Government breaks promise: SBS funding slashed and more ads to come

SBS’s budget from government will be slashed by $53.7m which includes $28.5m from additional advertising. SBS’s operating budget will be reduced by $25.2m over five years. The revised budget for SBS will be $1.39b for the same period.

The Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull said that the government plans to introduce legislation to parliament in 2015 to amend the SBS Act to allow SBS to change its advertising arrangements, generating $28.5m over the five years. This will occur by permitting SBS to effectively double its advertising quota to 10 minutes per hour through a system known as ad averaging, resulting in 14 minutes of commercial-promo breaks per hour, 6pm to midnight. 

SBS’s Managing Director, Michael Ebeid said, "SBS would only implement additional advertising in programs and timeslots where the advertising return could genuinely aid our ability to invest in more Australian content".

The timeslots of the highest value are recognised as primetime – 6pm to midnight – and most sporting broadcasts.

The extra funds generated from the additional advertising will not benefit SBS, but will be syphoned to government. 

Save Our SBS opposes the cuts and any increases in advertising.

The cuts will result in the commissioning of less quality programs. Staff at the 30 year old Dateline program have already lost their jobs.

There is strong evidence that the extra advertising will seriously impact on SBS’s ability to adhere to its Charter. After reading SBS’s Charter, three-quarters of SBS viewers nationally said, "since SBS-TV introduced in-program advertising, [it is] less faithful to the Charter now than it used to be".

The Opposition leader, Bill Shorten said, "Labor doesn’t believe that we need more television ads on television. This is just simply an attempt to cover up the cuts to the SBS. The case has not been made out to put further advertisements on SBS. The case has not been made out. It’s just a whitewash for his [Mr Abbott’s] dirty, underhanded cuts to public broadcasting in this country."

The night before the election Mr Abbott promised, there would be "no cuts to the ABC or SBS".


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