Actor blasts SBS over Top Gear price

Film and TV actor Chris Haywood has called for SBS Television to be sold or station managers to be sacked over a decision to produce a local version of Top Gear.

Haywood, who has appeared in Newsfront, Breaker Morant, Shine, Janus and All Saints, said the reported $10 million budget should be redirected to more “worthy” projects, such as drama or coverage of indigenous issues.

“It’s blatant commercialism in terms of programming,” said Haywood, 59.

“There obviously now is a strong policy [within SBS] to program to create advertising revenue. And this raises serious questions as to just how responsible the board has been in terms of ensuring management complies with the terms of its charter.”

Haywood has publicly said what many industry personnel have privately expressed. The big-ticket price for Top Gear is seen as a commercial fee paid by a public broadcaster. Last month Commissioning Editor of SBSi Debbie Lee left for the ABC. Her departure follows other staff grievances in 2007, including that of Mary Kostakidis.

But SBS’ Matt Campbell said programs such as Top Gear drove revenue.

Top Gear drives more commercial revenue than any other program and that all comes back into my office to be spent on local content,” Campbell said.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

13 Responses

  1. I have to agree with this fella only on the terms that I think its a really poor idea to try and ‘sister’ such a successful show. This may only be because im english but the thought of top gear being diced up and regurgitated into a sort of top gear chicken nugget with an australian accent makes me cringe. the fact of the matter is if i want to see ‘Top Gear’ ill go and buy a dvd or watch re-runs on sbs and thats because i like it, i dont watch other car shows basically because they take themselves way to seriously, the whole thing looks good on paper but when it hits the screen i dont think its gunna turn many heads.

    sorry for the rant but as i said the thought of top gear being re-made just makes me cringe

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with anon 7/1/8 9:34 that it is great to give everyone a real alternative to the rubbish that is on the commercial networks some nights like tonite I reprogrammed my tv so I could watch Top Gear on digital.

  3. Hey, SBS are appealing to my culture- people who like comedy and cars. SBS are the only station I tune into regularly now, purely for their Monday and Saturday night programming… same with a lot of people I know. They’re catering to the minority of people who enjoy things like this and good for them.

  4. Tying in with another article on this site (Jayne Seal praising channel 9 management, why don’t SBS just film the workings of channel 9 management (boys club), I’m sure they could get enough footage that will keep your average bogan/car hoon(ACA/TT trademarked) happy.

  5. It certainly seems to be an exorbitant price for a lifestyle / mag show for SBS, and I think it’s appropriate someone has publicly raised this. Haywood has been around a long time, I don’t subscribe to the comments suggesting he is better.

    For the record, SBS reinterpreted its charter years ago to rewrite multiculturalism as being more than just ethnicity.

    Now it is more diverse covering ethnicity, seniors, youth, gay, disabled etc. It is about the different cultures that comprise Australia.

  6. Finally – Someone has brought attention to the gross inadequcies of SBS! What was once the MULTICULTURAL broadcaster for this country has been turned into nothing short of a Mini-Commercial network.

    The network has clearly been overtaken by a mob completely ignorant of what the network is SUPPOSED to be all about.

    Today the management of SBS program for RATINGS rather than substance – just compare its scheduling today to that of ten or twenty years ago – you’ll see a vast degredation and growing irrelevence to the founding intentions of the network.

    SBS is a runaway train that the Federal Government should either wipe its hands clean of OR whip into line… the SOONER rather than later!

  7. I’m picking that this show is going to flop and flop hard. There will be an inquiry into who thought it would be a good idea to waste 10 million dollars on a car show, which if like most localised version of oversea shows, will be a poorer version.

    p.s. I don’t like Top Gear for the only reason that I think the host aren’t really that pleasant or funny.

  8. I love Top Gear and look forward to seeing an Australian version but you have to agree with Chris’ comments. Think about the SBS charter and Top Gear really doesn’t fit into this. The show BETTER be a raving success and bring in plenty of revenue to spend on more relevant content or heads should roll at SBS.

  9. I think it’s great that SBS are becoming more commercialised because some of the really obscure shows have been crap and appeal to no one. I hear a new comedy called Bogan Pride will be coming out later in 2008 too which is not cheap.

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