Well, I got it wrong on SBS and its “sensitive editing” of Top Gear to fit in ads. As SBS’s Director of Strategy and Communication, Bruce Meagher, writes:

Glenn Dyer has the wrong end of the stick again. SBS does not edit Top Gear; we broadcast the program as supplied to us by the BBC. I believe that the BBC has confirmed this to Crikey in a separate email. It is common practice for broadcasters to create different versions of programs for different markets. In some cases, like this one, the reason is rights clearance: the BBC is unable to supply the program to us as it went to air in the UK. These are matters totally unrelated to SBS’s advertising policies. I trust that Crikey will correct this misrepresentation of SBS’s policies and practices.

BBC Worldwide’s Louise Alley did confirm this:

Top Gear airs as a 60 minute program on BBC2 in the UK. However, BBC Worldwide produces a 50 minute version for its customers around the world, to fit the international commercial hour. This also enables the removal of material which cannot be cleared for transmission outside the UK for legal reasons. This is the version we have licensed to SBS since our initial deal in 2004.

However the BBC also confirmed that a “How reliable is your car” poll was plugged in the opening teaser of this week’s episode of Top Gear but the actual segment didn’t feature in the broadcast due to an “editorial error”.

Oops, so who had their eyes closed at SBS and let this one through? It might have been the BBC’s miss but isn’t there quality control at SBS?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey