The SBS “Off-Charter” List

Key SBS shows Great British Railway Journeys, Michael Mosley: Trust Me I’m a Doctor, Gourmet Farmer*, Destination Flavour Japan*, Vikings and The Good Fight do not align with the SBS Charter according to commercial TV networks.

FreeTV Australia asked Media Development and Regulatory Adviser Dr Murray Green, previously a previously Director Corporate Strategy and Governance and Director at ABC, to assess the top 50 shows in 2017 on SBS, SBS VICELAND and SBS Food Network.

He concluded that some 50% of SBS programming, 54% of SBS VICELAND and 62% of SBS Food Network were not aligned with the SBS Charter to reflect Australia’s multicultural society.

Titles more on Charter included Eurovision, Filthy Rich and Homeless, Struggle Street and Shaun Micallef Stairway to Heaven.

FreeTV listed the shows in its submission to the Competitive Neutrality Inquiry Panel into ABC and SBS. Almost all 17 pages of its submission target SBS, as the sector chases advertiser dollars at a time when the pie is shrinking.

However FreeTV has also called on the Government to provide longer term funding certainty for SBS beyond the current triennial funding model so that it is less reliant on advertising.

SBS


Suggested SBS Television Programs Not Aligned with SBS Principal Function:

Great Continental Railway Journeys (5)
A UK produced series on epic rail journeys across Europe. While most informative, not directly aligned with SBS principal function to reflect Australia’s multicultural society.
Italy’s Invisible Cities (8)
This UK series uses up to date technology to go beyond conventional archaeology to discover hidden remains. Informative and educative but not related to SBS principal function.
Titanic: The New Evidence (10)
While informative, this UK documentary does not appear to contribute to an awareness of Australia’s multicultural society.
Great Wall of China: the Hidden Story (11)
This UK documentary examines the structure of the Great Wall. Informative but not aligned with SBS principal function.
Great American Railroad Journeys (14)
Former UK politician Michael Portillo gives his perspective on these US rail adventures. Appears not aligned to SBS principal function.
The Night Manager (15)
The US produced drama based on the work of John LeCarre, and set in the Arab Spring, does not appear aligned to the SBS principal function of contributing to an awareness of Australia’s multicultural society.
Dunkirk: The new evidence (23)
This UK documentary is most informative and produces fresh perspectives on this pivotal military campaign. However, it is hard to see as being aligned with SBS’s principal function.
Michael Mosley: Queen Victoria’s Slum (25)
An innovative series from the UK that seeks to re-imagine living in London’s nineteen century slum conditions. However, it is difficult to see alignment with the SBS principal function of reflecting Australia’s multicultural society.
The Silk Road (29)
This BBC documentary series is most informative but it is difficult to see as being related to the principal function of the SBS, to reflect Australia’s multicultural society.
Real Vikings (33)
This US documentary series explores the origins of the Vikings. Informative but hard to see as related to SBS’s principal function: informing, educating and entertaining in order to reflect Australia’s multicultural society.
The Good Fight (37)
A US drama series based around a Chicago law firm dealing with matters of terrorism, cyber-bullying, censorship, hate speech and fake news. It is hard to align this content with SBS principal function of entertaining and informing to reflect Australia’s multicultural society.
Britain’s Pompeii (38)
Secrets of China’s Forbidden City (40) Scotland: Rome’s Final Frontier (41) Extreme Railway Journeys (42) Alcatraz: Escaping the Rock (43) Rome’s Invisible City (44)
Vikings (45)
Ancient Egypt’s Lost City (49)
These overseas produced documentaries are both educative and informative but do not educate and inform with the objective of reflecting Australia’s multicultural society, the principal function of SBS.
Clean Eating: The Dirty Truth (46)
An informative UK documentary but lacks a context of Australia’s multicultural society.
Michael Mosley: Trust Me I’m a Doctor (47)
This UK documentary series is both educative and informative but lacks a context of reflecting Australia’s multicultural society.

SBS VICELAND


Suggested SBS Viceland Programs Not Aligned with SBS Principal Function:

The Fifth Element (3)
A science fiction movie, starring Bruce Willis and while entertaining, does not appear to align with the principal function of the SBS.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (4)
A vintage US space thriller that has recently been remade. The content is difficult to align with SBS principal function.
Pulp Fiction (5)
This 1994 Quentin Tarantino classic appears outside the SBS’s principal function to entertain reflecting Australia’s multicultural society.
Stargate (9)
The Stargate Team rescues a young girl only to find she is a bomb threatening the whole planet. Vintage sci-fi entertainment but appears outside the SBS’s principal function.
Alien Resurrection (12)
A science fiction great that has strong entertainment values but appears not to be aligned with the SBS’s principal function of reflecting Australia’s multicultural society.
Monty Python’s Meaning of Life (14)
Vintage UK comedy and satire but does not appear aligned with SBS’s principal function.
Robocop (16)
A classic film dramatizing police brutality and the role of corporate power. Strong entertainment but it is difficult to see as aligned with the principal function of SBS.
Hugo (17)
Martin Scorsese’s film about an orphan boy living in a Paris train station. Highly acclaimed but appears not aligned with SBS’s principal function.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (19)
A 1989 US comedy about two indolent students approaching their history lessons by going back through time. Strong entertainment value but difficult to see as fulfilling SBS principal function.
Aliens (22)
Part of the Alien series. See comment in (12).
Kill Bill Vol 1 (26)
Another classic from Quentin Tarantino, which is a fantasy about a bride waking from her four-year coma. Does not appear aligned with SBS principal function.
Death Proof (27)
Also from Quentin Tarantino. A stunt man stalks his victims in a death proof car. Difficult to see as meeting expectations of the SBS principal function.
Big Trouble in Little China (28) Scarface (30)
While cult classics, it is difficult to see how these films relate to SBS’s principal function.
The Iceman (29)
A US crime film about a true story hit-man Richard Kuklinski. Strong entertainment value but does not easily align with the principal function of the SBS.
Ronin (32)
An action adventure US film about the activities of a team of former intelligence agents starring Robert De Niro. Hard to see as aligned with the principal function of SBS.
Three Kings (33)
George Clooney stars in this film about a group of US soldiers in pursuit of hidden gold at the end of the Gulf War. Not apparent as being consistent with the principal function of SBS.
Soylent Green (35)
A 1973 US science fiction film starring Charlton Heston as Thorn, a detective in the New York Police Force in 2022. Does not appear to align with the SBS’s principal function.
Gadget Man (38)
A UK documentary series with informative content about living modern life. However, has no context about reflecting Australia’s multicultural society.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (39)
A US police comedy series from Fox then NBC. Well made television but the content does not appear to fit within the principal function of SBS to inform and entertain reflecting Australia’s multicultural society.
Blue Lagoon (40)
A 1980 US romance and adventure film starring Brooke Shields. While this is vintage cinema it is hard to align with SBS’s principal function.
Killer Joe (42)
A 2011 US black comedy film about a victim in debt to drug lord who hires a hit- man to kill his mother in order to redeem an insurance policy. Difficult to conclude that this film fits within SBS’s principal function.
Taxi Driver (43)
Martin Scorcese’s film about an ex-marine who works the night shift as a taxi driver in the 1970’s. Entertaining but does not appear aligned with SBS principal function.
The Brothers Grimm (44)
This classic fantasy film produced in the US is most entertaining, however, it is difficult to align with the principal function of SBS.
Apocalypto (45)
Mel Gibson’s film about the Mayan kingdom and its drastic efforts to resist demise. Hard to see how it aligns with SBS’s primary function.
The Adventures of Tintin (48)
Steven Speilberg’s work, with Peter Jackson, is a great testimony to motion capture movie making. However, it is not clear how it fits in within the principal function of SBS.
2001 Space Odyssey (49)
Another vintage film but hard to see how it aligns with SBS’s principal function.
Get Shorty (50)
John Travolta plays a mafia operator on the way to Hollywood in this classic film. Good entertainment but hard to see as aligned to SBS’s principal function.

SBS Food Network


Suggested SBS Food Network Programs Not Aligned with SBS Principal Function:

Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes (1)
A UK produced series that has a wide range of perspectives on food origins, for example, pasta. Informative but lacks any direct linkage to reflecting Australian multicultural society.
Secret Eats: Arctic Circle (2)
A US produced series that reveals food delicacies not commonly known. Entertaining but not directly aligned with SBS principal function of reflecting Australia’s multicultural society.
Man v Food (4)
A series that explores the challenge of consumption on a grand scale. Produced in the US and while entertaining does not appear to be aligned to the SBS principal function of reflecting Australia’s multicultural society.
Restaurant Impossible (7)
A US produced series exploring restaurants established in difficult or unlikely places. Does not appear aligned to SBS principal function.
Rick Stein’s Spain (9)
Most informative UK series about the Spanish origins of many foods but does not appear linked to SBS principal function of reflecting Australia’s multicultural society.
Rick Stein’s French Odyssey (10)
This UK series is both informative and entertaining but lacks alignment with the SBS principal function of reflecting Australia’s multicultural society.
Andrew Zimmern’s Bucket List (11)
A US series where the host explores favourite culinary locations. No apparent alignment with SBS principal function of reflecting Australia’s multicultural society.
Italy Unpacked (15)
An art historian and a chef explore the culture and food of Italy. Informative but does not appear aligned with SBS principal function of reflecting Australia’s multicultural society.
Cake Masters (17)
A US series that explores what is possible in the presentation and decoration of cakes. Does not appear aligned with SBS principal function.
Underground BBQ Challenge (18)
An entertaining US series but appears not connected with SBS principal function of reflecting Australia’s multicultural society.
Ching’s Amazing Asia (22)
British food writer and television chef explores Asian cuisine in this Singapore based produced series. Informative but does not appear linked with SBS’s principal function to reflect Australia’s multicultural society.
Mystery Diners (23)
Undercover restaurant intelligence makes this US series good entertainment. However, it is not apparent in fulfilling SBS’s primary function.
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservation (24)
This international chef travels the world to discover new dining experiences. Entertaining but does not appear aligned with the principal function of SBS.
All Star Holiday Special (26)
Seven food personalities feature in this US produced program celebrating being at home for the holidays. Appears to lack alignment with the SBS principal purpose of reflecting Australia’s multicultural society.
The Great Food Truck Race (43)
A US produced series that is entertaining and informative in relation to the food truck industry. However, no apparent linkage with SBS principal function.
Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern (46)
A US exploration of historic locations that are associated with a particular cuisine. No apparent alignment with the principal function of the SBS, to educate, inform and entertain in order to reflect Australia’s multicultural society.
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (48)
A US produced series that crosses the country visiting distinctive and stand-out food experiences good and bad. Not aligned with SBS ‘s principal function.

*NB: FreeTV has not supplied an explanation why Gourmet Farmer nor Destination Flavour Japan are off-Charter and has been approached for comment.

26 Comments:

  1. The SBS was in an earlier age considered to be too Greek when it was finding it’s way from very small beginnings, but as with all things you change with the times or lose out and now the SBS is outshining the ABC for program content and snubbing their nose at the commercial networks as well, so enough of the politics from the canny protectionist FTA lobby groups, it’s unlikely that FTA programmers would give viewers the chance to see most of the shows listed in this article anyway, especially with their obsession with prime time ratings and value added content.

  2. This is from the late Les Murray in 2010 from article from this (fantastic) site tv tonight. (Les Murray tells why SBS isn’t an ethnic network)

    “The whole idea of SBS was to open the eyes of Australians to the rest of the world. Because up until they had only seen content from Australia itself, from the UK and from America. Those who were non-immigrant Australians were blissfully unaware of what the world was like, and that’s why SBS was set up,” he said.

    So I find it hard to believe that somehow docos like “italy’s Invisible city’s” don’t allign with the charter, I think sbs’s ultimate goal is the play stuff that the other networks won’t and looking at that list they have done that. The truth is it’s the commercial networks that are changing sbs is just picking up the slack.

  3. I don’t disagree with some of the titles on this list but the extent of this list and some of their deemed “no” entries does seem rather vindictive. SBS was not chartered just to present multicultural Australia but to also present a multicultural view to Australia and I think some of their so-called “no” titles would still be on charter.

  4. SBS needs to tone down on some programs such as 60’s Batman but at least they show great stuff other networks wouldn’t touch while places such as ABC are wasting money on stuff such as the US Office.

  5. Maev....Sydney

    The only ‘true’ Australians are the first nation…indigenous people…therefore. …I as British/European stock…am as much an immigrant as anyone else…so SBS had every right to program for me also….I have proof we came here by boat !

  6. The Networks are within their rights to complain about SBS because it looks good in the eyes of the shareholders but doesn’t fool everyone.
    If the Govt expects SBS to earn revenue from advertisers then it must amend it’s charter accordingly. By restricting SBS’s commercial content it has to attract the larger advertisers and more viewers with popular programs. SBS is not community TV.
    I have a decent sized TV and enjoy seeing movies in the correct format, no pop-up ads, the watermark out of frame and less ad breaks. Let 7, 9 & 10 try that!
    The circular filing cabinet is awaiting the report.

  7. Just to make the list longer? Otherwise, why is Mystery Diners listed four times, 23 31 34 & 37, and Man v Food twice, 40 & 44, and Secret Eats Arctic Circle twice, 2 & 6? That list looks as if someone pinned it to a wall and threw red and green darts.

  8. A move by competitors to express their displeasure that they did not choose to buy access to these shows, or a genuine concern about the Charter.
    I know which I think it is. If it weren’t for our public TV stations Australia would be stuck in a media morass of reality dross.

  9. Do find it interesting that Travel Man is on charter but Gadget Man is off charter given they’re essentially two different interpretations of the same idea.

  10. Event Horizon on charter, Aliens not.

    There are multiple examples of inconsistencies I can see, but without knowing their criteria, we can’t really call it out for being a load of crap.

    How much did Free TV pay for this report? How about the commercial three start investing more in local production instead of lobbying hard against the country’s fitfh rating network?

  11. So Rick Stein’s anything, and Ching’s Amazing Asia are no-no but anything with Luke Nguyen is OK. Whilst Destination Flavour Singapore is OK Destination Flavour Japan is not. ?? (Rick Stein is not an Australian. He’s a migrant, i.e. born on in Churchill, Oxfordshire).
    Well now we know what FreeTV Australia Media Development and Regulatory Adviser Dr Murray Green has been doing for the past year.

  12. Hi David, question,,, is it Free TV and the other networks business what is on SBS , when they dont want to buy the same shows ?? and hassent SBS had to broaden it programing for add revenue due to funding cut to stay afloat ?

    • SBS is a public organisation. It’s everybody’s business how taxpayer money is spent, what is on SBS and if SBS is doing what it’s supposed to effectively. You can make a submission if you want. Hanson actually requested the inquiry, a democratically elected member of the Senate who represents a constituency, and the Government instructed the Ministry of Communications to hold it.

  13. Surely a reasonable response to the criticism of the movies shown on Viceland would be:
    SBS is providing these films to address the large cultural population of people who don’t need to see Devil Wears Prada or Dean John once again.

    • Firstly that is not SBS’s function: “The principal function of the SBS is to provide multilingual and multicultural radio, television and digital media services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians and, in doing so, reflect Australia’s multicultural society.” Secondly it is the ABC’s function and it gets $1.04b pa to do it. So why have them waste money duplicating services and advertising to try to poach viewers from each other. SBS was going to show Silence of The Lambs, Rocky IV, Rain Man and Zero Dark Thirty which have been on TV just as many times.

  14. So basically anything popular or anything educational but not Australian or current because programmes about multiple cultures from around the world will not appeal to a multicultural audience.

  15. Commercial TV networks are claiming that certain programming does not reflect multicultural society when it does in the sense that they are foreign programs anyway and do reflect an international scene that is related to modern multicultural Australia in an age of globalisation. I do also miss the days when SBS had more foreign language content, such as French movies and the short film programs Eat Carpet and Shorts On Screen.

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