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Abbott’s broken SBS promise two years on

Two years ago Tony Abbott told the nation there would be no cuts to SBS. Abbott made the announcement on SBS World News Australia in a live interview with Anton Enus the night before the election. But since then $53m has been slashed from SBS.

Part of the Prime Minister’s broken promise includes $28.5m in an agreed funding arrangement between SBS and government that that amount would be removed from SBS’s budget with a guarantee that the SBS Act would be amended to increase the five minute hourly advertising limit to 10 minutes capped at 120 minutes per day. However the government failed to deliver on its end of the promise and proceeded with the $28.5m cuts anyway.

62,000 people signed a petition opposing the Bill that would have resulted in 14 minutes of commercial breaks per hour in primetime. The petition was organised by Save Our SBS with Margaret Pomeranz & Quentin Dempster hosted on GetUp’s CommunityRun website.

Strong evidence from reputable sources in Australia including the government’s own Efficiency Review and world-wide studies concluded that an increase in advertising would threaten SBS’s ability to meet its Charter obligations.

As a consequence of the cuts, SBS has reduced its local content in addition to back office efficiencies.

The Expenditure Review Committee, of which Tony Abbott is the Chair, is considering whether or not there is justification to return the $28.5m to SBS – given that the government broke its end of the agreement. The ERC is expected to announce its decision by November.

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