The revelation that staff at SBS News have been warned off covering “turn-off” issues such as the Middle East, refugees, Aboriginal issues and Ebola is deeply disturbing but will not be surprising to Crikey readers.

Last year we blew the whistle on plans to make Dateline — SBS’ only investigative current affairs program — more “cheerful” after sacking most of its journalists and a handful of production staff.

As we reveal today, SBS staff have been threatened with an “investigation” if they continue leaking to other media outlets about what’s really going on at the public broadcaster.

We also hear that ratings — not the quality of their journalism — is considered a top performance indicator in some SBS journalists’ employment contracts.

SBS is a public broadcaster. If its journalists are being told to “go light” and not pursue serious news stories, Australians deserve to know about it.

As a media outlet, SBS should also hold transparency and accountability as sacred. After all, it’s what all journalists, including those at SBS, demand from other organisations that receive public funding.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey