No ad disruptions Bill introduced in Senate

Save Our SBS President, Steve Aujard welcomed today’s introduction in the Senate of a Bill gradually phasing out disruptive breaks during SBS TV programs.

The Special Broadcasting Service Amendment (Natural Program Breaks and Disruptive Advertising) Bill 2012 was introduced by Greens Communications spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam .

Commenting on the Bill, Mr Aujard said, “We call on all parties to support the Bill. That would ensure the long term viability of SBS and only then will viewers of SBS television be returned to the experience of before 5 years ago when constant and inappropriate disruptions began. That led to a high level of discontent.

“In late 2006, SBS began disrupting all television programs for ad breaks, rather than placing them at the beginning or end of a program which was the original intention of legislators when debating the SBS Act in  1991.

“The introduction of in-program advertising five years ago fundamentally changed the intention of the 1991 legislators. Hansard clearly shows they never intended in-program ads or promos. The intention was that advertisements would “top and tail programs” only, except during the “natural break” of a sporting event, quite specifically half-time during soccer matches”, he said.

Reflecting on the past five years Mr Aujard said “The policy change to force ads and promos during programs  has been a disaster – both in terms of what Australian’s expect from a public broadcaster and financially for SBS. SBS’s rate of growth from television advertising has been in decline since 2008 and negative since 2010. By 2015 it will be minus 37% if the status quo remains.

“Under funding and advertising have remained unresolved issues for SBS and supporters for years while successive governments could get away with structural underfunding. This has been a major problem for SBS.

With new and emerging communities migrating to Australia, SBS is more relevant today than it ever has been. As issues such as migration, multiculturalism and refugees are a big part of the national debate, SBS is an essential public service and should be treated, and funded, as such,” he said.

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