The ABC’s self-indulgences are well-known, but what about the efforts of our fifth TV network, SBS?
The Head of SBS Radio, Quang Lu, was questioned in Senate Estimates on
Monday afternoon about the remarkable amount of time allocated to his
broadcasters to prepare their programs, with a one hour program
requiring 12 hours of research, preparation and translation to the
And on Sundays, staff get double the time –
26 hours – to prepare an hour of radio. While it’s argued that the
extra time is needed to translate local and overseas news to the
relevant language, most staff will tell you privately that it takes
nothing like that. Copying and pasting via the internet has made it
much easier, so an hour of radio can actually be prepared in several
hours. Along with free buses to work, free gym membership and six weeks
leave for all staff, it’s looking like the cushiest media gig in town.
But wait there’s more: if you happen to be involved in sport then
you can work for SBS Television on the same day and get paid again! Not
only the perks, but if on the same day something needs translating to
or from English then that’s a separate payment. So it is quite possible
that on a Sunday a hard-working SBS Radio freelancer can be paid three
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
According to Labor Senator, George Campbell, some of
these translators are objecting to suggestions that their hours should
be cut. Cheekily called “He of the 100 year plan” by other executives
and staff, Mr Lu is heading up an unhappy division, with his Sydney
station manager Olya Booyer recently falling out with him and gaining a
promotion to a better position outside Radio.
SBS radio also faces another problem: their audiences are decreasing as
new generations choose to speak English, not the language of their