SBS adds NSW COVID updates in Arabic & Vietnamese

Real-time interpreting of NSW press conferences at SBS Facebook, SBS Radio.

SBS has launched live interpreting of the daily NSW Government COVID-19 press conference in languages other than English.

The national-first initiative provides real-time interpreting of the press conferences in Arabic and Vietnamese, streamed live every day on the SBS Arabic24 and SBS Vietnamese Facebook pages, SBS Radio (for Arabic on SBS Arabic24), with additional languages being introduced including Mandarin and Assyrian shortly.

SBS Managing Director James Taylor said, “SBS is uniquely placed to reach and engage those who speak a language other than English, and we are pleased to be working with the NSW Government to deliver this important multilingual service at a time when access to reliable information and urgent health and safety updates is so critical.

“This expands on SBS’s ongoing work providing essential support for diverse communities during the pandemic, delivering trusted, independent and accurate information in more than 60 languages across our multiplatform services.

“As the country responds to the impacts of the latest COVID-19 outbreaks and the national vaccination rollout continues, SBS is proud to be the place for multicultural and First Nations communities to access vital news and resources, to ensure all Australians receive the information they need to protect themselves and their communities.”

The initiative, launched as a pilot program to support the dissemination of critical information and updates to culturally and linguistically diverse communities, shows the live video stream of the daily NSW Government press conference but with in-language interpretation as the primary audio. Initial streams of the service in recent days have received significant engagement from communities.

This program builds on SBS’s ongoing work in providing essential support to keep communities informed and safe through its range of multilingual services and resources, focused on sharing vital information that they may not otherwise be able to access – in addition to comprehensive coverage in English across SBS News and Current Affairs.

SBS’s multilingual services include dedicated daily COVID-19 updates produced by all SBS Radio language services for their communities, in addition to regular programming. SBS has also introduced targeted updates for communities impacted by the lockdown of Local Government Areas, including the latest news and restrictions, shared on social media.

In March 2020, SBS launched the SBS Multilingual Coronavirus Portal, in more than 60 languages, to curate all SBS’s digital COVID-19 content in one, easily shareable destination: sbs.com.au/coronavirus. Since then, there have been more than eight million unique visitors accessing SBS’s COVID-19 content across our in-language digital offering, as SBS has continued to provide articles, podcasts, and videos about outbreaks, vaccinations, and information on how to keep well.

2 Responses

  1. The United States of America has been doing it for years as well, with Spanish often being the default secondary audio programming (or SAP) due to the large Spanish-speaking population. At the moment, ABC and SBS has audio description (recently introduced on SBS World Movies as mentioned here a couple of months ago). I wholeheartedly support the idea of foreign language tracks for free to air television, especially with those who not only want to watch something in language, but also for those learning the language as well, as immersing in the language helps with acquiring language skills.

  2. An issue in recent years is language accessibility on televisions in Australia. It seems that Europe had an early uptake of secondary audio programming and multilingual settings and options for broadcasting that are somewhat easily accessible on the remote. The impetus would have been the demographics of some European cities where there is bi/trilingualism or cultural diversity. When watching a channel like Eurosport in Europe for example, you can switch between several different commentary languages.

    I haven’t seen these language option functions or options on Australian televisions and I don’t think my television is able to access audio descriptions either.

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