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The SBS Must Be Special media release

Former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, whose government established the Special Broadcasting Service, has been joined by ethnic community leaders and key figures from public life, literature and the arts in calling for the SBS to focus on the needs of viewers rather than on selling consumers to advertisers.

The statement, headed “The SBS Must Be Special” was prepared by Save Our SBS (www.SaveOurSBS.org). In addition to Mr Fraser it has been endorsed by the following:

Ethnic Community Leaders:
Professor Mary Kalantzis
Dr Heinrich Stefanik, OAM, former Secretary, Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia
George Zangalis, President, National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters Council, former Board member, SBS

Literature and the Arts:
Dr June Factor
Professor Raimond Gaita
Professor K.S. Inglis
Patricia Lovell
Siobhan McHugh
Bruce Petty
Judith Rodriquez A.M.
Stephen Sewell

Professor A.R. Blackshield
Julian Burnside Q.C.

Save Our SBS is currently undertaking qualitative research about SBS and advertising in a one minute survey at www.SaveOurSBS.org where the statement referred to may be read.

STATEMENT DIRECT URL https://saveoursbs.org/archives/318

For further information contact:
Darce Cassidy,
Save Our SBS Inc
phone 0412 685 178
email Spokesperson@SaveOurSBS.org 

The SBS Must Be Special

The Special Broadcasting Service was established by the Fraser coalition government, building on the creation of the publicly funded multi-lingual radio stations 2EA and 3EA by the Whitlam government. ‘EA’ stood for Ethnic Australia.

Concrete government support for multiculturalism was a bi-partisan issue in the mid-seventies, but recently the special nature of the SBS has been under threat.

Since the introduction of sponsorship and advertising to SBS-TV in the 1990s the service has steadily become more generalist and less specialist and multicultural. While SBS radio has remained a specialist multilingual network, SBS-TV is in danger of losing its way. English language lesson programs, greatly valued by new arrivals, have been phased out of the TV schedule.

Ethnic communities are concerned. Both the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council (FECCA) and the National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters Council (NEMBC) have spoken out.

As the SBS Board and management have sought to increase audience share, languages other than English (LOTE) have been pushed out of prime time. Coverage of community events and customs on SBS-TV has declined. Meanwhile big money is going into a locally produced motoring program. The general is overtaking the special. Mainstream is replacing multicultural. Not only is SBS-TV becoming less special, but it is also losing sight of the original idea of the service. The SBS should focus on the special needs of viewers, rather than on selling consumers to advertisers.

Since late 2006 SBS-TV has been interrupting programs of all kinds for advertisements by forcing breaks into programs.

The Special Broadcasting Service was never intended to be like other broadcasters and was certainly not created to mimic the look of the commercial networks. The SBS is a taxpayer funded public service broadcaster and should, as its creators intended, be both special and committed to serving its audience.

The above statement was prepared by Save Our SBS Inc, and has been endorsed by the following:

Professor A.R. Blackshield; Julian Burnside QC; Dr June Factor; Malcolm Fraser, PC, AC, CH; Professor Raimond Gaita; Professor K.S. Inglis; Professor Mary Kalantzis; Patricia Lovell; Siobhan McHugh; Bruce Petty; Judith Rodriguez AM; Stephen Sewell; Dr Heinrich Stefanik O.A.M.; George Zangalis


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