SBS cut summer radio services to make ends meet

SBS had to make unprecendented cuts to its foreign language radio services because of its financial woes, the broadcaster has revealed.

Speaking at a Senate Estimates Committee hearing yesterday, MD  Michael Ebeid warned of SBS’s worsening finances.

Although SBS receives some public funding, it also relies on advertising revenue. However, the rise of the Freeview channels means that rather than being the fourth commercial channel, SBS1 often finishes sixth or seventh for audience share.

Ebeid said SBS would be in deficit in 2012. He said: “We had to put about 15 of our language groups into recess to try and save a little bit of money which, you know, many radio stations do that over a summer period but it was the first time in SBS’s history that we’ve had to do that.”

Jane McMilland, SBS’s corporate communications manager, said that with the summer ratings period over, the shows were now back on the air. She added: “All media are dealing with fragmenting and changing audiences. SBS has been in this position for a few years.”

At the Senate Estimates Committee, Greens senator Scott Ludlam said: A part of the puzzle is the commercialisation of the station and I think what that’s allowed the Government to do is step away from its responsibility for funding it as a broadcaster.

“The Government needs to step in and reverse its decision of a couple of years ago to let the station rely to a huge degree on advertising.”

McMillan said the network had no intention of dropping its commercial license.


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