SBS and Freeview to enter talks with industry body ‘confident’ of securing new membership

michael ebeid

Ebeid: Supportive of Freeview

SBS executives will sit down for talks with Freeview this week as the free-to-air industry body looks to convince the broadcaster to remain within its ranks.

Freeview general manager Liz Ross said she will meet with SBS to further discuss ways in which the network can remain a member following the announcement by SBS last month that it was leaving Freeview in a move to cut costs.

Ross flagged the “battle in parliament” over SBS’s advertising revenue as one of the underlying causes of the split.

The broadcaster pointed the finger at budget cuts imposed by the Government for the decision with unresolved funding difficulties “resulting in SBS’s exit from Freeview”.

But Ebeid said he remained “supportive” of Freeview and would be open to re-joining “at a reduced shareholding commensurate to its market size and funding limitations”.

Ross declined to elaborate on what form those new arrangements might be but said she was hopeful of reaching a deal with the broadcaster.

“I am quite optimistic. SBS have been a very engaged member of Freeview, we have enjoyed really strong relationships,” she said.

Asked if talks this week would produce a result, Ross said: “I’d like that, but probably not. It will likely be an iterative process.”

Freeview yesterday revealed it will launch a new TV-led marketing campaign later this year but declined to provide details until all plans were in place.

The uncertainty over SBS’ involvement with Freeview is thought to be among the reasons for the reluctance to divulge details.

Steve Jones


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