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Commercial networks want more Eurovision, less Brooklyn Nine-Nine on SBS.

Commercial networks want new rules surrounding SBS and ABC charters.

Free TV Australia has lodged a submission the Competitive Neutrality Inquiry Panel calling for more of Eurovision, which is good news for SBS hoping to stage Eurovision Asia, but less Batman and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

The commercial networks are targeting the Charters of the public broadcasters which they argue has encroached upon their commercial terrain at the same time as the advertising market has diminished and global players such as Netflix, Facebook and Google rise.

“Like most Australians, we value our national broadcasters. They have an important role in our media landscape,” said Mitchell.

“However, over the last 5 years SBS TV has moved away from its principal role as a multicultural broadcaster. Much of its programming is now indistinguishable from the existing commercial networks.”

Free TV CEO Bridget Fair said “Independent analysis has confirmed that of the top 150 shows across SBS One, SBS VICELAND and SBS Food Network, over 55 per cent was commercial content unaligned with their Charter.

“We need less Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Batman and more Eurovision and Kabul Kitchen.

“That’s why we need greater regulatory oversight by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to ensure that our national broadcasters remain distinctive, deliver on their charters and do not duplicate commercial services. But more importantly deliver the public policy outcomes they were set up for.”

SBS has long argued the ‘cultural’ in ‘multi-cultural’ extends to more than ethnicity, to include other cultures (gay, youth, disabled, etc.) and that broadly-appealing content helps revenue to re-invest in local content.

SBS managing director Michael Ebeid last year told Senate Estimates, “….we do from time to time acquire broader content so that we can attract a broader audience and cross-promote other pieces of content that are more Charter-aligned, if you like. We’ve been doing it for years, but now that we are doing it online the only reason for complaints is because of Nine’s ownership of Stan, effectively.

However SBS has also come under criticism for multi-lingual content being increasingly pushed out of primetime.

Free TV is proposing a new requirement would be introduced for SBS to take account of the services provided by the commercial sector with ACMA to report on the performance of the national broadcasters in delivering on their charters.

Free TV has also wants the ABC and SBS Codes of Practice to be registered by the ACMA in the same way as the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice.

“We have recommended that the Panel reinforce the crucial role that national broadcasters play in the lives of Australians. Our proposals are absolutely focussed on that,” said Fair.

“All Australians need strong and vibrant national broadcasters that deliver strongly on their existing charter obligations.”

The government agreed to the inquiry as part of One Nation backing Media Reforms last year.

No word on whether Free TV want to see funding increased for Eurovision Asia, which was due last year.

21 Responses

  1. I get the point the commercial stations are putting and accept it to a certain extent.
    i would like to see SBS replacing one of their channels ( probably the food one ) with community TV as community TV probably shows more multicultural content than the combined efforts of Vice & food channels. It also has the benefit of promoting the local industry with giving up & coming talent a place to home their production skills

      1. Been saying the same thing for years myself. The SBS signal splits 12 ways at the moment on a state/captial city basis so it is technically possible to migrate the three still on air incumbants in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth and make them statewide. States that currently have no community TV could take a national mix until a local service starts up or resumes? For it to work, SBS would need to be paid by the Fed Govt to carry these independant services through an ACMA approval process of some kind?

    1. Out of the three stations, the Food Channel is the only one we watch consistently. The content that is really inconsistent is the soft (bordering on hard) porn that makes up most of viceland. For some reason, if porn comes from overseas that makes it “cultural” instead of seedy.

      Remove all that content, put the better content onto SBS1 and the food channel, and turn viceland into a community channel, which I agree is a very good option.

  2. While I’m not exactly supportive of some of SBS’s programming emphasis lately (I’m not sure how movies like Rocky IV, Mamma Mia and Rain Man really fall within SBS’s purpose) I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the commercial networks who have taken viewers for granted for years and dumbed the market down with trashy disposable programming, and now they’re hurting because the viewers now have the power and the technology to go elsewhere for something more substantive, and SBS has taken some initiative to pick up shows that the commercial sector have either had no interest or lost interest in long ago? Seems that they’re just trying to blame SBS for their own shortcomings.

  3. I’m finding lately that there is rarely anything on the Commercial networks that interests me, and fortunately ABC and SBS come to the rescue. Lift your game, or risk becoming more irrelevant than you already are.

  4. Instead of whinging about SBS, pick your game up FTA. You’ve clearly dropped the ball, and SBS has come in and scored a goal. And just saying look at the cast of B99, pretty diverse there, compare that to anything FTA airs.

  5. I ended up watching Batman last night purely because Gardening Australia on ABC was nothing more than a best-of with most of their stories from dating from around 2014 (and declared as such) but with Costas hosting pieces from 2018.
    The Penguin and Batman were far more entertaining.

  6. Sorry but this is outrageous behaviour from FTA networks. For years they had millions pouring in from ad revenue, and now times are getting tough they want to kneecap any and all competition. And where was the FTA network that wanted to screen Batman?

  7. Naturally SBS are gonna show shows that are likely to attract a bigger audience as they become more and more dependent on advertising revenue. Getting rid of the ‘hybrid’ funding model might solve this.

  8. SBS airs quality drama and documentaries that the commercial station either don’t want, or sold to them.
    Brooklyn Nine-Nine was available to the commercial networks for more than a year. None would buy it. SBS picked it up. The Good Fight went to SBS because TEN passed.

    1. Exactly right, Jason. I rarely get furious about TV stories, but this one is outrageous. I would watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine wherever it was, but none of the FTA commercials deemed it worthy of buying, so all power to SBS for identifying quality content and making sure it gets seen.

  9. If the commercial Networks don’t want SBS airing “their” commercials they should lobby the Govt to make SBS fully Govt funded. If SBS is buying “their” programs why not pay a bit more to get them.
    Here’s another nightmare for them, a privatised ABC getting it’s revenue from advertisiing.

  10. This makes me so furious.
    Thank goodness for the sbs. They are showing quality programming (Handmaid’s, Good Fight and many more) while the commercial networks screen endless reality

  11. Rent seekers. Disgraceful. Still trying to get an audience by changing the rules. Tip: Try making interesting scripted programs and you won’t need to ask for help like this…..

  12. I hope nothing changes. The commercial networks would only stuff things up like showing the good shows at ridiculous times and continually interrupting the story line, like half way through a sentence, with commercials.

  13. I agree in that SBS has shifted from it’s original charter. There are more English speaking shows than foreign language. Definitely more ‘commercial’ programs aired.

    1. Broadcasting TV in foreign languages makes no sense as a multicultural policy. Even people who speak the language would prefer to get the DVD or stream the show without paraphrased English subtitles. The people watching them are mostly wealthy English speakers in the AB demographic, and there aren’t many of those so like even The Bridge they end up on around Midnight to avoid reducing SBS’s advertising revenue. SBS has discovered it’s more profitable for them to put most content on On Demand rather than TV.

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