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Why SBS received a funding increase

In the month before the May Budget some 9,171 messages were sent from people in every State and Territory to selected politicians urging government to steeply increase public funding for SBS and remove the disruptive commercial breaks from SBS television. The general public sent emails to the finance and communications ministers, some members of Cabinet, and other politicians according to a preset method. SaveOurSBS.org provided background material about SBS’s finances and links to the Special Broadcasting Service Amendment (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) Bill 2012

Here we publish a representative sample of all emails sent.

The identities of the senders has been removed in this publication as has the date sent, subject heading and each politician’s email address. We only show the body of emails. All campaigners were encouraged to write as they saw fit and had total control of the message content of their email. The original spelling and grammatical errors as they were in each email, have intentionally been retained for this publication. Many senders did not have Anglo names and for a high proportion of these, English may not be their first language. The formatting of each email may appear different on this webpage.

What the campaigners wrote

Here are some of the messages sent in the pre-Budget Make SBS Special Again campaign.

Dear Political Masters,

I write to join my voice to a campaign to see appropriate funding restored to SBS. I understand this is both necessary for survival, as the funding model in place is proving inadequate, and to once again plead with you to remove the unfortunate necessity for program breaks for advertising.

As a regular viewer of SBS, I find the constant interruptions for advertisements to be a major irritation. It disrupts the continuity of the programs and thereby reduces the quality of the viewing, even late in the evening.

SBS provides a major source of programming that is different from the stupefying sameness of the commercial stations – a feature which I find the ABC is rapidly seeking to mimic, under the present management. SBS also represents a much-appreciated alternative viewing opportunity compared with the heavily American-derived programming shown on the commercial channels. For me it is a major source of broadcasts from an array of European and Asian countries (including in the languages of those countries) that are refreshingly different and which I know to be greatly appreciated by my many friends who have migrated from these countries to live in Australia. I consider it to provide cultural diversity to counterbalance the too rapid Americanisation of Australian society. Having lived in different parts of the USA, over many years, I consider that we are importing many of unfortunate social behaviours that are promoted by American TV programs, without developing the counterbalancing attitudes and behaviours that one finds within decent American suburban living.

I urge you to use the opportunity offered in the formulation of the 2012 budget and the subsequent parliamentary discussion to ensure appropriate funding for SBS, so that advertisements can be totally removed from within the SBS programs on television. I put it to you, that even in these difficult economic times, this is a high priority initiative that will more than repay the additional expenditure.

For these reasons I recommend that you support the SBS amendment natural program and disruptive breaks bill that will see their eventual removal over four years. Please support it and in addition, ensure that the SBS is given more money, as public financial support has not kept up with basic operating costs. Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

[sender's name and address supplied]


SBS needs more money. A lot more.

Like many people, I am tired of seeing commercial interruptions whilst watching the SBS. I accept adverts in between programs, but to wedge adverts into the programs themselves is simply unacceptable for a public broadcaster. I wonder if it is even legal to do so. That is why I would like to see politicians of all parties vote in favour of the Special Broadcasting Service Amendment (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) Bill, which will gradually provide the SBS with an avenue to shift advertising out of programs over a 4 year period. I would like to see the government more than triple funding for the SBS and make the Bill become law too.

[sender's name supplied]


I am a passionate SBS watcher. SBS a very significant public broadcaster and delivers a high standard of journalism, particularly in news and documentaries. It has the best world news of any television station in Australia.

Please give the SBS the budget increase it so desperately needs in the May budget.

Not only does the SBS need more funding, legislation is needed to safe guard against SBS having to resort to advertising in the future. This could be achieved if the Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising Bill for SBS became law. It would phase out advertising – no more interruptions to programmes (except sport) and return public funding to SBS.

Vote in favour of this Bill. It is the only way to keep the SBS from falling away from its intended mandate and eventually being bought by a commercial entity. We may never reverse the financial decline at the SBS if this Bill fails to become law.

Yours sincerely,

[sender's name supplied]


Dear Fellow Australians,

I am writing to you regarding a Bill that was introduced this year by Senator Ludlum called the Special Broadcasting Service Amendment (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) Bill 2012.

The aim of this Bill is to put an end to the disruptive advert breaks that currently plagues our SBS television programs by providing a method for the SBS to phase down the in-program breaks over the next three or four years. This is important because these in-program breaks are extremely disruptive and certainly very detrimental to SBS itself and its audience. I am not the only person who strongly objects to them, by all means, as you all must be aware of thousands of objections voiced sometime ago when commercial in-program breaks were introduced. Please do what you can to get this passed and see that the SBS is properly funded in the budget this May for the next three years.

The SBS is one area that the current government has not attended to yet it badly needs increased funding just to keep abreast of daily operating costs.

Entitites, such as the SBS, are of paramount importance as an effective, efficient and well-suited communcation channel servicing our culturally diverse society.

Our SBS must:

- be free of abnoxious in-program breaks (specially profiteering ones);

- to be given dequate and continuous funding; and

- be able to have an independent, diverse and representative Board that would truly reflects our community makeup and which would faithfully take into account our communities’ wishes and aspirations.

Thank you for your time and with my respect,

(Australian Citzen and meticulous voter!)

[sender's name supplied]


I am a passionate viewer of many of the programs provided by SBS.

I would like to draw your attention to the crisis now within the SBS.

It has no money and urgently needs a massive increase in public funds instead of the struggle it has faced relying on reduced income from cluttered advertising during it’s television programs.

The Special Broadcasting Service Amendment (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) recently put up by Senator Scott Ludlum lays the framework of a scheme to fund SBS in a fairer manner and I favour this approach and hope you do too.

Basically, it will see a gradual withdrawal of advertising from within television programs over the next four years with a portion of government funding used by SBS to achieve that, at the discretion of the SBS.

This is a right and proper approach and I hope you and your Party support it as well as increasing funding for the SBS in May.

SBS will not be able to survive nor remain relevant if public funding for it remains at an all time low.

Yours truly,

[sender's name and address supplied]


Dear Minister!

I would like to express my concern about the direction of the SBS.

I’ve been bitterly disappointed with the decline of SBS.

It used to be truly ‘Special’ and unique as a broadcaster and is rapidly becoming just one of a compromising pack. Please stop the decline and let’s have our quality broadcaster back!

Why is it that this public broadcaster requires so much advertising. I understand some adverts between the shows and during sports events, but to interrupt all the programs themselves is ridiculous. Cleary it needs more money. Surely the government should be funding the SBS so that it does not need to have advertising to such a great extent. Leave the commercials to the commercial sector and fund the SBS appropriately.

Give more money to the SBS in this budget and please require SBS cease disrupting programs with a change in the law so they cannot continue to do this.

[sender's name and address of an organisation focusing on disability services supplied]


Dear Minister

The [name of organisation supplied] believe now is the time for the government to provide significantly greater funding for SBS in the May budget.

Multicultural broadcasting needs support to help it operate and function without commercial influence.

In this regard we also urge you to support the SBS Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising Bill 2012 to remove commercials from in programming by 2016 proposed by The Greens.

The SBS was founded on the understanding that funding would come from the government and without reliance on advertisers. The hybrid model over the last few years has not helped SBS meet its charter obligations. It has done SBS no good and failed the community.

In the May budget please correct this situation by increasing SBS funding and by supporting the Greens Bill.

[sender's name and address of an organisation representing ethnic communities supplied]


I would be grateful to any member of your party who will support the SBS Amend (Natural Breaks – Disruptive Adverts) Bill 2012.

It is a serious issue of how our public service broadcaster is to be funded now and in the future.

It is a reasonable proposition that a small part of increased funds be used to retire the in-program breaks.

It seems inappropriate that SBS television has to rely on so much advertising to make ends meet. Due to the stations mandate of serving the needs of our multicultural society, I believe a return to government funding is appropriate. Please consider this when drawing up this Budget.

[sender's name and address of an organisation representing multicultural communities supplied] 


Dear Members of Parliament,

I hope you are also unhappy about the commercialisation of SBS. If so, I am sure you are aware that a bill has been tabled recently by the green senator Scott Ludlum called the Special Broadcasting Service Amendment (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) Bill 2012, which will see the gradual reduction and eventual removal of commercial interruptions during SBS TV programs. It will take 4 years.

The bill will also ensure the future funding of the station by the government. This seems a fairer way to pay for the SBS.

It is equally sensible that a portion of any funding increase be used directly to pay for the removal of these in-program disruptions.

Can I ask for you to increase funding for SBS and to support the bill and encourage your colleagues to do the same.

I am writing to register my support of the Special Broadcasting Service Amendment (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) Bill 2012 and wish to encourage you and all members of parliament do everything possible to ensure its passage into law.

Over the past five years we have seen the interruption of SBS television programs with commercial breaks. Public broadcasting should be free from such commercial interruptions.

The hybrid public-commercial model at SBS has failed.

Advertisers are given priority over viewers despite falling advertising revenue. Therefore I implore you to support the Bill and increase funding for the SBS in the forthcoming budget.

[sender's name and address supplied]


SBS needs more money. A lot more.

Like many people, I am tired of seeing commercial interruptions whilst watching the SBS.

I accept adverts in between programs, but to wedge adverts into the programs themselves is simply unacceptable for a public broadcaster. I wonder if it is even legal to do so. That is why I would like to see politicians of all parties vote in favour of the Special Broadcasting Service Amendment (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) Bill, which will gradually provide the SBS with an avenue to shift advertising out of programs over a 4 year period.

I would like to see the government more than triple funding for the SBS and make the Bill become law too.

We watch SBS constantly and would dearly wish it restored to its former excellence.

[sender's name and address supplied]


I recently had cause to complain to both the SBS and ABC in relation to advertising interrupting programs. Does the ABC interrupt programs with its self-promotion? Well, not during the program but they certainly have tried to emulate the commercial networks by "squeezing" the end credits to insert unrelated promotional video and voice-overs. Why on earth they would copy such crass commercialism is beyond me and I hope the individuals who instigated it have been disciplined.

SBS’s advertising has now "progressed" to the full commercial model; interrupting programs mid-word (which brought about my complaint to them) and, on some occasions, failing to ensure continuity when the program resumes.

I understand that Parliament will soon be considering the Special Broadcasting Service Amendment (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) Bill. This is an important step and I ask you to support it. However, increased funding for the SBS is also essential so that it can move away from its present commercial format and return to its proper public broadcasting role.

It would be even better if such controls were extended to all commercial broadcasting. After all, we taxpayers not only fund the ABC and SBS but provide the profits for the 7, 9 and 10 networks through the advertising costs imposed on the products we buy, and we are obliged to pay that "tax" even if we actively avoid the advertising.

Thank You

[sender's name and address supplied]


I am concerned about the future funding of the SBS.

The broadcaster has been providing multi-lingual output to help our immigrant population integrate into Australia and has a vital role in our cultural life.

Over the past 5 years more and more advertising clutter has made its way into the television programs.

Whilst commercials have been a staple part of commercial television, advertisements are having a detrimental effect on the SBS. They have a mandate to serve the public, not the interests of the commercial sector.

SBS needs a very large increase in funding and I would like a portion of those funds to be used to shift the advertisements breaks out of program to where they belong – between programs, for this to be backed up through legislation. Please oblige this when voting for the Senator Ludlum SBS bill, which will establishes a scheme for funding SBS so they do not need to rely on disruptive advertising breaks in TV programs. It is a reasonable approach.

[sender's name and address supplied]


SBS currently show some fantastic programs that are often educational as well as interesting. However it’s so annoying that they have to interrupt programs with ads because they don’t have enough funding to continue unless they advertise. Surely the Government can support such a very important tv channel.

Before the May Budget I would like to see consideration given to ensuring the financial security of our public broadcaster, in particular the SBS, who have been relying heavily on decreasing advertising dollars for some time now. This is a worrying development and indicates that the funding provided to the broadcaster is inadequate.

Ensuring our public service broadcasters are properly funded is vital for their future.

Please do whatever you can to protect the SBS for future generations of Australians to enjoy and lend your support to the Special Broadcasting Service Amendment (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) Bill 2012 so that an amount of government funds are used to achieve that over and above all else.

Please consider fund SBS in such a way they don’t have to rely on boring old ads.

Thank you for reading my comments.

Regards

[sender's name and address supplied]


Dear members,

In the 2012 Budget I would like you and your party to take time to consider the future of the SBS for the next 3 years and beyond.

I am sure you have noticed that their television shows are now being broken up with multiple advert breaks.

Considering the number of news, current affairs and debate shows they broadcast it seems in the interest of all parties to keep this platform free of distractions. The same thing occurs in movies on SBS but that never happened a decade ago.

This government must see to it that adverts remain outside of the programs, as that is what Labor promised to do in November 2007 and make certain the station is better funded to avoid this happening in the future.

I shall be watching closely in the hope you will support the Special Broadcasting Service Amendment (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) Bill 2012, and fund the SBS whole lot more than you do so now.

Regards,

[sender's name and address supplied]


Dear Members,

I urge you please, not to forget SBS when the 2012 budget is drawn up. For some time now the station has been interrupting its programs with advertisements which ruins the continuity of the shows and detracts from the overall quality.

Furthermore, publicly funded television should not be relying on advertising to the point where they interrupt the programming at all, otherwise it is just like a commercial broadcaster.

We contribute taxes to ensure this situation does not occur.

I therefore recommend your support for the SBS bill (the SBS amendment natural program and disruptive breaks bill) that will see the eventual removal of adverts from within TV shows on the SBS over four years.

Please support it and support the SBS by giving it more money.

Thank your giving this your most serious consideration.

[sender's name and address supplied]


Dear Fellow Free-to-air Watchers,

Public broadcasting is an integral part of our Australian culture: and so is advertising. They don’t make a good mix, but we have learned that they can co-exist.

However: much as Shane Warne’s hair-loss ads and the EZY-LINE kelpie are Aussie icons, I’d love them a whole lot more if they didn’t interrupt the cycling or the soccer replays, or Erotic Tales and my favourite kungfu movies. I’d trade them for all those Al-Jazeera feeds, too, if necessary.

But it shouldn’t be necessary: if the ABC is funded to a level where it can run programming uninterrupted (we get the ABC’s promos and cross-promotions–its equivalent of advertising–in breaks between programming), SBS deserves an equivalent level of funding. At present SBS apparently cannot make ends meet without selling advertising time within its popular programmes. And this does look like a double standard for ethnic/multicultural broadcasting.

I wholeheartedly support the message of SaveOurSBS.org:

"It is clear that the government must intervene to support multicultural broadcasting with significantly stronger funding.

"I urge you to support the Special Broadcasting Service Amendment (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) Bill 2012 and encourage your colleagues to do the same.

"This is the Bill that establishes a framework to fund the SBS into the future and allows them to self-manage its way to having no in-program breaks by 2016.

Happy free-to-air watching.

Kind regards

[sender's name and address supplied]


I would like to request that some of the money to be given to SBS be used to displace ads breaks from inside programs to after the program has finished, and this be coupled to legislation.

I seek two things.

1) increase overall funding for the SBS, and

2) you vote in favour of the SBS Amend (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) Bill when that time arrives, and influence your party to do the same.

I hope you will agree that SBS plays a crucial role in the nation’s cultural landscape, in sharing our diverse stories and helping shape the character of Australian society.

Please give the SBS priority in the May budget.

[sender's name and address supplied]


I wish to raise my concerns I have about the SBS.

Over the past five years we have seen this television service interrupted by advertising inserted into the programs. It is obvious when watching programs that were not designed for interruptions.

I have noticed the shows being cut off whilst in full flow for an advertising break.

This raises two issues.

Firstly, why does the SBS carry advertising when it is publicly funded.

Also, how has the station arrived to the position where it needs adverts to fund itself.

I would encourage you take any action you can to remove these adverts from within the programs and better funding the SBS in the up coming budget with a portion of funding used to retire these breaks from program.

[sender's name supplied]


I hope to see all Parties uniting behind the Special Broadcasting Service Amendment (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) Bill 2012. This is a great Bill as it will both secure a future funding model for the SBS and remove advertising from breaking up their programs into unwatchable fragments.

Please support the SBS amendment Bill and begin by providing funding for SBS in this Budget to make up the shortfall from past years, at least so that the SBS can operate without needing to outsource all its operations to commercial, for-profit companies.

[sender's name supplied]


Dear Members and Senators,

I am writing to you in relation to the upcoming Senate SBS funding bills, and Senator Ludlum’s bill to eliminate advertising disruption on the broadcaster’s programs.

As a devoted viewer of SBS since its rollout to regional NSW in the mid 1980s I have been distrubed by the erosion of funding revenue and the insertion of advertising into the programming.

I’ve observed the impact of SBS upon relatively isolated populations of people on the Monaro & Far South Coast of NSW over the last 30 years; the positive influence of SBS cannot be under estimated. In some cases it is the first time these local people, mainly descended from Anglo-Irish settlers, have encountered the rich varied cultures that now compose our Australian population. The food, arts, movies and music programs have opened their eyes and awareness and promoted tolerance and acceptance in the regiional areas which, unlike the major capital cities, do not have much migration nor a variety of ethnicity. SBS news is the ONLY news program available free-to-air in this country that informs us of world news in enough detail to have an objective ‘big picture’ of international events.

The introduction of advertising into the programming of SBS has been disturbing; apart from interrupting the program it calls into question the integrity of the broadcaster. Restoring funding levels to a point where the ads can be reduced is a desirable situation that you have the power to help enact. Should you decide to support increased SBS funding you have my full support, and no doubt that of many other electors.

sincerely,

[sender's name and address supplied]


I am writing to say I support the SBS and hope you do to, and that the government increase funding for SBS in this budget.

I also ask that you support the SBS Amendment (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) Bill 2012 that will free the SBS from reliance on advertising, in the long term.

The advertisements have been crowding SBS television programs and for not much return. I do not understand why a public broadcaster, funded by taxes should present as if a commercial station.

Advertising mid-program is not only aggravating it also goes against the spirit of publicly funded broadcasting. I therefore encourage you to support more public funding for SBS and all efforts to remove advertising from appearing mid programs.

Regards

[sender's name supplied]


SBS is at cross roads and needs your support in the coming Budget.

I would like to request the members of your party support the Special Broadcasting Service Amendment (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) Bill 2012.

It’s time to remove adverts from breaking the flow of television shows and increase the public funding for SBS.

If it is reasonable, use a portion of future funding to end commercial breaks from disrupting SBS television programs as part of any funding increase.

I absolutely loathe commercial breaks within television programs and in my opinion SBS & ABC are the better channels and need your support. These channels have better programs, much more interesting and informative.

The commercial channels 7, 9 and 10, are forever running behind their advertised times. When they print the TV magazines they never factor in the time it takes to play the advertising breaks and consequently every evening program after the 6.00pm News is always running later than advertised.

[sender's name and address supplied]


The SBS has played an important part in Australian cultural life for many decades but the funding for the SBS has been so low that it is no longer able to function.

It needs financial support from the public wallet in the budget in May.

Reliance on advertising dollars has proved fatal as it has set multilingual content aside in appealing to more and more advertisers. This clutters up the stations programs and has been detrimental to the quality of the stations output.

There is a bill that could see this problem resolved – the SBS amendment bill. It would remove advertising from disrupting the programs over the next few years while establishing a scheme for SBS to manage the extent of change up to 2016 in shifting adverts from in-program to intra-program.

I hope you will do what you can to support the Special Broadcasting Service Amendment (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) Bill and also fund SBS more in the budget so that it can abide by its Charter.

Signed:

[sender's name and address supplied]


For the sake of SBS and those that work there, as well as the viewers and listeners who rely on it every day, please give it more money and vote in favour of the Special Broadcasting Service Amendment (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) Bill 2012 as this will help SBS to be like it once was, special.

The Bill will mean that between now and 2016, SBS will slowly wind down the amount of adverts in programs and move them to appear between each program only.

It is fair that a fragment of future funds be used specifically for that.

I want this, and so does SBS.

At the next election, I will remember how you acted in this regard.

[sender's name supplied]


It is time to drop the ads from disrupting SBS programs through legislation. Supporting the Special Broadcasting Service Amendment (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) Bill 2012 is a way to achieve this.

It is highly desirable to put a stop to pernicious commercialism at SBS.

During the entire time that Labor has been in power, SBS has become more commercial yet the ALP Policy in the 2007 election was – Labor has opposed and continues to oppose the decision by SBS to introduce in-program advertising – but SBS still has these in-program breaks.

I would like all Parties to vote to pass the Bill into law.

When I cast my vote at the next election, I shall remember how each politician voted on this Bill.

I will also take note if funding for the SBS has not increased significantly to enable the SBS to operate without disruptive breaks inside the programs.

It is time to significantly raise government funding for the SBS in the 2012 budget.

[sender's name and address supplied]


The above snapshot is highly representative of the thrust of the content of the 9,171 messages sent in the pre-Budget Make SBS Special Again campaign. Varying compositions of the same basic desires were BCC’d to SaveOurSBS.org of the emails sent to Minsters, MPs and Senators. Without a doubt, the overwhelming attitude of the electorate was that government ought to increase SBS’s funding and remove the in-program disruptive breaks through legislation, in the May 2012 Budget.

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