Should SBS have a multichannel devoted to programming other than those in English language?
Lobby group Save Our SBS made a submission to the SBS board that it curate a channel devoted to programs in Languages Other Than English, with English subtitles, as a way of returning to Charter.
In recent years the amount of LOTE titles in primetime has diminished on SBS, SBS VICELAND and SBS Food. International dramas from Europe and other international markets will often premiere first at SBS on Demand before late night broadcasts some weeks or months later.
But North American dramas such as The Handmaid’s Tale, The Good Fight, Project Blue Book and Vikings are given prime 8:30 and 9:30 slots to attract better advertising. It’s a trend that has been criticised by rival networks as being too far off Charter.
Save Our SBS President, Steve Aujard, said: “SBS have assured us that the submission was included in the notice papers for the Board’s April meeting and it was discussed at their meeting just before Easter.
“The submission, which was driven by community views and drew on published evidence from reputable sources including four separate studies of different cohorts totalling 6,202 viewers from every metropolitan and rural region nationwide, also presented the case for a different commercial format, one that is commercially less intrusive than that of existing SBS channels.
“For more than a decade Save Our SBS has publicly presented the case – and in meetings told SBS – of the need for this type of channel. It’s what viewers have told us they want.
“Our submission cites independent evidence of a correlation between the decline in primetime LOTE content on SBS and a decrease in social cohesion in the community. After the Christchurch tragedy, it’s obvious that a channel like the one proposed is also needed for social cohesion.”
SBS VICELAND is dominated by US-produced youth-skewing titles while SBS Food, which recently lost its output deal with US-based Scripps Network, was launched after government cuts hit the broadcaster’s revenue base. NITV includes Indigenous titles from Australia and overseas.
The proposal also wants to see less advertising on a proposed LOTE channel, running ads before / after shows, rather than in the middle of content.
“Our members have not forgotten that prior to late 2006, advertisements were between programs only on SBS and the broadcaster specialised in presenting movies and a variety of TV programs in other languages. With the commercialisation of SBS, most foreign language content was moved to SBS On Demand and as a consequence, a number of communities who prefer free-to-air viewing, are now ‘missing out’. These people are no longer served by any Australian free-to-air TV channel,” Aujard continued.
“SBS was created in 1978 to fill a void, then on the ABC and commercial channels. It is time again for SBS to step up again, as it is better placed than any other media to include those who are now ‘missing out’.
Save Our SBS is a not-for-profit organisation and while SBS is under no obligation to consider the proposal, it is understood to have met with serious consideration from Board Directors.
Aujard added, “The previous management did not represent community views in favour of such a channel to the Board so it is a significant step that our proposal has now been brought to the direct attention of each individual SBS Director.”