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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (5 June) . . Page.. 1956 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

I do not pretend that we would be alone in Australia in lamenting the range of broadcasting options available to us. There would be any number of communities all over Australia seeking more access. I know, for example, that a large number of amateur or community-based broadcasting entities, ranging from school communities with broadcasting facilities through to specialist organisations such as our own ArtSound FM in Canberra, have been pursuing for some time the capacity to reach wider audiences. Undoubtedly, such organisations would relish the chance to obtain such a licence. It may be that there is a stronger case for a community licence to receive one of the spots on the FM band than there is for a commercial licence.

As we look around this chamber and in the gallery, we can see that this is not exactly an issue of burning importance to a large number of people.

Mr Quinlan: I am riveted, Gary.

MR HUMPHRIES: I am so pleased to hear that, Mr Quinlan. I see a more important issue the community needs to take up with the Australian Broadcasting Authority, and in some ways has in recent days, and that is not so much who can broadcast but local content in broadcasting.

I do not know that the ACT community would be enormously enriched if, by the granting of an additional licence, we obtained simply another one of Sydney's commercial stations being reticulated to the ACT. Perhaps it will give us a chance to hear Alan Jones, John Laws or some of the tin-pot equivalents.

Mr Quinlan: I think we have them now.

MR HUMPHRIES: I think we have them now, yes. We could get the second order Alan Jones or John Laws broadcast into the ACT, which sends a bit of a shiver up my spine.

A more important issue is the extent of local content not of radio broadcasting but of television broadcasting, in particular television news services. If the ABA were sitting in the gallery here today-and there is plenty of room for them if they turn up at the moment-I would say to them that the one thing this community wants above anything else is a requirement from television broadcasters in this community that they provide television news produced locally. That would be the biggest blow that might be struck for diversity, particularly diversity of opinion and diversity of viewpoint in this community.

To the extent the motion raises an issue of reasonable substance it has agreement from this side of the chamber.

MS TUCKER (4.23): I support Mr Humphries. I agree there is no point in going on about diverse media ownership if the product is homogenous and the real measure of diversity lies in content. There is always a concern that with concentrated media ownership views unpalatable to the owners will not get a run. More insidious is the tendency of players to direct content at the same mainstream. Such competition for the middle ground militates against variety in the product.

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