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$4m shortfall at SBS

Cash-strapped SBS continues to do it tough as new managing director Michael Ebeid warning of cuts to staff and programmes.

It’s no surprise to learn that SBS has a $4 million budget deficit, as reported in today’s Australian.

Last month new managing director told TV Tonight that he had cancelled upcoming Drama series, Dusty due to funding issues.

“Our budgets are just so skinny at the moment, it’s really frightening,” he said.

While the ABC is funded at around $1 billion, government funding to SBS in 2011-12 was $220m. The network raises an additional $50m in advertising revenue.

But there has been over-spending in various divisions with the director of news and current affairs, Paul Cutler, conceding the news division had also overspent by “several hundred thousand dollars”.

Despite this, former TEN news chief Jim Carroll, has been hired on a short-term contract to help refresh World News Australia. Next year it returns with a new set and a later bulletin at 10:30pm.

Ebeid recently told a parliamentary inquiry, that advertising revenue had decreased by $16m. Having made savings of $12m, there is still a $4m shortfall.

Without further funding staff and programs will be cut from the broadcaster.

Ebeid admits a large portion of his time is focussed on funding from the May budget.

“I’m spending an inordinate amount of my time working on the Triennial funding so that we can get money for more Australian content which would include a big chunk of Drama and I believe that’s really important for us going forward,” he said recently.

16 Responses

  1. sbs was fantastic to about 2005 –

    soccer has slowly but surely taken over sbs –

    I hate it that the government is forcing one sport , soccer , down my throat –

    eg, all the soccer promos + soccer shows + European soccer competitions etc (even the

    SBS 2013 Financial Report has photos of soccer players on its first 2 pages)

    plus SBS pays the Football (soccer) Federation of Australia $8million a year to show an A-League match free to air on Fridays

    ____________________________________

    if SBS gets gutted soon it can thank the soccer

    lobby for a big contribution to its demise

  2. The benefits of having SBS (and the ABC) continue to decrease as it becomes cheaper and cheaper to have more channels. That is not to say that I don’t love what both of them do, but the genres they once had near-monopolies on, they no longer do. Even in the FTA world in most cases.

    @Baz’s proposal to merge the two is sound, however it may be better again to merge some things while retaining substantial independence.

    Cross promotion is perhaps the biggest one. SBS has shows that more people would watch if they knew they were on. Unfortunately, SBS’s ad carrying status gets in the way of this. If the point of SBS is to get people to watch things, then additional promotion via the ABC outlets may well be worth more than the ad revenue they’re getting.

    Putting Dateline and Insight on News 24 would bolster it a little (and increase the audience of the two shows by a smidgeon), but would have almost no effect on it’s headline news programming. WNA can add almost nothing of value, there’s probably more valuable original news content in SBS’s sports shows.

    Perhaps more beneficial would be putting SBS’s Australian comedy back catalogue on ABC2. An SBS/ABC lifestyle channel would also work well.

  3. @RR: I agree. SBS is the best FTA channel, but having two government funded channels means a massive duplication is administration overheads which I think is a waste of money. Also, at present there are two taxpayer funded networks at the markets trying to outbid each other for programming! How dumb is that? One organisation could administer 8 channels easily, and there would be no need to lose any of the programming we love on SBS, it would just be better spread on niche channels. ABC1,2,3 could all still exist pretty much as they are. ABCNews24 would absorb all the SBS news instead of endlessly repeating news as they currently do. There could be a movie channel for all the films (foreign and in English), an arts and music channel, a sports channel, and maybe a factual/doco channel.

  4. Oh yeah Baz that would be great. I’m sure the hundreds of Foreign Films, niche comedy series and documentaries that SBS air would get a run on the fairly conservative ABC. [/sarcasm]

    SBS is the best channel on FTA. Would be a very sad day for Australian television if it was to go under.

  5. Col. You’re implying that buying those TV rights isn’t money well spent but that’s not true at all. The World Cups are one of the only things that make SBS a guaranteed profit. Ad revenue is down by 16 million this year because last year they made almost that amount in gross ad revenue from the WC.

  6. What is every networks obsession with more news? It seems like anytime I turn on the TV now there is a news program on, moring, mid morning, afternoons, evenings, late night. Geez, how about something else?
    I wish though that SBS would keep the same set, I have always liked their set and graphics.

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