Federal Budget shortfall for SBS

13 May, 2009 by IF

Press release from SBS

Multicultural broadcaster SBS has welcomed the $20 million additional funding over the next three years announced tonight as part of the Federal Budget but warned it is not enough to deliver on its future needs.


The Government tonight announced that SBS will receive an additional $4 million in 2009-10, $5 million in 2010-11 and $11 million in 2011-12. This will be offset by around $4 million worth of savings SBS will need to make over the next three years.

“Last year SBS identified its priorities over the next five years to meet the current and emerging needs of the various communities it serves as well as to deliver new programming that explores the true, multicultural Australia and helps the Australian community better engage with the world,” SBS Managing Director Shaun Brown said.

“These plans included delivering more Australian content across more platforms, increasing the levels of in-language content on television, radio and online and committing to much-needed services for newly arrived migrants such as English language tuition and in-language children’s programming for cultural maintenance and the development of language skills.

“Importantly, the planned increase in investment in locally produced content by SBS would have had the twin benefit of preserving Australia’s cultural and creative identity while protecting jobs and skills in the independent production sector.

“The global financial crisis has clearly put an enormous strain on the Federal Budget and SBS is grateful the Government stood by its election commitment to consider the funding levels of the national broadcasters. However, the shortfall between SBS’s needs and the triennial funding outcome will significantly affect our ability to deliver new services and, in the next two years at least, put pressure on existing services.

“Unfortunately, this outcome comes after years of financial neglect. SBS has not had a significant investment in its content and services for three triennia at least. At the same time costs have risen and the expectations on SBS to perform as a modern media organisation have increased dramatically.

“SBS has also been feeling the effects of the economic downturn and is predicting a significant shortfall in commercial revenue in the next financial year. Coupled with only a modest injection to our triennial funding, it will be difficult to continue to deliver the services Australian audiences expect and deserve.

“SBS will try hard to preserve its core services and has already committed to launching its digital channel SBS TWO on 1 June, but other planned services across television, radio and online will have to be significantly scaled back.

“We will renew our engagement with the Government about the future of SBS in the hope of addressing the funding shortfall.”