SBS blames government budget cuts as it walks away from industry body Freeview

SBSSBS has blamed budget cuts for its decision to withdraw from Freeview, in a move described by the free-to-air TV body as “surprising and disappointing”.

The public broadcaster said it needs to cut costs after the Government sliced $53.7m from its budget over the next five years, with its exit from Freeview identified as one area it can save cash.

freeview2“This funding reduction has impacted SBS’s ability to comply with funding obligations associated with Freeview shareholding,” SBS said in a statement.

“As an organisation which is already lean and efficient, SBS has sought to find further efficiencies to absorb this cut, focusing on back office measures in order to protect SBS’s unique content offering for Australian audiences.

“Funding difficulties are unfortunately not able to be resolved at this stage, resulting in SBS’s exit from Freeview.”

The broadcaster said it remains “supportive” of Freeview and would be open to re-joining “at a reduced shareholding, commensurate to its market size and funding limitations”.

SBS added there should be “no change” to the way viewers can access its content..

“SBS’s catch up viewing service, SBS On Demand, is available on more platforms and devices than any other Australian broadcaster,” the statement said.

Freeview chairman Kim Dalton said he was “surprised and disappointed” at SBS’s decision to leave.

“We are sorry to see SBS go but more importantly this is a big loss for SBS viewers who should be offered the opportunity to access SBS programming across all available platforms,” he said.

“Freeview has been an enormously successful industry initiative. It established the free multichannel platform for viewers and most recently the launch of FreeviewPlus has allowed Australians to access television content on the emerging HbbTV service. It is an award-winning product which is now being replicated overseas.”

He added that Freeview remains “committed to delivering the best of free to air content through new and innovative service offerings”.

Last week Mumbrella revealed the body was close to launching a FreeView Plus set top box.

Steve Jones


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