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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 taxes.

In opposition, when he was then Shadow Minister for Communications, Senator Conroy emailed Save Our SBS and said that “Labor has opposed and continues to oppose the decision by SBS to introduce advertising into its programming”. The email, dated 11 October 2007 stated that this was Labor party policy and had resulted from the Labor Party National Conference in April 2007. One week before the November 2007 federal elections, an almost identical email was sent to more than 1119 persons who had emailed many political leaders expressing their concerns over SBS funding and wanting an end to the ads on SBS. Each of the 1119 people received the same email sent from Kevin Rudd’s office, Senator Conroy’s office and the ALP Campaign Information Services office that included virtually the same sentence: “Labor has opposed and continues to oppose the decision by SBS to introduce in-program advertising” .

Has the new government’s widely publicised pre-election policy now been broken?

More than three months since coming to government SBS-TV still continues to interrupt programs for advertisements. Senator Conroy has asked for the legal opinion that SBS stated they received more than two years ago that SBS Managing Director, Shaun Brown has been reported as saying suggests that is it not a breach of the SBS Act for SBS to interrupt programs for “natural breaks”. Many in the community have argued that the breaks are “forced” and “not natural” and in any case they disrupt the viewing experience which would appear to breach the GUIDELINES FOR THE PLACEMENT OF BREAKS IN TELEVISION PROGRAMS September 2006 if not the SBS Act itself.

In the final weeks before the petition closed, Senator Lyn Allison the leader of the Australian Democrats, presented a private members bill that, if it became law, would mean an end to the practice of SBS-TV interrupting programs for advertisements. Her bill, the Special Broadcasting Service (Prohibition of Disruptive Advertising) Amendment Bill 2008, would overcome any ‘loop-holes’ in the current Act that SBS may have exploited, while forcing the newly elected Rudd Labor government to implement their pre-election policy that would 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.

Most private members bills go nowhere are not debated and never become law unless the government of the day wants that. Support of both houses is needed.

More background reading is provided on this web site at the links below.

Private Members Bill Bans Ads Interrupting SBS-TV

Backlash against advertising on SBS by Darce Cassidy

A chronology of advertising on SBS by Darce Cassidy


Page Archive: A Petition To Save SBS

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