An anonymous SBS staff member writes: So the new SBS MD “has both a strong commercial background and experience seeking cost savings by rationalising production resources”, according to Margaret Simons. I wonder if that sentence was cribbed from a similar piece written some time after Shaun Brown was appointed to the position, because the same thing could have been said of him.

To suggest that the announcement of the new appointment has been met with dismay by staff and audience is probably an understatement. Having yet another managerial type with little experience of broadcasting and little understanding of SBS is the last the thing the place needs after years of Brown and Matt Campbell. Having eviscerated all trace of identity and distinction from SBS in the name of chasing ratings and thus advertising revenue, we had perhaps hoped that the board would see fit to appoint someone who understands that public broadcasters exist at least partly to serve a constituency whose interests are not (and will never be) served by commercial interests.

Sadly this appears not to be the case, and we are destined for more of the same mediocrity, a mediocrity which fails to even deliver the supposed raison d’etre of the strategy — the decimation of the schedule hasn’t even increased SBS TV’s audience reach. Still at least the new MD may not sink to such managerial lows as making half the subtitling unit redundant at a cost of hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars, only to re-hire 10 new people in the unit in the nine months since the redundancies (of course, the 10 new staff are on contract so they keep their mouths shut whereas those made redundant were permanent and vocal).

The chatter on chief scientist Chubb. Ian Chubb, former ANU vice-chancellor, is the nation’s new chief scientist. But some are scratching their heads. While his background is in neuroscience, his lack of recent research work could be called into question. Science Minister Kim Carr, who announced the appointment today, was on the ANU council for years when Chubb was VC; he’s also had a close relationship with Kevin Rudd. But his first KPI will be seeing if he gets a meeting with Julia Gillard, something his predecessor Penny Sackett famously failed to gain.

Green movement takes the day off? Working on a range of environmental issues a lot of information comes across my particular desk. One of those pieces of information was extremely interesting. Apparently the environment movement in Australia is not going to hold their usual rally for World Environment Day on June 5.  This rally happens most years and is a showing of the thousands of people that want to protect the environment.

Now given that we have organisations like the Australian Conservation Foundation campaigning for action on climate change, one would’ve thought holding a rally on a day like World Environment Day would be important; another opportunity to get people to show their support for action on climate change. You’d be wrong. What’s going on in the environment movement in Australia when they can’t even be bothered organising a rally on World Environment Day?

Peter Fray

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