SBS is seeking local content quotas and wants the ability to “second window” titles that attract government funding on Subscription TV such as Wentworth and No Activity.
In its submission to the Environment and Communications References Committee last month, SBS called for a 30% primetime Australian content on its primary channel, to deliver more Charter-aliqned content to audiences.
It follows the 2012 Convergence Review noting that public broadcasters have a mission to support Australian content in meeting their Charter obligations.
But SBS also advised it was not in a position to increase its Australian content without additional funding.
“The implementation of this quota would require an increase to SBS’s current commissioning budget. Actual costs would depend on genre focus, available screen agency funding, and government support,” it said in its submission.
It also wants access to government-funded titles which currently play to limited subscription audiences, such as Foxtel’s Wentworth and Stan’s No Activity. SBS has recommended ‘second-window’ rights in a “timely” manner.
“This will maximise the value of the government’s investment in the content and benefit the Australian community as a whole- not just those who can afford to pay an additional subscription fee,” it suggested. “While projects may appear on a subscription television or streaming services for the initial window, it should be a condition of the grant of public funding that there be a distribution agreement for these projects to have a second window on free-to-air television.”
Lobby group Save Our SBS backs the call for a 30% quota, which it says is currently around 7% across 4 channels, and wants to see a permanent multi-lingual channel established.
Save Our SBS President, Steve Aujard said, “Currently, there is no minimum content quota set for SBS yet to satisfy Charter obligations, clearly a high degree of Australian content is necessary.
“The Charter also obliges SBS present programs in their preferred languages – in languages other than English (LOTE). So we’re asking for two things: 30% (later 55%) first run fully-funded Australian content on the main SBS channel, and a new – separate – SBS channel with programs predominantly in LOTE.
“Surveys tell us that SBS audiences want foreign language movies and TV serials in other languages, as well as quality Australian content. With multi-channelling, both ought to be possible.”
Steve Aujard questioned the current model of advertising on SBS to fund Australian content.
“…evidently the model has problems; no one likes programs being disrupted numerous times for commercial breaks on the public broadcaster, and revenue from advertising is about 1/20th of what is needed if SBS were to schedule 30% Australian drama and far short of that needed for SBS to achieve even half the Australian content regulated for commercial free-to-air television.”