A WRITER in these pages not so long ago bewailed the fact that politicians in general have not a true perspective of Broadcasting. Immersed as they are in the problems of finance, unemployment and budget deficits, perhaps this is not to be wondered at. In view, however, of the Bill which our elected representatives to the Federal House must consider in the very near future, perhaps a timely note upon one or two phases of Broadcasting may not be out of place.
Broadcasting is not merely a matter of playing gramaphone records. That particular stage of it is years past, though unfortunately many people, who ought to know better, do not realise it. To-day, Broadcasting is a great public utility catering for over a quarter of a million licence holders representing a cash outlay for licence fees of as many pounds sterling annually, and rendering a service embracing news, education, finance, domestic purposes, sporting, culture, religion, politics-in fact, every conceivable requirement of all sections of the people.
Broadcasting is a big subject. Those whose commercial interests are closely allied to it represent organisations of national importance giving employment to thousands of people-our National Wireless Organisation alone employs more than one thousand Australians. Therefore, any move likely to affect the continued employment of these people-and political tampering with Broadcasting may conceivably do this - must be examined with the greatest caution.
Free from official interference, Broadcasting will develop itself. The last five years surely have proved thus. The invidious position of the "A" class stations and their fast waning popularity with listeners not withstanding, the number of licences has increased by leaps and bounds, the credit for this being generally recognised as largely attributable to "B" stations by own unaided efforts. This being so, the attempt to undermine them by introducing advertising from "A" stations and the equally pernicious proposal to introduce "C" stations is a particularly glaring example of the unsympathetic attitude of officialdom towards the very stations responsible for the huge increase in licence revenue, not one penny of which they receive.
Listeners will do well to follow the Parliamentary discussions closely, for their interests are vitally concerned with the outcome. Any move designed to attack the progress of "B" class stations must be met with the solid opposition of the listening public.
It seems patent that in trotting forward the absurd idea of "C" class stations the real idea was to drive a wedge into the "B" class organisation by imposing Government opposition to private enterprise. In the face of the Government's pledges, this is an un- warranted attack upon private Broadcasting firms Official prejudice arbitrarily removed the technical control of "A" stations from the only firm properly equipped to run them satisfactorily. No advantage has resulted merely an extra burden placed upon the public in the way of extra civil servants' salaries.
With the pathetic examples before us of the results of official interference with other industries, we must set ourselves against any tampering with Broadcasting.