SBS has received the biggest funding increase ever.
The Government will provide an additional $158.1 million to the SBS over five years. SBS will use some of the funds to launch a new indigenous free-to-air television channel when it acquires NITV, the National Indigenous television channel. NITV was never a free-to-air-service.
SBS’s Managing Director, Michael Ebeid said “SBS is honoured and excited to be delivering this new service which will vastly increase the opportunity for the telling of stories from and by Indigenous communities, and make those stories more accessible to audiences across the country.” The Indigenous channel will begin in the second half of 2012.
The funding boost for SBS represents a 27 per cent increase on base Government funding over the next four years. This figure excludes the cost of operating the transmitters.
Minister Conroy said that this is "the most significant funding boost SBS has ever had, and will ensure SBS can continue to provide a unique broadcasting service that includes comprehensive television, radio and online services.”
Whilst no specific mention was made of retiring in-program commercials breaks, Mr Ebeid hinted that the SBS would now be in a better position to reconsider its approach to this – when he said, "the funding increase will offset the slower growth in commercial revenues experienced by SBS, in line with trends across the media industry."
SBS’s rate of growth from advertising has been negative since 2010.
Meanwhile Greens communications spokesperson, Senator Ludlam who has been a very strong advocate for the SBS, and the need for government to steeply increase its funding said, "In a tight budget in which many portfolios faced serious cuts, the fortunes of SBS have swum against the tide. No doubt, we could always have hoped for more, and indeed the finances of the station will remain tight for years to come. But the commitment of $158 million is the most significant funding boost the SBS has ever had."
Senator Ludlam acknowledged the recent Save Our SBS campaign in which ordinary people sent personal emails to MPs and Senators urging that government increase SBS’s funding and for the removal of in-program disruptions. The Senator thanked "the many advocates for the station within the Parliament, and in particular the ‘Save Our SBS’ group who never take ‘no’ for an answer."
There is no doubt that Minister Conroy and his staff also put the case to Cabinet in a very convincing manner, that the SBS is worth every dollar. And it is.