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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 establishing POPAsia it was known that many Asians did not own a radio set and younger people had a preference for listening to music and radio on-line. The uptake of the service, measured by the number of hits to the site, has been very impressive for SBS. POPAsia appears to be filling a void Australia.

Anther  radio station, SBS chill, was also launched on-line. Its purpose is not as distinct as POPAsia nor is its relevance to the SBS Charter clear.

SBS chill http://www.sbs.com.au/chill is a middle of the road music station. Below an on-line-player, the webpage displays a selection of previous and coming tracks with an opportunity to click and buy on selected tracks. A click will redirect to the exact track on the iTunesApple site. It’s convenient but none the less, a marketing ploy. It’s unclear if there’s a financial kick-back to SBS. The SBS chill site reads: “Relax and enjoy chilled sounds from around the world streaming 24/7 on SBS digital radio and live online”.

SBS also stream on-line radio news and current affairs on World News Australia Radio http://www.sbs.com.au/podcasts/naca/radionews. Like World News Australia on SBS-TV, their on-line radio service is excellent.

SBS has an equivalent to iView but without a name. SBSview might be a good one. Whatever it’s called, it is not easy to find either. Rather than click through an array of menus and screens, the direct link http://player.sbs.com.au/programs is worth remembering. It will redirect to: Sneak Peak TV; Full Episodes; and, Web Extras.

Unfortunately many of the on-line TV programs begin with an advertisement which you can’t scroll past. If you just want to browse until you find the program you like, this can be off-putting because you might end up seeing the same ad at the beginning of each program until you locate the desired TV program. One of the recent on-line ads was for the wine festival State, which was viewable at anytime of day for every program on the site that carried the ad. This raises the question of advertising on-line. Are SBS doing this responsibly? Advertisements for alcohol are not allowed on television during times when children might be watching and the same standard ought to apply to the SBS website too.

The development of the SBS website has been slow. It has also been without government funding.

One of the impressive features of SBS’s website, is the multiple Language Site drop down menu.

SBS.com.au has input from World News Australia, television, program specific sites, and radio. Streaming and download services are available. There are SBS blog sites, a corporate section and more.

But it’s not all rosy. There are an unacceptably high number of broken links, and clicks that go to nowhere. Written reports, submissions and material in the public interest is often moved and removed as fast from the site as it appears. SBS have removed most of the content that was pre 2009; material from the old website. However, it is difficult to build a website that is big. And the SBS site is massive.

It had a major make-over about 18 months ago. It needed it. But it needs to be overhauled again. Rebuilt.

It’s not a mobile friendly website. There are some SBS apps for mobile phones but these are limited.  Mobile apps are not cheap to develop, especially when the main site is not already mobile-friendly. At commercially discounted rates, there may be no change out of $75k per app per system for a site that is already mobile friendly. If SBS are to develop their internet presence, they need to act for users of the iPhone, Android, Windows, Blackberry, Symbian, and generic mobile systems. Considering that SBS has never received any specific government funding to develop the internet service, it’s not doing too badly.

Aside from it being slow and difficult to navigate through, some basic understandings and principles ought be developed within SBS, like don’t delete any text based material ever. Especially if it’s a SBS submission, report, code, guideline or material of public, or academic interest. Archive it instead. And develop a system that won’t allow run-away broken links.

No doubt the new boss, Michael Ebeid will want to develop the SBS internet services to 21st century standard. Given his marketing experience and past background with an internet company, he may be well equipped to do so and make a worthwhile site, better. A less clumsy site would be a start.

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