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.


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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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Budget outcome: SBS own worst enemy

There’s been a lot of backslapping all round. If you read SBS’s and Minister Conroy’s media releases about funding SBS in the budget, things could not be better. Offering no criticism, SBS welcomed an increase of a measly "$20 million" over the next three years and SBS’s Managing Director, Michael Ebeid articulated a clutch of corporate speak. The similarity between the Minister’s and SBS’s talk is remarkable.

Looking at the figures and rhetoric, it seems that SBS and the government are happy with the direction and funding model of SBS as public service broadcaster. A

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New law deregulates ads

Although the government withdrew its controversial media reform bills package, the legislation that related to SBS passed both Houses.  

The new law guarantees an Indigenous Director to the SBS Board which Save Our SBS welcomes and incorporates most of the SBS Charter to digital services (online).

In applying the Charter to online, the package did not require SBS online services be "diverse" nor use "innovative forms of expression". These unique Charter obligations will remain on SBS free-to-air but need not apply to SBS online programs and internet only streamed radio or TV services. SBS has four digital

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Media Reform: Impact on SBS

Save Our SBS reviewed the government’s Media Reform Bills Package in relation to SBS.

If passed in its current form, advertising will continue on SBS’s internet service but without any of the constraints that apply on SBS free-to-air.

The package allows online advertising – something SBS does anyway – but provides no mechanism for consumer complaints and in this respect will permit SBS to side step the industry regulator, ACMA. Advertising on SBS digital and online services would not be required to be subject to the SBS Codes of Practice. SBS’s Board would develop digital

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What’s on this year

“Distinctive, creative and daring”. That’s how an SBS spokesperson described this year’s television programs. Some of it is. A lot is much the same as last year. While the spokesperson maintained SBS programs “must remain diverse and relevant ”, like all broadcasters the programs on SBS ONE & TWO will vary. However for a number, there is nothing especially ‘SBS’ about them. If programmed on another network it’s doubtful anyone would think, "Hey, that’s an SBS program!"

If you are wondering what to watch this year our sneak-peak review will help. At time of publication, SBS was not able to

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Radio: Big changes ahead

In April SBS will change their 19 year old established Radio Schedule.

Last April, SBS Radio began a public consultation for a proposed Selection Criteria which outlined how languages could be determined in a review of the radio schedule. SBS television could learn from this process of developing a criteria to assist TV in meeting their Charter obligations too.

Almost 1200 submissions were received during the public consultation and considered carefully in determining the final Selection Criteria.

The final language Selection Criteria applied to develop the new SBS Radio Schedule is below:

For Analogue (AM/FM) Radio will be:

Large Languages

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NITV: new SBS TV channel

At 12 noon (AEDT) on 12 December, SBS will launch another television channel, NITV. The National Indigenous Television channel will broadcast on SBS4-digital. NITV has been broadcasting since 2007.

The Channel Manager, Tanya Denning, said: “NITV has been creating and delivering innovative content representing the many voices of the country’s first Australians. We remain dedicated to having our unique languages and culture reflected within the media landscape, and we’re excited to invite Australians of all backgrounds to tune in, and join us in celebrating our rich and unique culture.”

Save Our SBS President, Steve Aujard, welcomed the launch of NITV and

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SBS On Demand

Have you ever missed a program on SBS and wished you had a second chance to view it? Well, there is a way – it’s called SBS On Demand and it’s available from the SBS website.

This service has existed for some time but a while ago underwent a significant upgrade which has resulted in more features. It currently lists an impressive number of programs including short clips such as news and other items.

The service allows you to freely view any of the available programs at your leisure. SBS suggests a minimum connection speed of 256 Kps

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Two new SBS radio stations

SBS now has six radio stations.

In addition to SBS’s two AM and FM national radio networks, the multicultural broadcaster has four digital radio stations. Two are new. All six stations are available on-line.

Less than a month after it was launched SBS PopDesi is proving very popular. It’s the new digital music radio station playing South Asian pop music. Until PopDesi, little was available to satisfy the growing number of young people seeking this. The 2011 census data showed a big increase in Australia’s multicultural youth, with a massive increase in Indian language speakers.

PopDesi follows

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Petition to SBS

Veteran activist Mannie De Saxe has launched an on-line petition to SBS requesting the broadcaster voluntarily cease in-program commercial breaks. The petition is independent of Save Our SBS and is the initiative of Mr De Saxe.

In a statement De Saxe said, "after years of frustration it seemed it was about time to try [a petition] because, we have all been complaining about this for so many years without any breakthrough". He said that in 2006 he put a petition on his blog together with some email exchanges between SBS and himself. He described it

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Go Back returns for second series

For three consecutive nights commencing Tuesday 28th August at 8.30pm, SBS-ONE will be looking to repeat success with the return of the Go Back To Where You Came From series, a show that in series one sent ordinary Australians on the reverse journey taken by many refugees on their way to Australia. In series two viewers will see Australians make their way through some of the most dangerous places on earth to find refuge and safety on their homeland, mirroring the hardships faced by displaced people across the world. They will travel and experience the anarchic cities of Mogadishu,

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Indigenous SBS Code

If SBS were a commercial or community broadcaster, the law would require it consult the public and provide adequate opportunity for community comment before changing its Code of Practice. Established under an Act of Parliament SBS does not hold a commercial licence however that should hardly matter as since 2010 the broadcaster has had a social inclusion policy and stakeholders are consulted from time to time on various matters.

Back in June, SBS amended its Code of Practice to include an interim NITV Code from 1 July, the date SBS took over the Indigenous broadcaster.

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SBS Census Explorer: fantastic online tool

Last month SBS launched the SBS Census Explorer an interactive online tool featuring demographic data gathered in the 2011 Census. The tool can be used to explore the results of the Census data.

On 21 June the Australian Bureau of Statistics released some of the data collected on Census night, 9 August 2011. More data will be released later and added to the SBS Census Explorer.

This is a fantastic tool for visualising Census data.

Demographic data released and appearing in the SBS Census Explorer include: age, religious affiliation, personal income, Indigenous status and languages

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Budget review: ads to stay

The significance of the funding increase to SBS will be lost on the electorate due to a failure of government to address the commercialisation of SBS. The spirit, the very essence of public broadcasting has been lost to the ongoing commercial influence and interference which now has such a strong foothold that any notion of SBS resolving this themselves is fanciful. Until such time as viewers see a less commercial looking SBS, one without in-program disruptions, the government will have failed to gain support from a significant cohort of electors.

Funding boost for SBS

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

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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

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Outsourcing SBS

SBS staff are worried about loosing their jobs to outsourcing as the broadcaster ascertains whether it is more cost effective and technologically better to outsource their presentation and playout departments. Other areas could go. But a spokesperson for SBS said news, current affairs and sport would not be outsourced.

Meanwhile one of the unions representing workers at SBS, the Community & Public Sector Union (CPSU) is taking a multi-pronged approach to save jobs and address the underlaying issue, the commercialisation of SBS. With the slogan SBS – without the special…it’s

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SBS Your Language app for Android

The SBS Your Language app for Android has just been released. It arrived four months after SBS Radio released the Your Language app for iPhone.

The Android version has the same features as the iPhone version; live streaming of SBS Radio 1, Radio 2, the digital only stations POPAsia, and SBS chill, plus a choice of podcasts. The app will display a schedule of programs too.

One of the best features of the app is the ability to be notified at the time a favourite program or language is broadcast.

The only slight drawback of the app is the

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SBS Bill details: how disruptions could end on SBS-TV

Greens Communications spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam has introduced a private Bill that, if passed, would gradually phase out commercial breaks from interrupting SBS television programs by 2016.

When introducing the Bill, Senator Ludlam made clear it was intended to bring advertising practices back into line with Parliament’s original intentions when debating the SBS Act in 1991.

The Senator said SBS received less than a quarter of the ABC’s budget before pointing out that the station had moved-arguably in contradiction of its Act, to full in-program advertising and that this situation had not only damaged SBS and created considerable viewer discontent, it

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Parliament did not intend in-program breaks

When the SBS was established as a corporation under the SBS Act in 1991, the Parliament granted SBS the right to broadcast advertisements before and after programs, and in “natural program breaks”. Although the Act did not define that phrase, the Hansard of the day clearly shows the Parliament intended that “natural program breaks” meant “half time in a soccer match”. No other definition was given.

On this basis, advice was provided to the SBS that it was not allowed to place ads in programs except sport. Ads only appeared between programs

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Program highlights 2012

This year SBS has come up with a television schedule that shows lots of promise. We review more than 15 SBS television programs for 2012. Definitely there are many worth watching. Find out what’s screening, what to watch or catch up on, during the year.

CQ: Cultural Intelligence

On Thursday 22 December at 8.30pm SBS-TWO will broadcast their new conversation series CQ: Cultural Intelligence, bringing together experts and commentators to discuss topics of national importance. Hosted by World News Australia’s Anton Enus, the first SBS CQ forum explores who influences the debate on asylum seekers and cultural diversity;  does the media drive public opinion or does public opinion drive the media?

This show appears to be a rehash of the many panel and discussion programs that have come before it and at first you wonder what CQ can bring to the Australian

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SBS-TV free of ad breaks?

Last week an event of significance took place in the Senate that may have important implications in the funding of SBS, leading to a considerable reduction in the number of adverts cluttering up television programs.

On Wednesday (26/11/11) the government voted in favour of a motion, tabled by Senator Scott Ludlum, communications spokesperson for the Greens, reiterating the value of SBS to Australian society. He also gave notice of a private bill, aimed at removing commercial breaks during programs on SBS television.

The Special Broadcasting Service Amendment (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) Bill 2012 will be tabled next year.

Save Our

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End of ads may be in sight

Today Greens Communications spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam told the Senate that he was giving Notice for a Bill to amend the Special Broadcasting Service Act. He said that would occur in 2012.

It is believed this is for the long awaited Bill to address the issues around the commercialisation of the SBS that has occurred over the past five years. Senator Ludlam promised as much during the 2010 election campaign.

We await with bated breath for an opportunity to read the Bill referred to today, when it becomes available.

SBS has been permitted to broadcast advertisements since

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Your Language app

SBS have released another app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod. This one is for radio. It’s called Your Language. One for Android is on its way. The SBS Audio and Language Content Director, Dirk Anthony, said “I hope [the Android version] will be available within months”.

The SBS Your Language app has a range of great functions including live streaming of SBS Radio 1, Radio 2, POPAsia, and SBS chill, audio on demand – a mix of podcasts and audio highlights. It also has the ability to listen to previous programs, which

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SBS’s aspirations

When SBS speaks at public forums about the ways in which it would like to expand its services, to some extent it’s talking about ‘catching up’ with other media outlets. There’s a long list.

For example, SBS is the only broadcaster without a third television network. And there’s a need for an increased number of SBS radio stations too. After all, there are many more languages in Australia now than when SBS radio began 36 years ago. New and emerging communities, especially from African nations are expanding, although under-represented in our media than their established counterparts. Just as the mainly

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SBS parliamentary friendship group

Three Parliamentarians from opposing sides have united to form a new Parliamentary Friends of group. This one is for SBS. There are many Parliamentary Friends of groups – in our Federal Parliament, but never before has there been one for the SBS.

The group is the joint initiative of Steve Georganas (Labor Member for Hindmarsh), Senator Scott Ludlam (Greens Senator for Western Australia), and, Paul Fletcher (Liberal Member for Bradfield).

In a statement the group said “SBS stands

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Immigration, asylum and Aussies

In June of 2011 SBS broadcast Go Back to Where You Came From, a three part documentary that saw six Australians sent on the reverse journey taken by hundreds of refugees who come to our country. The series generated a great deal of interest in the Australian media (mainstream and social), with comments and reviews on commercial and ABC radio & television, and in The Australian, The Age and on the Amnesty international website. SBS also reported that set new records for online performance on their website. Within

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Refugees: wanted?

Commencing Tuesday 21 June, over three consecutive nights, SBS-ONE will premier a world first event: Go Back To Where You Came From. It’s an unscripted, unstaged, doco-drama-reality program that follows the journey of six Australians from different backgrounds. Their journey will be the reverse of the journey taken by many refugees who come to Australia every year. Together these six will experience the trials many refugees face during the search for asylum.

At the start of the

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SBS on-line

SBS radio has advanced from its humble beginnings of the mid seventies. Then, 2EA Sydney and 3EA Melbourne were it! In the years since, SBS radio has been broadcasting nationally on AM and FM from SBS-Radio-1 and SBS-Radio-2. These have also been available on the ‘net for years and in recent years on digital radio too. But less than a year old are two SBS on-line radio stations.

POPAsia http://www.sbs.com.au/popasia The site blurb reads: “The very best non-stop Asian pop hits in Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean and more – streaming 24/7”. Before

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New Chief at SBS

Mr Michael Ebeid will be the new Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of SBS. He will commence on 13 June 2011.

Ebeid’s broadcast experience has been in the public and commercial spheres.

Previously Ebeid was at the ABC, where he was the Executive Director of Corporate Strategy and Marketing.

Prior to that Ebeid spent ten years with Optus Communications. His last role was Director of  Commercial Operations for the Consumer Division, responsible for strategy, business development, regulatory and finance across internet, Pay TV and telephony. Earlier, Ebeid worked at IBM for nine years in Australia and Asia.

SBS Chairman, Mr Joe

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Multiculturalism in, racism out

With all the to-ing and fro-ing by the Immigration Minister and the Opposition about a nine year boy orphaned on Christmas Island being shuttled to Sydney for an emotional funeral, then back to Christmas Island and now with the boy returning to relatives on the mainland, the recent Click here to read the full story . . .

Debating Australia’s immigration policy

When SBS announced their 2010/11 content lineup with the pledge to ‘push boundaries’, you may wonder how further episodes of Who do you think you are? constitute anything but more of the same. One new program however may actually come good on their promise. Immigration Nation: A Secret History Of Us is a documentary that explores a conflict existing within Australian history; how a nation constructed on utopian ideals of progress and enlightenment harboured paradoxical notions of racial superiority. Beginning with

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SBS-TV celebrates 30 years

Few people are aware that when SBS television began in 1980, the date of 28 October had been discussed as a possible launch date. The new service was to be called Channel 0/28. The O from October and 28 from the date were thought good publicity. But that was a Tuesday night. Hardly a night to launch a new television channel. The previous Friday, 24 October was United Nations Day; a more appropriate day for the launch of the new

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Dateline to have two hosts

Today SBS announced that Dateline will have two presenters next year. Yalda Hakim and Mark Davis will host the program, replacing veteran broadcaster George Negus. He is moving to Network TEN.

Hakim and Davis currently work as reporters on Dateline.

Dateline’s Executive Producer Peter Charley said each will continue to work as reporters. One will present the program while the other is on assignment.

Charley said, “The idea of putting working Video Journalists in the studio to host the program returns Dateline to the essence of what has made it such a distinctive program – Video Journalism lies at the heart of

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Ads stay: SBS disappointed

After months of reviewing their internal operations, SBS has decided to continue with advertising. The broadcaster would have been delighted though if government had offered funding so that in-program advertising would become a thing of the past. During the election campaign, Labor said “in the current economic climate” it could not offer that. The Greens did.

The Chairman of SBS, Joe Skrzynski, told SaveOurSBS.org that as a consequence of not receiving additional funding from Government, SBS must continue to take

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Strong voice for Indigenous communities

SaveOurSBS.org applauds the approach that SBS is taking in Indigenous affairs. The broadcaster is leading the way in promoting the stories of Indigenous Australians.

SBS has acted to increase awareness of the contribution of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities to Australian society and building capacity to learn from and serve Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Recently, SBS launched the Second Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). It builds on the unique content that SBS has demonstrated in its commitment to telling Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander stories. Through a series of objectives and

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Greens & Labor could be best deal for SBS

Although Labor faired poorly at the 21 August 2010 federal elections, it has now been given a second chance in the formation of a minority government.

All the Parties and Independent’s agreement to the way parliament is to conduct itself could result in SBS getting a better deal. Private bills must now be debated and voted on. Labor’s Agreement with the Greens gives the Greens direct access to the Prime Minister on a weekly or fortnightly basis. This could ensure an opportunity for both to act

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Why supporters of SBS voted Greens

Under the 11 year Howard Liberal-National Coalition government, funding for SBS did not keep pace with that required. As a result, in late 2006 SBS began interrupting all programs for advertisements. No one was happy. The Coalition government had abdicated its responsibility for multicultural broadcasting. The Labor party then in Opposition vehemently objected in the parliament and publicly stated in its SBS [election] Policy that “Labor opposes and continues to oppose the decision by SBS to introduce in-program advertising”.

There was some excitement in

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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

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Election promises for SBS

The Greens have promised the most for SBS. Labor more of the same – perhaps, and the Liberals and Nationals are not saying.

SaveOurSBS.org approached the four major parties for their SBS policies. The Greens and Labor parties responded whereas the Liberals and Nationals did not. An overview is provided in the table below – for the SBS policies of the Greens and Labor parties only.

Our analysis and opinion is below the summary table followed by the full text of each party’s SBS policies.

Summary of party policies at a glance

Support SBS as a strong

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Sayonara, adios, goodbye

Cathy Carey writes:- Earlier this month, the 30 or so subtitlers still employed by SBS TV after several rounds of cutbacks in recent years were informed by station boss Shaun Brown that at least 10 of them must go in the coming weeks, and probably more later.

The gloom that pervades the unit could not be further from the excited mood that prevailed over 25 years ago when it was established. Subtitlers at SBS TV have been part of a team which has produced arguably the world’s finest subtitles in a unit built from scratch starting in the early 80s.

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Under funding hits World News Australia

Some staff working in the SBS news & current affairs department are about to be made redundant.

SBS World News Australia has fallen victim to the ill effects of the chronic under funding that has plagued the broadcaster for more than a decade. Already operating with strained resources, the news department can take the strain no more.

In an email sent last week by the SBS Director of News & Current Affairs, staff were told the redundancies “will not be a hands-up exercise”. However the email went on to say that an effort would be made to give preferences to staff

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SBS in 3D

3D television was first broadcast in Australia by the SEVEN NETWORK on 29 October 1983. Eager viewers watched that evening with their red and blue-green cellophane 3D glasses. They cost a dollar. A two tone colour 3D feature was shown and some 3D shorts. The publicity leading up to the broadcast was big. The 3D worked. Sort of. But the technology was

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SBS ads revenue hit

The income to SBS from air time sales has taken a blow. SBS has suffered a double whammy according to SBS Managing Director, Shaun Brown.

In his opening presentation to last week’s Senate Estimates hearing, Brown told the Senate Committee that SBS needed to find a way to offset the hits to the broadcaster’s commercial revenue that have occurred.

Brown said that the hits to SBS’s advertising revenue had come about: “firstly as a consequence of the global financial crisis and secondly because of the explosion of multichannels from commercial broadcasters

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SBS subtitle restructure

This week SBS began announcements of a restructure of its subtitling and closed caption department.

SaveOurSBS.org understands that the restructure has come about because many people who were originally employed to subtitle foreign language programs have found their duties were later extended to create closed captions. Closed captions are the teletext subtitles for the hard-of-hearing on English language programs – not the superimposed subtitles used on foreign language programs.

In a statement to SaveOurSBS.org, SBS management said: “At present we have an over supply of capacity in some languages relative to need. As a result many staff are spending considerable amounts

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Intent, the law & ad breaks on SBS

The purpose of the SBS, the reason it exists, is to be found in the Charter at section 6 of the Special Broadcasting Service Act 1991.

The Charter is very clear: “The principle function of the SBS is to provide multilingual and multicultural radio and television services . . .”

Section 45 of the Act states that SBS may broadcast advertisements “before programs commence, after programs end or during natural program breaks” but no definition is given of a “natural program break” or when that might occur. The Click here to read the full story . . .

New SBS Chair appointed

Save Our SBS has welcomed the appointment of Joseph Skrzynski A.O. as the new Chair of the SBS. He replaces Ms Carla Zampatti A.C. whose five year term expires in mid December.

Commenting on the appointment Save Our SBS spokesperson Darce Cassidy said:

“Mr Skrzynski is well qualified to lead Australia’s multicultural broadcaster. He arrived in Australia as a refugee from Poland after the Second World War. He has held Board positions with the Australian, Film Television and Radio School and the Australian Film Commission and is a former Chairman of the Sydney Opera House Trust. He has been recognised

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Bill bans ad interruptions on SBS-TV

Yesterday the Greens spokesperson for Communications, Senator Scott Ludlam, introduced a Bill that would ban SBS-TV from interrupting programs for commercial breaks. The Bill, would allow SBS-TV to run advertisements between programs only.

In a media statement Senator Ludlam said: “The Bill will not prevent SBS from generating advertising revenue, nor from running advertisements and station promotions between programs”. He added the “character [of SBS] is under threat from the shortfall in public funding”. Previously the Greens had called for more funding for the broadcaster.

The Bill, the Click here to read the full story . . .

No ad breaks on SBS part 2: Minister denies policy

For a quick overview click to read:
No ad breaks on SBS part 1: When is a policy not a policy?

In the May 2009 Senate Estimates the Greens spokesperson for Communications, Senator Ludlam questioned Minister Conroy about Labor’s pre-election policies in regard to SBS interrupting programs for commercial breaks. Part of the proceedings are cited below:-

Senator LUDLAM- You might require a

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No ad breaks on SBS part 1: When is a policy not a policy?

Has the Minister for Communications, Senator Conroy denied the Labor Party’s opposition to the interruption of SBS-TV programs for advertisements?

Responding to Senator Scott Ludlum (Greens) in a recent Senate Committee hearing, Senator Conroy suggested that statements he made before the 2007 election, which had severely criticized SBS management for interrupting programs for commercial breaks, “Labor has opposed and continues to oppose the decision by SBS to introduce in-program advertising” were not official Labor policy, but simply his “opinion”.  According to the Click here to read the full story . . .

SBS questioned over “natural” breaks

On 25 May 2009 at Senate Estimates, the Greens spokesperson for Communications, Senator Scott Ludlam questioned the Managing Director of SBS, Mr Shaun Brown as to how the broadcaster could justify forcing breaks into programs that were never intended to be interrupted. BBC programs and cinema release movies were the examples cited.

Brown took exception to the expression that SBS had forced breaks into these or any programs. However he did admit that SBS interrupted programs that were never produced for commercial breaks. Brown insisted that SBS only had natural breaks which is

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SBS boss admits no funding sought in Budget to wind back advertising

Last month, the Managing Director of SBS, Shaun Brown publicly admitted that SBS did not ask for any funding to “wind back the amount of advertising”. Brown was being questioned in Senate Estimates (25 May 2009).

Senator Scott Ludlam, the W.A. Greens spokesperson for Communications had been questioning Brown about the SBS advertising policies and operations.

Surprisingly Brown also told Senate Estimates that SBS had not sought “revenue to offset the commercial revenue” when SBS recently made its submission to government for funding for the next three years. Brown also said he was aware of the

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Future of SBS: government seeks public submissions

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, is consulting the public on the future of Australia’s national broadcasters, the SBS & ABC. Comments from the public are welcome.

This may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to make your thoughts about SBS known directly to the Minister via the Departments online submission form.

We will make a submission and we strongly encourage you to make one too before 12 December 2008 at the Department’s online form. See URL under the box of our suggested questions below.

You may use any

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The SBS Must Be Special


A PDF of the statement below may be viewed at: http://saveoursbs.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/the-sbs-must-be-special-signed.pdf


The SBS Must Be Special

The Special Broadcasting Service was established by the Fraser coalition government, building on the creation of the publicly funded multi-lingual radio stations 2EA and 3EA by the Whitlam government. ‘EA’ stood for Ethnic Australia.

Concrete government support for multiculturalism was a bi-partisan issue in the mid-seventies, but recently the special nature of the SBS has been under threat.

Since the introduction of sponsorship and advertising to SBS-TV in the 1990s the service has steadily become more generalist and less specialist

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Minister responds to petition

The Minister responsible for SBS, Senator Stephen Conroy wrote to Save Our SBS on 26 August 2008 in response to the petition that we gave to his staff on 8 April 2008. Senator Conroy apologised for his late reply and wrote.

SBS is one of Australia’s most important public institutions.

The Australian Government recognises the importance of its role as a national public broadcaster, catering for diverse interests in the Australian community and reflecting Australia’s culturally diverse society. Issues of funding and independence are crucial to a vibrant and

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SBS Forced 6000 Ad Breaks

In 2007 SBS-TV forced almost 6000 commercial breaks into some 2000 program broadcasts that were never intended to have commercial breaks. Programs made for non-commercial networks, such as the BBC, were interrupted for ads when screened on SBS-TV. In the public interest, Save Our SBS is publishing the times to air and title of every program where SBS-TV forced an interruption for an ad break, when one was never intended by the program as originally supplied to SBS. Save Our SBS is of the opinion that such breaks were hardly natural.

A log of the full list of programs that

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SBS re-branded but still has ads. Why?

A few days ago SBS-TV re-branded itself. Their logo changed. SBS will continue to emphasise its commercial approach but with a new look.

This is the second time SBS has re-branded in a little over 12 months. Just over a year ago SBS World News Australia changed the set and adopted a more tabloid and commercial style of news presentation. Long time news presenter Mary Kostakidis ended up departing the broadcaster.

The idea of a multicultural, non commercial public broadcaster is now but a memory of the past. Will there be nothing special remaining?

The re-branding this time is more than just

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Petition Closes

The No Ads on SBS petition closed today. It is expected to be presented to the Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy in early April.

The petition (full title: NO ADVERTISEMENTS OR SPONSORSHIP ON SBS) attracted more than 7000 signatures which was much more than the target of 5000.

Many people felt outraged when the world’s first multicultural broadcaster began interrupting programs for advertisements in late 2006. Prior to that ads were only shown between programs, not in them. SBS-TV does not hold a commercial broadcast license. It is a public broadcaster funded from

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Private Members Bill Bans Ads Interrupting SBS-TV

Today the leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Lyn Allison, will introduce her private members bill into the Senate that would prohibit SBS from interrupting television programs for advertisements. The bill, the “Special Broadcasting Service (Prohibition of Disruptive Advertising) Amendment Bill 2008“, allows SBS to carry limited advertising between programs only. SBS began interrupting programs for advertisements in late 2006. Prior to that, advertisements were screened between programs only.

The Object of the bill states:

“The object of this Act is to prohibit the interruption

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Bill to Ban Ads Interrupting Programs on SBS-TV

Today the leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Lyn Allison, announced that tomorrow she will introduce a private members bill that would prohibit SBS from interrupting television programs for advertisements. If her bill became law, SBS-TV would be allowed to carry limited advertising between programs only.

It is understood that the intention of her private members bill is to prohibit the interruption of programming on SBS television by restricting advertising to the period between the completion of one program and the commencement of another program.

Prior to the November 2007 federal elections, the ALP stated that, consistent with their SBS policy

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Backlash against advertising on SBS by Darce Cassidy

Both in Canada and Australia anger is mounting against what many see as the destruction of public broadcasting.

In Australia more than 7,000 people have signed a petition at www.SaveOurSBS.org calling for a ban on interrupting programs with advertisements. In Canada a Senate inquiry has recommended a ban on advertising on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and a significant increase in the national broadcaster’s budget.

Senator Lyn Allison has indicated

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SBS Chief says SBS to continue as a commercial network



Despite the election of a new government and the long time stated objection of the ALP to SBS interrupting programs for advertisements, the Managing Director of SBS, Shaun Brown was quick today to call for SBS to continue down the commercial path.


Brown wants SBS to continue to operate as a commercial network.


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