SBS has forgotten ‘special broadcasting’ says group

Notable Aussies, including Malcolm Fraser, accuse SBS of straying from its charter and title as the Special Broadcasting Service.

Following the government’s announcement last week that it is establishing an inquiry into the future of ABC and SBS, the lobby group Save our SBS had issued a statement with some impressive signatories, calling on the broadcaster to drop its advertising.

One of them is former PM, Malcolm Fraser, whose government established SBS.

The statement says “big money” was going into the locally produced motoring series Top Gear while coverage of community events and customs had declined.

“Since the introduction of sponsorship and advertising to SBS in the 1990s, the service has steadily become more generalist and less specialist and multicultural,” says the statement.

“English-language lesson programs, greatly valued by new arrivals, have been phased out of the TV schedule. SBS should focus on the special needs of viewers rather than on selling consumers to advertisers.”

A spokeswoman for SBS, however, said the balance between English and foreign-language content had been 50-50 for the past decade. “Save Our SBS is a single-issue lobby group opposed to advertising on SBS, but that decision was made almost 20 years ago and every single dollar of the modest revenue it raises is invested back into content.”

Source: The Age

4 Responses

  1. As a pure English speaker, I enjoy watching some of the programming. It doesn’t have the “prestige” pedestal status as the ABC so it can show different, and edgier programming. I doubt any network on FTA besides the SBS could show, for example, Taxi to the Dark Side.

    I hope SBS embraces the digital multichanneling to deliver programming more closely linked with its original aims whilst maintaining the “different” English-language programs.

  2. Hardly anything in primetime is in a language other than English. SBS had the restrictions on their digital multi-channels removed some time ago, so maybe they should have at least changed the early evening progams on the SBS News channel to include some Australian made multi-language (eg. Italian & English) talk and current affairs programs – sort of a television version of some of the SBS Radio programs but with some English. As it is, SBS is probably an asset that a government looking for extra money in the budget might be tempted to sell.. or I guess more likely Labor will merge it with the ABC.

  3. I am surprised that SBS even had the nerve to introduce advertising between programs in the first place. They might as well introduce ads for their early morning foreign news programs, as well as Nightly Business Report and Newshour with Jim Lehrer.

  4. Nice attempt at commercial-network-style spin, “spokeswoman”, but you know all too well that what Save Our SBS is talking about is advertising DURING programs, not between them.

    I kind of feel about SBS the same way I do about Seven, Nine and (to a lesser extent) Ten these days. They all display the same Telstra-like contempt for their customers.

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