SBS brings the world to your television, but how does SBS get to the world? Amid the announcement last week of a rebrand of SBS2 becoming Australia’s home for Viceland, Vice’s American TV channel, a tipster says the multicultural broadcaster quietly shut down its international sales department. “This is the department that over the last 10 years has taken Australian content to the world market and sold it — promoting talent and program makers,” the tipster said. The department has delivered big bucks to filmmakers through selling their programs to overseas broadcasters. How will this happen now? “I suspect [SBS productions] will be sold for a quick buck to an international distributor,” the tipster said. Staff were informed a few weeks back, and there’s been a handful of redundancies.

SBS confirmed the model was changing. “We have identified that it will be more effective to utilise external sales agents with specific expertise in our focus areas and proximity to global markets,” a spokesperson said. “SBS has enjoyed great success in selling content rights in international markets for our big programs such as Go Back To Where You Came From and Luke Nguyen’s series’, and there continues to be opportunities to sell rights abroad.”

Industry blog TV Tonight has speculated that at big trade events, big international broadcasters and distributors dominate, which can make it hard for SBS and the ABC to break through.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey