Relations between SBS Television and their colleagues in the ethnic radio section have hit a new low. Accusations are flying round the multicultural broadcaster’s Artarmon headquarters that senior radio executives are undermining SBS TV’s attempts to claw back support from ethnic Australia.

TV head Shaun Brown is especially upset, having spent a lot of time meeting senior ethnic leaders and recently appointing a new community relations executive to work with them. He even took the unusual step of attending the annual conference of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia FECCA in Wollongong, where things went seriously wrong.

Brown wasn’t present for the session on the media. But his community relations executive, Olya Booyer, was present when panelists and conference delegates got stuck into SBS TV over their decision to broadcast the forthcoming Ashes cricket series. Unhappily, Booyer wasn’t asked to respond by the chairman on the panel, her former SBS radio colleague and Melbourne station manager Mike Zafiropoulos. He ignored her waving arm and it was left to SBS’s most virulent critic on the panel, academic Emma Dawson, to invite Booyer to set the record straight on the broadcaster’s multicultural credentials.

When a second attack was launched, Zafiropoulos again ignored Booyar and declined to defend his TV colleagues himself because he was chairing the debate. Insiders at the now chilly Artarmon premises think Zafiropoulos’s selective blindness also had something to do with the fact that Booyer recently left a senior position as Sydney station manager after falling out with SBS radio head Quang Luu, Zafiropoulos’s mentor and a former mate from the Department of Immigration.

Adding salt to the wound for SBS, the trenchant Dawson admitted she once worked for Zafiropoulos in Melbourne.