read with considerable interest, your report (Aug. 3) on the Catholic Radio and Television Centre, and the report in the "Catholic Standard" of the same date, on the Catholic Communications Centre in Dublin. The Dublin Centre is undergoing a reappraisal, none too soon I guess, and not too late I hope, to produce something useful. It would be a good idea if London did the same.
Perhaps you might encourage your readers, who must include many people in the field of comm co lc at ion s, and on the periphery of it, to voice their ideas, and so use the laity effectively, instead of just a few voices on a Commission. Your Correspondence Page is an ideal medium for stimulating ideas and axing a few hoary, outdated misconceptions.
May I kick off, not necessarily with criticisms, or for that matter, concrete ideas, but just a few questions which perhaps someone will answer. For though Maureen Vincent has made me think about them, her dainty feet are obviously anxious not to tread on large male toes.
Question One. Your report starts by saying that the project is allowed an annual budget of £28,000, a sum which comes from the E50,000 which can be raised by Communications Sunday collection: (a) "Can be" is very vague; is £50,000 raised by the collection?
(h) And if it is, what happens to the £22,000?
Question Two. Quoting Fr. Agnellus, ". . . we have the annual subsidy made available to us out of the Papal Corn munications Day collection." I can only vaguely recall the document passed at Vatican II on Commucations — was there any mention of an annual collection? Or did it merely stress the importance of drawing the attention of the laity to communications? Has Communications Sunday been relegated to yet another annual collection, lumped together with Peter's Pence, etc.?
Question Three. Unless your writer has misinterpreted the situation, may I take it that the work of the Centre is largely that of the role of teaching. (She claims, "... it is best known for its teaching.") But then later in her story, Miss Vincem says: "Residential students are charged only £25 per week. In view of the expertise and facilities available, it is quite obvious that this fee has to be heavily subsidised. A similar course of training offered by the B.B.C., costs in the region of LI 10 per week."
If training is the main function of the Centre, let us assume £20,000 of the £28,000 is applied to it. My mathematics tell me that 181 people coud have been trained by the B.B.C. for the same amount, why not? And were as many as 181 people trained at Hatch End?
Question Four. No doubt Fr. Agncllus going to New Orleans brought in some more funds, not for Fr. Agnellus, who un doubtedly devoted them to the Centre, but why not use his talents as a communicator on our television channels and in Our press? Why don't you, Sir, invite him to write something for the "Catholic Herald," and if he has to go to the States, why not ask him to write a first-hand report for you on what happens there?
Question Five. Professor James Halloran, who, I vaguely remember, wrote for you many years ago (why not ask him again?) is Head of the Department of Communications at Leicester University. Have any of the Bishops ever thought of sending a priest, a nun or a layman to Leicester University, to prepare a thesis on the Role of Communications in the Church, which might ultimately help them to consider the future of the Centre, and the future of Communications in the Church? Let us hear from one Bishop who has and we will applaud, and I hope you. Sir, will commission him to write an article.
Question Six. (I am in the swing of it now, so I hope you will allow me to transgress slightly.) There is, I believe, a National Catholic Press Office. Where is it? What does it do? Are reports sent to it from all the dioceses around the country and are they redistributed to you, the other Catholic papers and the national press — there is little
evidence of it from your selective report concentrated on the south of England. Question Seven. There is some sort of Press Office at the Vatican? I recall that when it was first established, the first press release was, "No Comment." Does it have telex communications with its English counterpart, and then are these passed to the national, secular and Catholic press? If not, what do they do?
Dr. Cruise O'Brien, Minister of Posts and Telegraphs in Ireland, speaking recently in Co. Mayo, proposed the setting up of an independent Irish Newsagency, which nevertheless the Government would be prepared to subsidise, but not to control. Dr. CruiseO'Brien realises the value of distributing news of Ireland, whether good or bad. "Go and teach all nations," is a simple and direct message. In the field of communications, our interpretation of it appears to be, "Set up the means whereby it can be done and you are O.K."
That is enough, even for me, and no doubt, Sir, for you. Now do let us have some answers. If we don't, I must assume that those involved are chicken, and if there are no other letters, that I am in the minority of one and that your readers don't care about communications. And if so, why do they bother to buy your paper. And don't blame the summer holidays. Your paper doesn't cease to sell in August!
J. Kemp London E.C.I.