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Bill bans ad interruptions on SBS-TV

Yesterday the Greens spokesperson for Communications, Senator Scott Ludlam, introduced a Bill that would ban SBS-TV from interrupting programs for commercial breaks. The Bill, would allow SBS-TV to run advertisements between programs only.

In a media statement Senator Ludlam said: “The Bill will not prevent SBS from generating advertising revenue, nor from running advertisements and station promotions between programs”. He added the “character [of SBS] is under threat from the shortfall in public funding”. Previously the Greens had called for more funding for the broadcaster.

The Bill, the Special Broadcasting Service Amendment (Prohibition of Disruptive Advertising) Bill 2009 (Bill Number 165/2009) was first introduced by the Australian Democrats in 2008. The parliament did not vote on it then. If it became law, the Bill would prohibit the interruption of programs by advertisements and station promotions on SBS television by amending Section 45 (2) (a) of the Special Broadcasting Service Act (1991) to omit the phrase ‘or during natural program breaks’.

Senator Ludlam said: “It has been taken up by the Greens due to the ongoing and widespread concern about the dangers associated with expanding advertising on a public broadcaster and aims to protect SBS from the creeping commercialisation that is now evident”. A former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, whose government established the Special Broadcasting Service, and other distinguished persons had previously expressed similar sentiments in a public statement The SBS Must Be Special.

SaveOurSBS.org believes the re-introduction of the Bill may be timely but hopes that the government stimulus packages might now be extended to include SBS.

Prior to the May 2009 Budget, Save Our SBS  made a submission to the government for a massive injection of public funding for the 2009-2012 SBS Budget coupled with legislation to ban commercial breaks on SBS.

In 2008 Save Our SBS  presented a petition signed by more than seven and a half thousand people urging a ban on advertising on SBS with more funding from the public purse. Other campaigns have repeatedly called on the government to live up to its 2007 election policy statement that “Labor has opposed and continues to oppose the decision by SBS to introduce in-program advertising”. (ALP email; Senator Conroy email; and, Kevin Rudd email).

As yet there is no date set down for the parliament to debate or vote on the Bill.

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