Only one in 40 articles published on sport by SBS in the month of October dealt with women’s sport, an analysis released in response to Senate estimates has revealed.

Just 15 articles were published on women’s sport over the month, comprising 2.6% of all the articles published by SBS’ online sports hubs. SBS Zela, the former women’s sports site shuttered earlier this year, stopped publishing on August 23. Nonetheless, in that calendar month alone, it published 79 pieces on women’s sport.

Its closure thus signals a massive reduction in the coverage of women’s sport by the multicultural broadcaster.

At Senate estimates in October, SBS managing director Michael Ebeid told the committee that the closure of SBS Zela wasn’t a reduction in the resources devoted to women’s sports coverage, as SBS Zela did not have any dedicated resources to begin with but was a collection of content that was being produced anyway. “It’s not a channel, just a web page that aggregates stories of women’s sports and topics,” he said. That characterisation was promptly and fiercely disputed by the site’s former editor, Danielle Warby, in an interview with Crikey. She been hired by SBS specifically to raise its coverage of women’s sports, with a dedicated budget to do so.

Given a chance to clarify what Ebeid meant by “aggregating stories” in a further question on notice, SBS responded: “The Zela trial website aggregated women’s sports stories from across the SBS network including original SBS content and stories from other sources.”

“It’s not closure of the site, it’s just moving the content from one page to a different part of our website. We’re still covering the stories, the topics — the issues will still be there in every way,” Ebeid said in the October estimates session. That same month, SBS published 577 articles through its main sports hub — of which 15 were about women’s sports. — Myriam Robin

Peter Fray

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