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SBS a worthy election issue

In a media release issued yesterday the President of SaveOurSBS.org, Steve Aujard, called on the government and Opposition to include SBS in their election policies.

Mr Aujard accused the Labor and Liberal parties of showing little regard towards SBS.

“Despite more than 12,000 emails sent to leaders of all parties from visitors to the SaveOurSBS.org website in the past few weeks, pleading for a promise to increase funding for SBS to free it from advertising, neither Labor nor Liberal are interested”, Mr Aujard said.

“Beyond a few nice words of support and a warm fuzzy glow, Labor is offering little for SBS. Its only forward policy is to enshrine into legislation a transparent system of appointments to the SBS Board – something the Opposition had objected to. However in government, Labor failed to act on their existing policy of opposing the decision by SBS to introduce in-program advertising. The electorate have not forgotten.

“By comparison the Liberals and Nationals don’t even have an SBS policy but unconfirmed reports are that the Liberals may slash SBS funding in favour of the further commercialisation of SBS followed by a sell-off. That would be a tragedy for public broadcasting in general and multicultural broadcasting in particular”, Mr Aujard said.

“If the Charter were watered down and advertising restrictions de-regulated, a partial or total sale would generate billions. It would be the end of multicultural broadcasting.

“We would like the Liberal party to state their position but so far they have refused to do so despite our written invitation. Aside from prior contact we are somewhat surprised at their refusal to engage now. They are fully aware of us, our submissions to government and that SaveOurSBS.org has been mentioned a number of times in the parliament.

Mr Aujard said that although SBS was already budgeted until mid 2012, voters wanted to be told now that government would increase base funding for SBS after that date. “SBS needs a massive injection of funds so it can expand its television and Internet services in particular and be free of advertising. It’s ironical that although Labor has committed $43 billion for broadband rollout, it can’t commit a single cent to help SBS develop its Internet service. A tiny fraction of the $43 billion would more than cover all the things SBS so desperately needs to expand and be free of advertising.

“To date, it is only the Greens that have issued a promise that would increase funding for SBS so it could expand and be free of advertising backed up with legislation as per a Bill they already have in the Senate”.

Speaking about the Election promises for SBS Mr Aujard said, “It’s a national disgrace that although Australia produced the world’s first multicultural broadcaster, our political leaders are now no longer proud to fund the organisation adequately, leaving SBS to run off the smell of an oily rag”.

For more information see Election promises for SBS at http://saveoursbs.org/archives/1396

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