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Petition opposes more ads

Margaret Pomeranz & Quentin Dempster with Save Our SBS and GetUp! have launched a petition opposing the government’s proposal to increase advertising on SBS. The online petition is on GetUp’s community campaigning website, CommunityRun getup.org.au/saveoursbs

Late last year the communications Minister announced the government will introduce a bill in 2015 that effectively doubles advertising on SBS through a system known as ad-averaging.

Campaign spokesperson, journalist and public broadcasting advocate, Quentin Dempster said, “Margaret and I join this campaign to try to save SBS from forces and strategies which can only destroy it. More advertising will make SBS TV Australia’s fourth fully commercial free-to-air channel by stealth.

“The Australian commercial TV networks do not need another competitor for precious advertising dollars, particularly at a time when global players have video streaming access to Australian households from which they derive user pays fees. Many use tax havens. None contribute much to local content creation.

“At a time of geo-political tension, fear and terror Australia needs SBS focused on its reason for being – to build understanding, inclusion and cohesion to this polyglot country of ours. Its purpose is to break down bigotry, racism and xenophobia through engagement with audiences in multi-lingual services, journalism, documentary, talk back, informed conversation and entertainment. SBS should not be focused on destroying its own Charter compliance obligations to chase yet more advertising revenue. The rot started some years ago when the SBS Board abandoned long accepted legal advice and redefined ‘natural breaks’ which only allowed ads between programs, to within them.”

Save Our SBS President, Steve Aujard said, “More advertising on SBS will seriously affect SBS’s ability to be faithful to its Charter.

“The Lewis study noted this and said: ‘… there will be greater pressure on SBS management to consider the trade-off of delivering on commercial expectations, against delivering those functions described in the SBS Charter.’ (pg 85)

“In two comprehensive studies, one of 2,044 viewers in 2013 and another of 1,733 viewers in 2008 — after reading SBS’s Charter — three-quarters of SBS viewers nationally (71.6% in 2008 and 72.1% in 2013) said that since SBS TV introduced in-program advertising it is less faithful to the Charter now than it used to be. This strongly suggests that any increase in advertising in any part of the schedule will worsen SBS’s ability to adhere to its Charter obligations.

“Under the SBS Act, advertising is capped at 5 minutes per hour. It does not restrict the duration of promos and station IDs. SBS broadcasts 4 minutes of promos and 5 minutes of advertisements per hour in primetime. If the law is amended, eventually SBS will broadcast 14 minutes of disruptive commercial breaks per hour in peak viewing — 6pm to midnight and in sport (10 minutes of ads plus 4 minutes of promos every hour). This is one minute more than commercial TV.

“The Lewis review recommended SBS be permitted to increase advertising by selling the unsold spots from non-peak periods and adding that to primetime and sport.”

Margaret Pomeranz AM worked as a writer/producer at SBS where she co-hosted The Movie Show before moving to the ABC with At The Movies. Quentin Dempster AM is former presenter of 7:30 NSW, journalist and well known public broadcasting advocate.



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