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Page Archive: SBS Doc’s: Truth About Ads

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SBS Secret Documents Reveal Truth About Ads

Since SBS began interrupting TV programs for advertisements in late 2006, SBS has maintained that ads in program are necessary for the operation of SBS. However current and former staff at SBS and many in the wider community, have believed that the decision by SBS to interrupt programs for advertisements is driven more by a certain philosophical ideology on the part of the senior management and Board of SBS than any financial constraints that the public broadcaster may have. As such, many have felt that the attitude of SBS conflicts with the SBS Charter and certainly not what a public broadcaster should aspire to.

Until now it has been very difficult to prove that SBS management have adopted the approach just referred to. However two documents have been given to Save Our SBS (SOSBS) that show that SBS is more concerned with pleasing the advertisers, putting them first, than any concern that SBS ought to have to comply with the SBS Charter.

These two documents explain the truth about why SBS is now interrupting programs on SBS-TV for advertisements. SBS did not intend that these documents be read by the general community.

The first document SOSBS has obtained is titled: Independent Assurance On The Movement Of Audience Loss Due To Changes In Intra Break Strategies. The second document is called: Stand Out Stand Apart — Introducing SBS Island Breaks.

SBS commissioned the first document which was written by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. They compared the period before SBS began interrupting TV programs for ads to a period when SBS was interrupting selected programs for ads. SBS were seeking an opinion as to why less people were watching SBS in the period that programs were interrupted for advertisements. Deloitte investigates and consults in areas that include accounting, assurance and advisory, tax, management, financial, and e-business.


The two periods compared were 1 October 2005 to 31 October 2005 (the baseline period when programs were not interrupted for ads) and 9 October 2006 to 4 November 2006 (the trial period that SBS interrupted programs for ads). Similar programs and the numbers of viewers watching from each period were compared.

Robert McKimm, Partner at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu wrote his report for SBS on 13 November 2006 and shortly after that date and despite fewer people watching SBS during the in-program-advertising-trial period, SBS began interrupting all TV programs for advertisements.

Around this time SBS wrote their own report: Stand Out Stand Apart — Introducing SBS Island Breaks. However that report was not generally available to the public. It was intended to be seen only by those in the advertising and media buying industry. The purpose of this report was to attract advertisers to SBS. The 13 page report was signed by Richard Finlayson, Director of Commercial Affairs, SBS Television.

STAND OUT STAND APART — Introducing SBS Island Breaks page 2

It is this report that clearly shows that SBS now considers that its primary role is to appease advertisers above and beyond all else. The argument put forward by SBS that it was merely running ads (in program) to support program content must now be seriously questioned after reading this SBS report.

SBS uses the phrase “Island Breaks” in the report, which is their code for ‘interrupting programs for advertisements’. The report argues that Island Breaks will mean that advertisers will now get what “they’re paying for”. The report speaks directly to the SBS advertisers’ and states that: “your brand, [now has] a real chance to stand out and stand apart [from other advertisers’]”. The thrust of the argument is that if programs are interrupted for ads (instead of placing ads only between programs) the breaks will be shorter and the audience will therefore remember “your brand” and buy your product. The report ask the advertisers’: “After all, what’s the point of paying for a million viewers if most of them aren’t paying attention?” If programs are interrupted you have a captive audience.

SBS Island Breaks [means that] advertisers can engage with [the] audience even more deeply. Doing more for advertisers through multi-platform engagement [means] the introduction of Island Breaks is only one of many ways SBS can connect advertisers more deeply with their customers.” The focus of this SBS report is for SBS to “connect” with the advertiser and not the viewers. SOSBS believes that that is clearly against the spirit to which any public broadcaster should aspire.

Prior to SBS running ads, the customers of SBS were the viewers. Clearly the customers or clients of SBS are now the advertisers, and, the advertiser’s customer is the viewer.

This report confirms SBS’s abandonment of the viewers, in favour of the advertisers, and therefore the very reason for existence of SBS.

As the advertisers are now the client of SBS and not the viewer, SBS is bound to and does give top priority to their client, i.e., the advertiser. The attitude of SBS is reflected in this report. There appears to be a total disregard on the part of SBS to consider the SBS Charter with such an attitude and gung-ho approach to chasing the advertising dollar.

Despite the two documents referred to, SBS maintains that SBS has not abrogated its responsibility to the viewers. We think otherwise.

For a detailed explanation and analysis of the SBS Charter and why advertisements conflict with the Charter, refer to the FAQ SBS Funding and FAQ SBS Advertising & Legislation pages on this web site.

If you have any documents that you want to pass on to Save Our SBS just email us via the Contact Us page on this web site.

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Sign the petition to protect SBS, stop the ads and maintain our multicultural public broadcaster funded fully by government. Click http://petition.saveoursbs.org and wait while you are redirected to the petition server.






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