SBS will launch SBS2 on June 1st -ahead of knowing the outcome of its triennial funding in the federal budget.
Speaking at the Get Ready for Digital conference today, Managing Director Shaun Brown indicated the new service could only continue with government support.
“SBS2 means more of the world’s best stories, more in-language and first run films, more sport, more news and current affairs and more chances to engage with the best that the world has to offer,” he said.
“SBS2 will not simply be a time-shifted version of SBS1 although we will increase the opportunity for Australians to access our quality news, current affairs and sports content that is so popular on our main channel.”
In July it adds the Ashes in England and the Tour de France.
“We will show both events live and free-to-air. The Ashes, as a sport on the anti-siphoning list, will be shown live on SBS1 while the Tour will be broadcast live, free-to-air on SBS2, streamed live online and shown live on SBS1 between the Ashes matches,” said Brown.
“SBS has been a passionate supporter of keeping key sporting events on free-to-air television and on SBS in particular.
“SBS stepped into the anti-siphoning fray in the lead-up to the 2005 Ashes cricket series after public outcry and ensured that coverage of the most exciting Ashes series in the history of the game was available freely.
“SBS has also played a vital role in delivering football and cycling fans regular doses of World Cup action or showing international fixtures such as the Tour live and free-to-air.”
The Ashes and the Tour will be followed by an expansion of international film. SBS also plans to expand its in-language entertainment and documentaries.
However, Brown added,”But let me be clear. We are launching SBS2 ahead of Government funding assurance because we believe without new services like this the public will remain indifferent to digital take up. But only Government support will ensure we can continue with this new service.
“And without Government support we certainly won’t be able to implement the full range of SBS2 content. Which is why our intentions to expand our in-language news services and add English language tuition and in-language children’s programming are on hold.
“We will also not be immediately able to include the planned strand of Asia-Pacific focused content,” he said.
SBS has asked the government for funding which would enable the launch of a fully fledged SBS2 and, in the future, expansion to SBS3 and SBS4.