D-Day for SBS

Tonight’s Federal Budget represents a huge turning point for SBS.

The public broadcaster is awaiting good news in its triennial funding.

It’s no secret that funding has been at rock bottom for SBS. Three years ago it was seeking $70m per year to fund four channels and nine digital radio channels. It was disappointed with just $20m in additional funding over three years.

At the same time ABC was rewarded with $136m in extra funds.

SBS raises an additional $50m in advertising revenue, limited by the amount of commercials it an run.

Since becoming Managing Director mid-2011, Michael Ebeid admits to spending a large portion of his time working towards a positive outcome with the government, supported by Bruce Meagher, former Director, Strategy and Communications.

Since then the government has asked SBS and National Indigenous Television service (NITV) to work together to increase Indigenous content on free-to-air television. The Convergence Review also recommended SBS increase its local content to 22.5% on SBS ONE -that’s music to the broadcaster’s ears. It knows the government can’t call for increased content without increased funding.

SBS has no local Drama in production nor any announced projects, having cancelled the series Dusty. But it has found form with audiences via Go Back to Where You Came From, Tour De France and Who Do You Think You Are?

Ebeid has previously told TV Tonight SBS will be able to “hit the ‘go button’”  soon after the Budget with new projects. This week it launches entertainment series Bollywood Star.

“The commercial networks have been given a $250m license rebate which was a free-kick, no-strings-attached and they’re out there in the market with that extra money. The ABC is out there in the market with their $180m so between the two of them there’s $430m in the market that we’re needing to work against and it’s very difficult,” Ebeid previously insisted.

“I’m hoping that given Senator Conroy has taken care of the ABC, pretty much taken care of the NBN and the Free to Air Networks, that we’re the last part of his portfolio that needs a bit of attention.”

Disclaimer: David Knox blogs Eurovision for SBS.


  1. Given the spare bandwidth in the broadcast spectrum for SBS that is currently used to wastefully duplicate SBS1. There can be the option of broadcasting National Indigenous TV nationally on the Freeview platform as SBS 3, or use the existing spare bandwidth that is currently used by that call sign. That would be one suitable option and service for SBS to provide to the community.

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