Broadcasting POWER OF COMMONWEALTH TO CONTROL WIRELESS BROADCASTING OF FIXED AND MOVING PICTURES: WHETHER TRANSMISSION OF PICTURES BY WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY IS THE TRANSMISSION OF ‘MESSAGES’ WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY ACT
WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY ACT 1905
The Director of Postal Services has forwarded for advice the following memorandum:
- The Wireless Broadcasting Advisory Committee in its examination of the prospective developments in the sphere of broadcasting recognises that sooner or later visual broadcasting may become a commercial possibility. It is necessary that, when that time arrives, the services should be coordinated with the audio broadcasting services. There appears to be some uncertainty as to whether the Commonwealth Government has the statutory powers to control the wireless broadcasting of fixed and moving pictures.
- I shall be obliged for an expression of opinion concerning this matter so that, in the event of the position being uncertain, the necessary representations might be made to the Government.
The Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905–1919 provides for the control and regulation of the transmission and receipt of messages by means of wireless telegraphy, and of the establishment, erection, maintenance and use of stations and appliances for the purpose of transmitting or receiving such messages.
The question to be determined, therefore, is whether the transmission of pictures by wireless telegraphy is the transmission of messages within the meaning of the Act.
The new Oxford Dictionary defines the word ‘message’ as ‘a communication transmitted through a messenger or other agency; an oral or written communication sent from one person to another’.
Whilst some pictures may be messages as so defined, all pictures are not necessarily so, and whilst the matter is not free from doubt, I am inclined to the view that pictures are not messages within the meaning of the Act.
In my opinion, therefore, the Commonwealth government has not the necessary statutory powers to control the wireless broadcasting of fixed and moving pictures.
[Vol. 23, p. 837]