Entertainment industry to lobby government for more SBS funding

14 March, 2012 by Brendan Swift

The entertainment industry is calling for more funding to bolster SBS's drama and documentary production.

The Friends of SBS, a parliamentary group convened by MPs Steve Georganas, Paul Fletcher and Senator Scott Ludlam, will hold a lunch in Canberra on Thursday where Australian producers, performers and industry leaders will call on the government to provide SBS with more financial support.


Among the lunch delegates will be Julia Zemiro (RocKwiz), Bruce Spence (R.A.N.); producers Penny Chapman (The Slap), Nick Murray (Go Back to Where You Came From), Joe Connor (RocKwiz); director Mark Joffe (Neighbours, Wild Boys); Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA) president and producer Brian Rosen, SPAA executive director Geoff Brown; and Actors Equity director Sue McCreadie.

“SBS is unique in the world as a multicultural broadcaster and should be considered a national treasure,” Zemiro said in a statement. “SBS needs our continued support. It plays a critical role in telling the stories of real, multicultural Australia, reflecting the true diversity of the Australian community.”

The public broadcaster has struggled in recent times due to declining advertising revenue and rising programming costs. Its lack of resources have directly impacted respected local dramas such as East West 101, which was cut short, while last year, SBS cancelled big-budget drama Dusty at an advanced stage of pre-production due to tight finances.

SBS has no locally-produced dramas planned for this year and its level of original Australian content is predicted to reach an all-time low of less than three hours per week, according to the statement announcing the lobbying effort from SPAA, the Australian DIrectors Guild, and the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance.

SPAA's Brian Rosen said government revenue for SBS had been flat for some time.

“Combined with significantly rising costs and a decline in commercial revenue, overseas programs have been used to fill the void at the expense of quality Australian programs that tell our multicultural stories and provide our perspective on the world. This is a sad state of affairs for a public broadcaster with a proud history. Urgent action from government is required."

Contact this reporter at bswift@if.com.au or on Twitter at @bcswift.