychology should be obtained, as to the possibility of these advertisements having a detrimental effect. I do not think we should allow them to be put out to the viewers of this country without making a check as to whether they will have a good effect or a bad effect.

I hope the brief survey I have made will be of some assistance to Telefís Éireann. Very many people look at television for pleasure and I think that for public representatives it must also be a duty.

(Longford): It is only reasonable that Members of the House should be fairly critical when a Bill of this nature comes before us because it affords us an opportunity to criticise, as other speakers did. I hope to be constructive in my criticism. At least I intend to be, from my own standpoint.

My first criticism is of the Minister. In introducing the measure he was very brief indeed. He gave very little information in his statement. Some people may say brevity is the soul of wit but I did not regard the Minister's statement as being particularly witty. Perhaps he is holding his facts and figures in order to arm himself for his reply and to give a detailed and more informative statement when he is concluding. If that is so, I shall welcome it but I take the view that we are entitled to criticise, and possibly even exaggerate a little in our criticism. Another criticism I have of the Minister is that he should have introduced this measure here.

One of the complaints Members of the House have is that so little legislation is initiated here. During certain periods of the year—it is not true at the moment—it was the practice, particularly during the financial period in the Dáil, to give very little work to the Seanad and the result was that towards the end of the summer we had a clutter of legislation and very little time to deal with it. That is still a complaint but, because the original Bill was introduced first here, I feel the Minister should have kept up the good work and come in here first with this amending measure. When the Radio-Telefís Éireann Bill was before the House originally, the standard of debate was good. Indeed, some of the people responsible for piloting it agreed spontaneously that it was a better debate than that in the Dáil. I hope the same will be said in regard to this measure. I do not know what was said in the Dáil but I am prepared to say that the debate here is objectively critical.

Having said that as a preamble, I propose first to deal with what the Minister has not said in his introductory statement. In regard to the capital expenditure proposed by the Radio-Telefís Authority, I should like to inquire about the nature and the itemisation of that expenditure. I understand it will come under the headings of sound radio and the further development of the television network. In regard to sound radio, the Minister indicated that VHF transmission will be in operation in the foreseeable future. What coverage will VHF transmission give to the country? Where will the transmitters be located? I ask this in the hope that the Minister will reply when he is concluding.

I presume the Senator has read the annual report since it was issued.

(Longford): Perhaps I did but this House is entitled to the information.

It is all in the annual report, circulated the other day.

(Longford): Yes, but the Minister is before the House. Another matter I should like to inquire into is the method of further developing the television network. When the original measure was before us I spoke, in my turn and out of my turn, in regard to the 625 line definition, how our people had gone over to Stockholm and had taken what they could get. I suggested the development of a 625 line definition rather than a 405 line transmission. The British had got in before us and I suppose we were not worthy to take the light from their window. Development has taken place in this matter and a few of us have been battering at it. I am glad to know progress has been made but I am aware that there are still areas of fringe reception throughout the country.

I am inclined to ask, since this proposal makes provision for capital expenditure, if any development is proposed for the north-midlands and for pockets in Donegal and the west generally where there is bad reception. I am well aware that topographical aspects come into the matter but reception in many areas is very poor. I also ask the Minister is there any proposal to establish in north Leinster and Cavan a Telefís Éireann transmitter. I am putting this to him to afford him an opportunity of making a statement on it. I am prepared to argue that there is need in that area for development. There may be other areas where development is needed, areas where there is only fringe reception.

I hope that future development will be on the 625 line system. I know there were difficulties in the past but I will never agree that further development here should be on 405 line definition.

I hope the Minister will see fit to make a statement on those points because they are important. Since we criticised some aspects of Telefís Éireann, let me hasten to add that there are technicians in Telefís Éireann who are better than those to be found in other and richer television authorities. It is only fair that I should pay such tribute to their technical talent.

With regard to the question of programmes I want to raise this question. What is our aim and our object in relation to Telefís Éireann? Do we want it as a medium of entertainment only or as an educational and uplifting medium? It would take a very long time to discuss fully that aspect of the matter. With regard to the question of programmes on Radio Éireann one of the things I have noted—maybe I am a bit childish—is that the children's programmes are far superior to most of the others. That might be a childish view of mine. Again, perhaps there are people in this House who will agree that I am right and if enough people agree with me on that point I am not completely childish. As I say, the children's programmes, as far as I have noticed, are quite superior to and much better than the other programmes. They are educational and uplifting. That is as it should be because children are most important in that they will be the backbone of the nation in the future.

From the point of view of quality, quite a number of Radio Éireann programmes are good. I suppose this, again, is a matter of taste, of one man's meat being another man's poison but I have noted that the programmes produced directly by Radio Éireann and which are not sponsored by advertising interests are good in nearly all cases. The programme that seems objectionable to me—it may not be objectionable to other people of a different generation, it may be tolerated by them—is the programme that is produced and farmed out on the sold out time. That, in my view, is a poor programme. I know there are quite a number of people in this country who will agree with me on this.

I am inclined to the view that, by and large, children's programmes on Telefís Éireann are good. I have not seen anything I could object to. That is as it should be. Credit is due to the Telefís Éireann Authority and to the producers of such programmes on that account. I agree that some of the programme material is purchased from abroad but a more critical eye seems to be kept on what is imported for use in children's programmes than on that in respect of programmes for adults. In regard to programming, can the Minister give figures as to the amount of time in any one day that is farmed out or sold to advertisers where the people put on their own show, whether it is a film from America or the Late Late Show?

It is ten per cent of the total time.

(Longford): Ten per cent of the total time.

It is not more than seven and a half minutes per hour.

(Longford): That is not the answer. That is far too simple for me. I always suspect simple answers. That is too smart an answer from the Minister. I am not accepting that. He seems to underrate my intelligence when giving that answer. I want to know the figures in relation to the time taken up in the opening and closing of the hour night angles. Time is farmed out or sold by the Telefís Éireann Authority to advertising agencies. I do not know who they are because I am not interested in them. Until somebody states to the contrary, I am prepared to argue that such time has been sold. The time occupied by brainwashing in relation to soap powders which wash clothes blacker than white may amount to ten per cent but that is not the whole picture.

Utter nonsense.

(Longford): I am prepared to argue that the programmes put across during that time, the canned programmes from America, are sold. I should like to know from the Minithe actual amount of time sold?

I cannot elaborate on that.

(Longford): The Minister can deal with that as much as he likes when he is replying. I am prepared to say that, between the opening of the angles and their closing, the Telefís Éireann Authority have farmed out that period so that it can be used for advertising. That is my view and I am open to be convinced but it will take some convincing that that is not so. It is because of that that there is so much criticism in the country; and there is criticism in the country. We cannot close our eyes to the fact that there are many people up and down the country who are critical and the rumblings of it started here this afternoon. I observed that Senator FitzGerald was inclined to be critical all through this debate. I thought he would have been much more anxious to be much more critical but I do not think he could afford to be as critical as I can be because, after all, he has been one of the boys, too. That is true. Senator O'Quigley was more outspoken and, mind you, I agree with many things he said. I agree also with many of the things which Senator McQuillan said.


The Senator should come over here.

(Longford): We might get on better at a distance. They are mostly American programmes. Mind you I do not want to be unreasonable and I do fully realise that because of the language question we cannot import good programmes from France, Germany or Italy. Neither can we take a programme which has already been put across on BBC or ITV, again, because it has already been seen by quite a large number of our people who have a choice of channels. It has already been agreed that there is that difficulty. But I am not prepared to agree that even if we do bring in a programme from America it is not possible to get better programmes. One of the drawbacks of it is it is teaching our younger generation to talk American slang rather than English. Some people wanted to bring in this question of the Irish language. I think the Irish language is worth learning and speaking; good Irish and, even if we cannot speak good Irish, to speak bad Irish. We do speak bad English at the moment. I should like to see better English but the type of English put across from many of these programmes from America could hardly be calculated to improve the standard of our English speech.

There is another aspect of it. Many of those canned programmes—and we must face up to the hard fact—I do not want to become a moralist but there is a decency and respect for human personality involved in this matter and most of the programmes shown are rather crude; there is that rather luscious love-making, and that is the only idea they have to put across. There is rather too much of that. As Senator O'Quigley said, we can begin by small things and fall little by little. He was quite right in that. These things gradually lower our standards. We have got to the point at which there can be an upheaval over a very recent programme. I do not want to go any further into this matter than to say that a programme which is intended or tends to lower our attitude to the state of marriage is a bad programme and, from that standpoint, there is wide room for improvement in the type of programme during the hours when those so-called triangles are open on the right and left hand sides. Who owns the time? That is for the Minister and Telefís Éireann to answer but that is my criticism of it. Who actually owns it is another matter. We can have another word about that.

I know I am saying only what many people are prepared to say to me privately and many people in this House, it does not matter on which side of the House they sit, will say—"you were quite right when you gave expression to those views" because I am basing this argument on what should be the aim of Telefís Éireann. Is it to educate and to uplift, or is it just to provide entertainment, cheap entertainment? If it is only to provide entertainment, it would be just as well that we had never passed the Act which was initiated in this House because the idea of cheap entertainment is as old as bread and circuses. The Minister knows, and many people know, where that idea was first born. I argue that there is a duty on Radio and Telefís Éireann to have the ultimate aim of educating and uplifting the public man. If it has not that view, then it has no sense of responsibility. If it has that aim and duty the Authority should be careful, first of all, in regard to the amount of time it farms out, which is controlled by the people to whom it is farmed out.

That brings me, again, to the quality of advertising which, quite rightly, has been raised by Senators O'Quigley and McQuillan. My view—because I am stubborn and awkward—is I refuse to buy anything which is advertised because I take the awkward view that people who can afford so much money to advertise any article whether it is soap-powder, beer or cigarettes, must take out of the article the value of the paper on which they advertise. That is commonsense. Any firm which can afford to pay so much in advertising in this brainwashing undertaking, must take it out of the article, or else they are charging too much for the article. That is why I try to choose a cigarette which is advertised least, or not at all, even if the same firm may advertise.

The Senator does not believe in that even at Seanad election time.

(Longford): Even at Seanad election time I do not plaster my face on any placards sent around the country. I think the Minister should leave that out of it. That is not an issue in this measure. I feel it is a good and healthy thing that there should be criticism of this matter. It is one of the few chances members of this House will get of criticising the quality of programmes and trend in a general way. We have a duty to do that, as we see it. As far as I am concerned, even the Minister throwing in little spanners like that will not annoy me at all.

One disturbing feature of this advertising is that it appeals more to children. That is what makes it so tragic. Many grown up people will not be brainwashed, or, I would hope not. I know I would not allow my mind to be confused by it. Personally, I am inclined to act in the opposite direction. Those pills advertised which will cure anything from leprosy to an ingrown toenail, and everything else such as soap-powders, cigarettes, beer and all these thing tend to make me react against all of them. I find that children from six to 16 years seem to get some entertainment value out of it in that they can learn off by heart the jingle; they know it even before it comes on because it has been repeated so often and, in that way, young minds are influenced. That is the only reason I have gone into this matter. I agree with Senator O'Quigley that we must take a critical and hard look at this advertising in some way or another; that we have a duty to see that this is done because it is influencing our youth.

This is the type of programme younger people seem to want. Where there is a choice of programmes, as there is in my part of the country, we find that if we switch to a rather worthwhile programme on the BBC, the young people are inclined to complain and object. In our area we would want three television sets. That would seem to be the answer. It seems that advertising has an appeal for young people.

We must make a decision as to whether our television is to entertain only, or to educate and uplift. When the original Bill was first introduced I had great hopes for Telefís Éireann. I thought that even if we could not have long periods of transmission, we would produce programmes which would be characteristic of what is best in the Irish nation. We could be fairly critical and have a close look at ourselves. I agree with Senator O'Quigley that it is necessary to be critical of ourselves, and I thought we could have robust arguments and still reflect the best in our nation. There is plenty of material in Ireland. Programmes could be produced by sending a camera around the country. Unrehearsed programmes are the most interesting. The "School Around the Corner" is interesting to most people, not because its content is good, but because it is unrehearsed and off the cuff.

I had hoped that Telefís Éireann would be a medium for uplifting and educating our people. We must ask ourselves how far it has gone in that direction. It has gone some distance. I do not want to be unfair. Some of the home produced programmes are good, but there is a danger of going towards the musical hall joke. We are inclined to go down to that level in some of our home produced programmes. Possibly the incident that took place recently might put a stop to this. I hope it does, but we are inclined to go in that direction now. I hope we will take a better look at ourselves now, and that in the future Radio-Telefís Éireann will help us to educate and uplift ourselves and reflect what is best in our country.

I suggest that a radical change in the charter of the liberties of Telefís Éireann may be necessary. Some people suggest that we should put on programmes on the same lines as the BBC.

I should like the Minister, when he is replying, to let us know the overall cost of the service and the income derived from advertising. Members of the House will then be in a better position to judge whether it is desirable to make some change. Possibly the day will come when it will be strongly advocated that we should continue to cut down our standard of programmes, and that Telefís Éireann should be set up on the same basis as the BBC. That would require legislation, and we would not have advertising. If we had enough money we could get the right type of people to produce the right type of programme. There would be one great advantage. The people who do the advertising could not be blamed, and I could not make the sort of statements I have been making if our television were on the same basis as the BBC. Perhaps that day will come. I would not be surprised if it does.

I may have exaggerated slightly, but I have said these things honestly and sincerely in the hope of being objectively critical and of improving the standard of our programmes.

I certainly did not think that the Minister would meet with such embarrassment from the other side of the House. If there were to be any embarrassment for him I thought it would come from here. But for section 2, I suppose, we would not be at liberty to speak on the television programmes. Section 2 deals with the provision of money for Telefís Éireann for the next five years. We are in agreement with the Bill. Telefís Éireann will have its fifth birthday on the 31st January next, and we believe that in that short period it has done a reasonably good job. There are faults to be found but we can expect faults.

Very little fault can be found with home produced programmes. Most of them have been excellent. The news presentation, "Teen Talk," sports programmes, all the other home produced programmes, have been very well done and tributes are due to the cameramen and the other technicians employed in their presentation. The only programmes I object to are the canned ones. Some of the programmes put over to us, particularly on Sunday nights, are the worst possible. On Sunday nights people like to stay at home, the whole family stay at home, and I submit that Telefís Éireann should give us something better than some of the canned material we are now getting. They should endeavour to give us a good Irish play. At one time they did so and I hope they return to the practice. Programmes like "Stephen D" and other BBC issues are not good enough. They are not the entertainment desired by families in Irish homes. I hope I will never have to see "Stephen D" shown on an Irish screen again.

I am not a prude but it was disgusting to have children looking at that programme. It was most embarrassing. We in the Westmeath County Council issued an emphatic protest against such a programme being put out by our own television station. I suggest that if they find it necessary to take BBC material they should be more selective.

The question of the revival of Irish was mentioned. In this respect I think Telefís Éireann are doing a good job. I suggest the reason for that is that they are not giving us too much of it. If they tried to ram it down our throats or the throats of our children they would not have succeeded. They are doing very well with the amount they are producing. Perhaps they may increase it in due course but at the moment they are taking it nice and easy and the children are taking a great interest in it. It is extraordinary, for instance, the number of children who watch "Amuigh Faoin Spéir" on Sunday evenings.

I should like the Minister to do something about extending the programmes for schools. A start could be made by having two hours a week on, say, Tuesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays there could be programmes on history and geography, and on Friday afternoon, say between two and three, when teachers and children are tired after the week, there could be programmes of Irish music—songs and dancing in which the children would take an interest. At the moment, it is the policy of the Department of Education to give the teachers a free hand one half-day a week. Friday is usually the day. It is then that library books are brought out and a break is taken from the school programme. This is the time when a television programme on music could serve the dual purpose of providing the children with interesting material and teaching them some good Irish music, good Irish songs. If such programmes were put out, there would not be a school in the country without a television set within 12 months.

Section 4 of the Bill worries me slightly. It was referred to in the other House but I do not think any Senator spoke of it so far. I refer to appointments in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. We are not dissatisfied about the history of such appointments. You can think of the appointment of a postmaster, be it in Cappawhite or Drumcondra. I thought that when a new Minister took over he would try to break away from a system under which a person has to belong to a political Party to get an appointment.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator may not refer to any function of the Minister unless it has to do with the Bill.

I was about to refer to section 4 of the Bill. I hope it will not provide a backdoor through which people can pass to appointments they could not have got heretofore. I hope, indeed, to see an improvement in the system of appointment in the Department generally.

There are quite a number of new housing schemes in the country and on the chimney of each house there is an aerial. I suggest that the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and the Department of Local Government should put their heads together and erect a common aerial to serve such new housing schemes. The suburbs of Dublin remind one of a State forest. Something could be done, through cooperation between the two Departments, to get rid of three-quarters of these aerials and replace them with a common aerial.

I am worried about the effects of television on young children. One will find television sets in the houses of working class people and farmers while better off people have not got any. There is no control over the use of television in houses. A teacher will know immediately, without being told, when a television set has been installed in a house. The children from that house will come in without their exercises done. They will run home from school immediately. As soon as they have had dinner they will say: "Mammy, I will do my exercise now". In half an hour they have done their lessons and are watching television and next day they turn up in school with their exercise only half-done.

It is very difficult to control the use of television in houses where there is only one livingroom. The father comes in after his day's work and switches on the news. After the news something else is on and the children, who watch television right through the night until the "Soldier's Song" is played, do not get their lessons done. I do not have to be told when a television set is installed in a house. I notice an immediate drop in the amount of homework done by the children in that house. It particularly applies in homes where there are not two livingrooms. Therefore, television is detrimental to school-going children. I do not know what can be done. It is in the hands of parents and unless parents do something about it it is bound to interfere with the education of our youth.

The Bill gives an opportunity for a very timely review of the activities of Telefís Éireann over the past five years. It was refreshing to hear the constructive and critical debate in the Seanad today. In fact, we can feel proud of the way the Seanad handled the debate. Those on the Government benches are to be thanked and congratulated because of the critical manner in which they approached the debate. Senator O'Reilly, in particular, said many things today that the ordinary people down the country are saying day in and day out. His criticisms were both timely and worthwhile and, coming from the Government side of the House, they are worth twice as much as criticisms from this side.

With regard to the review itself perhaps I might begin with what I regard as the centre of the problem— the financial statement issued by Radio Éireann. This statement is exceedingly informative and very well executed. It paints a picture that everything in the garden is rosy, that income is going up exceedingly well, that, in fact, advertising is up over £550,000 on last year and that there is a surplus of almost £400,000 on last year's operation. In other words, Telefís Éireann is a business success judged by business standards. I think that is the real kernel of the problem because, to achieve this business success, they have had to give absolutely free rein to their advertising arm. The result is that there is an enormous increase in advertising, some £500,000.

Justifiable criticism has been levelled at the proportion of that income —£100,000—derived from advertising the various brands of cigarettes and the effect this can have on the youth by way of encouraging them to smoke. I fully endorse all that has been said in that respect but I think that cigarette advertising is relatively harmless compared with the advertising in regard to alcoholic drink. The smoker can only harm himself. At the worst, he can lead himself to an early grave by lung cancer, but the young boy or girl, who is led to excessive drinking as a result of television advertising, can, not alone harm himself, but he can bring ruin and disaster on his family afterwards.

It is not pleasant to read the statistics in relation to the number of alcoholics in this country and to see the ruin those have brought on their families. I need not give examples. Everyone can, only too unfortunately, find examples in his own neighbourhood. That is what we are encouraging. If you want facts and figures on this, the Minister for Finance supplied them in a speech in Cork only yesterday, as reported in today's papers. The revenue from the tax on alcoholic liquor is now £28 million. Listen to the wonderful rate of progress we have made, in the past ten years, on this account. The consumption of beer has gone up from 870,000 barrels—I thought it was gallons but I find it is barrels now—in 1955 to one million in 1965. The consumption of spirits has gone up from 860,000 proof gallons in 1955 to 1,160,000 proof gallons last year. Wine has gone up from 540,000 gallons to 850,000 gallons. Is it not time we cried halt to this? Is it not time we took a hard look at the effect of seductive advertising on Telefís Éireann? You are not with it unless you are in the lounge bar. You are not with it at 17 or 18 unless you can take your girl friend in, you taking the pint while she takes the glass.

That is what is happening to our youth today. I can speak from close knowledge of a certain section of our youth in the university. Make no mistake about it, the consumption of drink is on the increase. A great deal of it is due to the psychological impact of the advertising carried on by Telefís Éireann. What of the revenue? The sum of £1,500,000 is got from total time sales. We are told that £100,000 comes from cigarette advertising. I would say that the yield from the sale of alcoholic drink is probably not more than £200,000. Would we be justified, for the sake of £200,000, in allowing this if it were responsible for leading even 100 of our youths every year into excessive drinking habits? Would we be justified in accepting the filthy lucre of the advertisers for the sake of that? What is involved here is £200,000.

What is the amount involved in having a television service here? The account says that the revenue received from the broadcasting service is about £1,250,000. That is nothing. That is the least part of the cost of the service to the community. You have got to take the cost of the set, the depreciation on it and so on into account. You can put the cost of depreciation down to £20 per year, that is four times the cost of the licence fee. The public are not paying £5 per set. They are paying at least £25 for having a television set in their homes. The total cost to the nation is at least £7 million to £8 million. When you speak of a figure of the magnitude of £7 million or £8 million, does it not look absolutely farcical that the advertising yield is only £100,000 or £200,000 and that we receive that amount just for the sake of allowing our youth to be gravely endangered? The figure of £200,000 is less than 2 per cent of the sum involved.

Look at it another way: a penny tax on the pint is calculated to bring in £1 million a year; a penny on the gallon of petrol brings in even more. So, when we think of this, why should we not take our courage in our hands? If we feel that advertising is the cause of the ruination of even fifty of our youths each year, surely we value them and value the nation sufficiently to wipe out this terrific advertising from Telefís Éireann?

Who said we feel that?

I suggest we should face up to that. I enjoy a drink socially as much as anyone. I am not against drink in its proper use; I am against leading young people between the ages of 18 and 21 years into excessive drinking habits. There is a grave distinction between the two of these. I think it is a sorry reflection on us, as a nation, if we sacrifice even ten of those youths each year for the sake of getting another £100,000.

I know the Senator is not opposed to drink generally but is he opposed to drink consisting of malting barley?

I am not opposed in any way to the legitimate or proper use of drink but I am opposed to the advertisements portrayed in Telefís Éireann and the impression they give that you are not just smart unless you take your drink, and the sooner you can join that smart set the better. "The best moment of all"—after the match is when you rush to the pub is our standard, whereas, when we were playing games in our youth, it was not to the pub we rushed afterwards and I think most of us lost nothing by not doing that. For Senator Ó Maoláin's information, I had my place on the 400 yards with UCC.

I am saying you might not have but most of us did so.

I thoroughly agree with Senator Quinlan.

I appeal to the Minister to take drastic steps in this regard. In fact, I do not think it would be any great loss nationally if we had the service without advertising. After all, the amount involved is not that great. It would result in far greater freedom from pressures which are very often alien to our way of life and everything we hold dear. I am sure it would make the running of Telefís Éireann much easier.

Of course, if we want to economise and, indeed, there is plenty of room for it—we need read only portion of the report, and the answer is there. The answer gives the weekly programme hours of viewing in the smaller European countries and we find we are top of the list with 45 hours per week. At the bottom of the list is the country which is always held up to us as a model of efficiency—Denmark—with 29 hours per week. I am sorry, the Netherlands are last, their viewing hours are, at the most, three to four hours per day. I do not see why we want to make our people television-drunk. If you go to the cinema, you are satisfied with a two-hour show. In fact, you are discouraged from going to a three or four hour show. I once had the experience of sitting through one of these marathons, and never again! In other words, a normal period is something like two hours. Why then must we have this service available from 5 p.m. to 11.30 p.m. with suggestions that it should be extended?

Senator McAuliffe very properly painted an all too true picture of the impact of television on the children. Every teacher knows it. Senator McAuliffe is quite right—the impact is far greater in the poorer homes because of the fact that you have not got a separate room. For the sake of the children, it needs to be curtailed. If you have a children's programme from 5 o'clock to 6 o'clock at least half of it should have some specific educational aim in mind. There should then be a break to give the husband an opportunity of talking to his wife and family. You could break at least until 7.30 p.m. and you would have adequate viewing between the hours of 7.30 and 10 p.m. Such an arrangement would ensure that the family would talk together just a little. It would also ensure that when you visited a neighbour's home you would not be greeted in silence as you arrived at the door and, on departure, given the handshake with little or no communication during your stay. We have always prided ourselves as a nation that we were capable of self-expression and, as somebody put it here this evening, one is almost a local parliament in the local gatherings. But this is disappearing fast as this synthetic entertainment takes over.

If we are really serious about wanting to strengthen the physical, mental and moral fibre of our people, we do not do so by having people thrown into chairs with their eyes glued on television sets all night, every night of the week and every week of the year. That is part of the degradation and, certainly, to couple that same idea with a national economic programme is self-contradictory. Why do the Danes have only 29 viewing hours per week? Perhaps, when the Minister is answering the questions put to him by Senator O'Reilly, he might answer that one.

It is a civilised country.

Holland is even more sparing with three hours per night. We have got to control this monster before it controls us. It has a tremendous potential for good. It also has a potential for evil and for exposing our nation to completely alien ideals. This is far too serious a matter to allow to go unchallenged. The standard of debate this evening —and I hope the discussion will continue well into tomorrow—has shown that the House is critical and that it has ideas to offer on this matter. I think we should have a Seanad committee so constituted as to keep a watching-brief on this. It should meet the Director-General periodically, or some members of the governing body and pass on criticisms. It should listen to their answers and, if not satisfied, something should be done about it. It is good that some of the highest figures in the land should have raised their voice in protest because the image that everything is lovely in Montrose is no longer a well accepted one. At least people are beginning to think critically.

I think, as was mentioned by Senator McAuliffe this evening, that the committee in Westmeath which passed a resolution of protest against a cheap English play—"Stephen D" which was shown to defile our Sunday evening, acted very wisely and properly. I hope other representative bodies will not hesitate, on every occasion that the time demands, to express their views. Otherwise, what will happen? Our norms of conduct and our standards will be set by a clique of left-wing letter writers in the Irish Times. They think that what they believe is right, and that the views of the ordinary 90 per cent of the citizens do not matter. It is their views that count. It is time we accepted the challenge and made ourselves heard in public on this matter.

Could we hear whether we are taking my motion to-morrow?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Yes, we can hear that at 10.31 in the morning.

Debate adjourned.
The Seanad adjourned at 10 o'clock until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 17th February, 1966.