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Why SBS should not be further commercialised

by Margaret Pomeranz and Quentin Dempster

Now is the time for all good Australians to stand up to fight for a sustainable public broadcasting system in our country, in particular SBS.

There are forces at work out to further commercialise SBS through an amendment to the SBS Act and through the dishonouring or an election commitment not to cut funding to SBS (and the ABC).

SBS is unique. It emerged in 1978 as an initiative of the Fraser Government because of the perceived deficiency of the ABC in servicing the needs of increasing numbers of non-English speaking newcomers.

In 2015 the raison

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Petition opposes more ads

Margaret Pomeranz & Quentin Dempster with Save Our SBS and GetUp! have launched a petition opposing the government’s proposal to increase advertising on SBS. The online petition is on GetUp’s community campaigning website, CommunityRun getup.org.au/saveoursbs

Late last year the communications Minister announced the government will introduce a bill in 2015 that effectively doubles advertising on SBS through a system known as ad-averaging.

Campaign spokesperson, journalist and public broadcasting advocate, Quentin Dempster said, “Margaret and I join this campaign to try to save SBS from forces and strategies which can only destroy it. More advertising will

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Why more ads will be bad for SBS

Last December, Save Our SBS was invited to appear before a joint Party Senate Select Committee looking into the budget cuts imposed on SBS and the government’s proposal to increase SBS advertising. Save Our SBS gave oral evidence having made a written submission to the Committee.

Save Our SBS President, Steve Aujard addressed the Committee-

Thank you for inviting Save Our SBS to this hearing.

Save Our SBS has a dual purpose—advocating as a supporter and friend of SBS and also for consumers of SBS. Whilst we put the case for greater public funding for

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Government breaks promise: SBS funding slashed and more ads to come

SBS’s budget from government will be slashed by $53.7m which includes $28.5m from additional advertising. SBS’s operating budget will be reduced by $25.2m over five years. The revised budget for SBS will be $1.39b for the same period.

The Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull said that the government plans to introduce legislation to parliament in 2015 to amend the SBS Act to allow SBS to change its advertising arrangements, generating $28.5m over the five years. This will occur by permitting SBS to effectively double its advertising quota to 10

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SBS preparing to double advertising and slash services

In a recent Politics in the Pub talk by public broadcasting advocate Quentin Dempster, the extent of government cuts to the ABC and SBS were outlined. Whilst his talk was mainly about the ABC, chunks of it covered the impact of cuts to the SBS. The cuts are a result of the Communications Department’s Efficiency Study into SBS & the ABC conducted earlier this year. Here is an edited version of his talk – the sections that deal mainly with SBS.

The ABC and SBS are in no man’s land at the

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Liberal Party donor appointed as SBS Chairman

Nihal Gupta is the new Chairman of SBS. He takes over more than six months after Jo Skrzynski concluded his five year term.

For more than a week it was understood that Gupta would fill the vacancy of Chairman. Gupta, widely reportedly a donor to the Liberal Party, is understood not to have been the first choice nor made it onto the Nomination Panel’s short list of recommendations.

Other than the Managing Director, who is appointed by the Board, the SBS Chairman and Directors are required to be appointed under a merit based system

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SBS-ABC merger cuts $43.5m

SBS will have its annual funding cut by $2m each year for the next four years while the ABC will face cuts in the order of $9m per year. Both broadcasters will merge their "back office" operations and eight people at the ABC will lose their jobs as a result. The Budget papers show no reduction in SBS staffing levels.

The cuts to be shared by SBS and the ABC total $43.5m over four years which is equal to a one per cent reduction in base government funding of the ABC

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haha LOL very funny

As part of its drive to increase Australian content, SBS is offering funding of $20,000 to would-be writers and producers of comedy to make their scripts a reality. The SBS Comedy Runway is a national comedy initiative to find the next generation of comedic talent. SBS has committed to fund and present a new online pilot once a month, every month.

Applicants must fill out a SBS Comedy Runway Coversheet, provide a short breakdown of the proposed concept (no more than one page), attach a pilot script for a five-minute episode, with a brief

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New Codes defy SBS community

When SBS released their new Codes of Practice at the end of February, they ignored 90 percent of viewers by refusing to include SBS’s definition of a natural break, the insertion of commercial breaks into TV programs.

The Codes are supposed to outline the practices and principles the broadcaster follows in consideration of community concerns and the SBS Charter. Should the Codes be breached, a viewer may take a complaint to the regulator, the Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA). But ACMA has no power to review any guidelines that are

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Skrzynski could have done more

The first two Directors ever appointed based on merit to the SBS Board of Directors were SBS’s Chairman, Joseph Skrzynski AO, and Director, Elleni Bereded-Samuel. Their term on the SBS Board is due to expire next month.

The Skrzynski story

In the lead-up to his five year anniversary, Save Our SBS concludes our series on the historic first ever merit-based appointments to the SBS Board. 

Last month we profiled Bereded-Samuel. Now Joseph Skrzynski

Skrzynski entered the world of broadcasting five years ago with experience as a viewer, listener and financier.

To

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Efficiency study of SBS

The Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has announced an enquiry into the national broadcasters. The ABC and SBS Efficiency Study will not review the broadcasters’ charters, or its editorial and programming decisions.

The study, to be conducted by the Department of Communications, will conclude in April and the findings given to the Minister. The SBS Chairman will also receive a copy.

The last departmental review of SBS was the ABC SBS Review which allowed direct input from the public.

The current study will include a review of advertising on SBS and operational, governance, structural, financial and

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Bereded-Samuel ‘Living Legend’ asset to SBS Board

The first two Directors ever appointed based on merit to the SBS Board of Directors were SBS’s Chairman, Joseph Skrzynski, and Director, Elleni Bereded-Samuel. Their term on the SBS Board is due to expire on 14 March. 

Who is Skrzynski and Bereded-Samuel?

In the lead-up to their five year anniversary of these historic first ever merit-based appointments, Save Our SBS takes a close look at each, their work at SBS and background, commencing with Ms Bereded-Samuel.

Still to come Save Our SBS profiles SBS Chair, Joseph Skrzynski

Bereded-Samuel is one

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SBS merit appointments may be tested

Five years ago, when Joseph Skrzynski and Elleni Bereded-Samuel were appointed to the SBS Board by the previous government and subsequent legislation introduced that determined an appointments process, it was said to remove the politics from Board appointments in favour of a merit-based system in selecting and appointing Directors to the SBS and ABC Boards. Before that, Directors were hired and fired as the Minister saw fit.

Under Labor’s merit system, which Tony Abbott’s government inherited, interested persons are to be interviewed by a panel that is said to be at ‘arms length from the

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Local content to increase

SBS are planning a one-third increase in their local on-screen content this year.

The decision to increase the content came about following a Senate Estimates hearing last year where Greens communication spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam, asked SBS’s Managing Director Michael Ebeid, why the broadcaster had only invested 37 per cent of television advertising dollars on local programs, when, upon the introduction of in-program advertising, an SBS media release had promised that 100 percent of advertising revenue would be used to make Australian programs.

“SBS has directed all advertising revenue to program making and the commissioning

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Précis of a study of 2044 viewers of SBS television on advertising, Charter, relevance and other matters

Earlier this year, Save Our SBS undertook a study of 2044 viewers of SBS television. Those studied came from every State and Territory. More than a third were not born in Australia. The findings of the study form part of a detailed submission to the SBS Community Advisory Committee & the SBS Board. The full submission may be read in HTML or PDF format. Five recommendations are made.

The study found that SBS had not been inclusive of a significant portion of its television (SBS ONE & TWO) audiences, giving preference to advertisers over audiences.

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