SBS Viceland will air “more first-run, live, original prime-time Australian content per week than ABC2 has ever had,” says the host of the new channel’s lynchpin program The Feed.
Marc Fennell has blogged a defence of the new channel against allegations it isn’t in keeping with the SBS charter, that it shows Rupert Murdoch is in control of SBS, and that it will be filled with “hipster douchebag” content.
SBS running a channel with content from Vice (which is 5% owned by Rupert Murdoch) “seems an odd fit”, Fennell acknowledges:
“Except when you see the content you will realise that the whole goal of Viceland is to explore a multicultural world through the prisms of music, sex, the environment, film, food and more. It’s globally focussed, it’s diverse, it’s fun and defiantly open-minded journalism and entertainment … Frankly, this move will bring SBS2 far more in-line with our charter than some of our existing content. Certainly not ‘losing our way’ as some have suggested. “
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As for claims of News Corp exposure to the new channel, Fennell says it will still be owned and run by SBS. And he points the finger back at the ABC, whose ABC Books division is part of News Corp’s Harper Collins:
“And special note for my beloved ABC colleagues who seem to forget that the ABC’s entire publishing arm ABC Book is an actual part of News Ltd. I know this because they are lovely and I’ve released two books with them…
“And as for the hipster douchebag charge….. just you wait. When the Viceland move was first discussed internally at SBS months ago I took the time to go through all of the shows that Viceland had produced and I was floored.”
Those would be the shows Viceland is airing overseas, some of which have attracted an audience of exactly zero viewers.
Fennell’s isn’t the only defence issued by SBS. The Australian yesterday featured an article with former ABC chairman Maurice Newman. Asked what he thought of the new channel, a partnership between Vice and SBS, he said it showed SBS had “run out of reasons to exist” and that its management was no longer true to its charter.
A statement issued by SBS in response reads:
“SBS is serving our audiences with more multicultural and multilingual services than at any other time in our 41 year history.
“It’s also worth noting the Prime Minister chose to highlight SBS on the world stage at the UN summit on refugees and migration a fortnight ago as the Australian media organisation “interpreting and celebrating our multicultural society and the values of mutual respect to the whole society.”
“Since 2013, SBS 2 has been a channel featuring programs from around the world for a younger Australian audience. The partnership between SBS and VICE is great for Australian audiences seeking diverse perspectives because they will be able to watch global documentaries and programs exploring culture, as well as the best of our SBS 2 news, sport and entertainment offering – including The Feed, A-League and SBS PopAsia.”