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Feedback to the radio review 2012

Save Our SBS Inc was invited to participate in the SBS Radio Consultation 2012 review. SBS believed it was time to examine their Radio schedule and on their website wrote "The last major reschedule of SBS’s analogue radio service was conducted in 1994 (minor changes in 2003). Since that time, changes in Australia’s migrant intake has meant that the relative size of languages spoken in the country has changed and new languages are being spoken in the community. Technology has also rapidly advanced, allowing SBS audiences to consume content through more platforms than ever before."

As part of the review, in April 2012, SBS provided the following and asked for community feedback:-

SBS Radio Consultation 2012 is about getting public feedback on the proposed Selection Criteria that would determine Large and High Needs Languages on the new SBS radio schedule. The proposed Selection Criteria is detailed below.
  1. Large Languages Criteria: population greater than 20,000
  2. High Needs Languages Criteria:
    1. Threshold requirement – population must be greater than 1,000
    2. English language proficiency (weight = 40%)
    3. Recentness of arrival (weight = 30%)
    4. Household resources and unemployment (weight = 20%)
    5. Ageing (weight = 10%)

Selection Criteria Rationale

Large Language: Languages in this group will have more than 20,000 people who speak the language at home by the year 2020 (SBS 2020 Projection). We will use Census data to project languages spoken in Australia in 2020 to take into account future changes.

High Needs Language: Languages in this group will be selected based on the following criteria:

Threshold requirement: greater than 1,000 (SBS 2020 Projection) speakers. SBS believes using a national radio network to reach less than 1,000 potential listeners would be an inefficient use of public resources.

High needs index: which is made up of the following high needs indicators. The relative weights of the indicators are indicated in brackets below:

  1. English language proficiency (40%): migrants with low English proficiency face greater challenges to settling in Australia because they have limited options to access Australian news and information. Language audiences with lower levels of English proficiency will receive a higher index.
  2. Recentness of arrival (30%): newly arrived migrant audiences need access to Australian news and information to facilitate successful settlement.
  3. Household resources and unemployment (20%): language audiences with lower net disposable income and high unemployment will receive a higher index.
  4. Ageing (10%): language groups with an older age profile will receive a higher index.

SBS will service up to 10 language audience groups which rank highest according to the high needs index.

On their website SBS wrote it proposed to use the above Selection Criteria to determine the languages for its new analogue radio schedule and expects to publish the final Selection Criteria during May/early June 2012.

Save Our SBS feedback

How important is it for:

1. SBS to review the language services after each census? [Important].

2. SBS Radio to provide services for large language groups? [Important].

3. SBS Radio to provide services for high needs language groups? [Very Important].

4. SBS Radio to provide services for language groups with less than 1000 speakers? [Neutral].

The overall concept of giving greater weight to communities with high language needs is welcome.

We are not able to offer comment as to if the cut off numbers in the Selection Criteria for Large Languages (20,000 people) is appropriate or not. The definition of a Large Languages criteria being a population greater than 20,000 may therefore need review from time to time.

However the above would seem reasonable in respect of the “linguistic and ethnic diversity” requirement of the Charter at s6 of the SBS Act:

(2)(c) promote understanding and acceptance of the cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity of the Australian people.

The use Census data is appropriate.

The statement that a “reach less than 1,000 potential listeners would be an inefficient use of public resources” is not supported by, and may be contrary to the Charter, particularly in reference to “all Australians” and “presenting many points of view” at s6 of the SBS Act:

(1) The principal function of SBS is to provide multilingual and multicultural radio and television services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians and, in doing so, reflect Australia’s multicultural society.

(2)(h) contribute to extending the range of Australian television and radio services, and reflect the changing nature of Australian society, by presenting many points of view and using innovative forms of expression.

Nevertheless, the order of weighting of the High Needs Languages criteria would appear appropriate:-

•English language proficiency (weight = 40%)

•Recentness of arrival (weight = 30%)

•Household resources and unemployment (weight = 20%)

•Ageing (weight = 10%)

The above order is reasonable in respect of the Charter, particularly due to “retention . . . of language and other cultural skills” and “in their preferred languages” at s6 of the SBS Act:

(2)(d) contribute to the retention and continuing development of language and other cultural skills; and

(2)(e) as far as practicable, inform, educate and entertain Australians in their preferred languages.

The details of the weighting (below) make sense however it is not clear how the figure of “10” was arrived at in SBS servicing “up to 10 language audience groups which rank highest according to the high needs index”.

•English language proficiency (40%): migrants with low English proficiency face greater challenges to settling in Australia because they have limited options to access Australian news and information. Language audiences with lower levels of English proficiency will receive a higher index.

•Recentness of arrival (30%): newly arrived migrant audiences need access to Australian news and information to facilitate successful settlement.

•Household resources and unemployment (20%): language audiences with lower net disposable income and high unemployment will receive a higher index.

•Ageing (10%): language groups with an older age profile will receive a higher index.

Whilst the proscriptive nature of the above may be limiting, it will probably assist in servicing those with higher needs, which is essentially the purpose of SBS however without completely ignoring other communities.

 

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