SBS has been given a substantial financial boost from the Federal government in Wayne Swan’s new budget.
The television network has been awarded an investment of $158.1m, an increase of 27% on previous federal government funding. A spokesperson for SBS said it is the most significant boost the network has ever received.
The funding is to be used in part to transfer responsibility for the National Indigenous television network (NITV) to SBS. Tanya Denning, NITV’s director of content will move into the role of head of the new channel.
A spokesperson for SBS has confirmed that “over 35 NITV staff have been offered, and the vast majority have accepted roles at SBS, with a handful of positions still to be advertised”. NITV, which launched in 2007, currently employs approximately 50 Australians, 70% of whom are Indigenous.
NITV’s existing programming and distribution will continue until the 1st July 2012, when SBS will assume ownership. A dedicated national free-to-air digital spectrum will be launched in late 2012, making SBS responsible for Australia’s only Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander FTA network.
From 1st July 2012, production of NITV news and other programming will move to SBS’s headquarters at Artarmon. According to the release on the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy’s website, Senator Conroy said: “The creation of a truly national free-to-air Indigenous television service, built on the foundations of the existing NITV service, will greatly expand the availability of Indigenous broadcast content for all Australians.”
SBS chairman Joseph Skrzynski said: “SBS welcomes the significant boost to its core funding by the Federal Government. It is recognition that the work of SBS is a vital component of national strategies to ensure the continued success of Australia as a migrant society, maintaining social cohesion in these more difficult economic times. It equips us with the means to address some of the challenges we’ve faced in a changing media landscape and will ensure our ongoing relevance in an ever more multicultural Australia.”