Apr 4, 2014

SBS seeks ABC-style independence (and a $20 million loan)

With the ABC under pressure from the government, SBS wants to have the same level of independence. Bernard Keane and Farz Edraki on an FOI investigation by Crikey.

As the Coalition attacks the ABC’s independence, SBS is seeking to free itself from government direction and shift to the same level of freedom from government control as the ABC.

In correspondence to new Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull last October — obtained by Crikey under freedom of information laws — then-SBS chairman Joseph Skrzynski and managing director Michael Ebeid sought Turnbull’s support for legislative amendments that would move SBS to the same level of independence as the ABC …

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9 thoughts on “SBS seeks ABC-style independence (and a $20 million loan)

  1. wilful

    I’ve increasingly come to the view that SBS TV is a load of bollocks. Why are taxpayers paying for third rate docos on Hitler’s diaries? Vikings is a great show, but there’s no reason it couldn’t be shown on a commercial channel. Apart form world news, and multi-language stuff during the day, SBS serves no real purpose. Merge it with the ABC!

  2. Raaraa


    Are you kidding me? Most of my favourite shows are on SBS. Who else would bring some of the International shows that come in? Remember Top Gear before it was butchered by Nine? Mad Men, The Returned, Tour de France, plus a number of shows from China, Japan and other parts of the world. I remembered once when one of the commercial station took the Russian movie, Day Watch and destroyed it by dubbing it in English.

    If SBS didn’t take these shows, nobody would, or if they did, took the popular hits and showed the dubbed version.

  3. Tyger Tyger

    I’d have thought the “multi-language stuff” was integral to SBS’s remit, @wilful. As for “Vikings” not being on a commercial channel, it’s unlikely SBS outbid them for it, so clearly the commercials didn’t want it.
    And why merge SBS with the ABC when you could go the whole hog and sell it to Murdoch? Then Australians who prefer to get their news and information in their native tongues would have access to the truth, instead of “a load of bollocks”.

  4. Guy Francis

    lets be honest,the current form of govt we have and have had for the last decade or more are increasingly less inclined to criticism,and our media have become more and more partisan in one way or another,the abc may have something to answer for being more to the left,but considering how to the right the general media is atm,it at least creates some balance

  5. Guy Francis

    oops,i missed saying sbs is a wonderful station that many coutries should be envious of,it may be the best tv station in the world

  6. JohnB

    Adding to Raaraa’s list…

    Eurovision Song Contests – though once per year is enough.

    Many news and current affairs programs in many languages, frequently much more interesting than Fox or Australian commercial news programs.

    Like it or not, Soccer, The World Game (football, to some).

    Some delightful Scandinavian crime shows: The Eagle, Unit One, The Killing, The Bridge.

    On the other hand, I don’t value highly the annual New Years’ Eve “Dinner for two” re-run.


    Their own World News every evening. Much more solid than can be found elsewhere.

    New Years’ Day concerts in Vienna, each year.

    My wife would add that SBS now airs more and better operas and ballet than does ABC.

    The list continues.

  7. JohnB

    And a host of food programs, Australian (Gourmet Farmer, anything by Luke Nguyen or Peter Kuruvita) and international (Two Greedy Cooks, Heston Blumenthal’s “Feasts”).

  8. Raaraa

    The emphasis on World News and news targeted at community groups is enough to justify SBS’s existence. I’m a bit tired of having to rely on the cyclical 24/7 news coverage offered by the other stations.

  9. zut alors

    SBS are also my most watched channels. The foreign films & drama series are of high standard, as is Al Jazeera news. Often on Saturday afternoons there are excellent arts documentaries hidden away in off-peak timeslots.

    I’m all for increasing the funding – despite the fact that sport & World Cups leave me cold.

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