SBS Radio axes 12 languages and discontinues World News in broadcasting revamp

SBS has restructured its non-English radio services with 12 language services axed, the SBS World News Radio analogue program discontinued and seven new languages added, following  review of network’s programming after the 2016 census.

As a result of the changes Kannada, Tongan, Norwegian, Cook Island Maori, Fijian, Swedish and the English spoken African program will all be discontinued, while Lithuanian, Malay, Latvian, Danish and Maori have been in recess for the last year and a half.

The decision to cull the language services was due to a failure to meet the SBS ‘Selection Criteria’, which requires a population of more than 25,000 for large languages, and a population of more than 1,000 with English language proficiency at 45% for high needs languages.

Turkish, Croatian, Hungarian, Bosnian and Albanian languages will each see a reduction of one program a week, while German will reduce its offering by two programs a week.

SBS World News Radio will also be “realigned to better meet audience needs”.

In a notice on SBS’ Website, the hybrid-funded broadcaster wrote: “SBS News will offer on demand audio news updates across the day and regular podcasts providing information and exploring key issues facing Australia today. The analogue radio program will be discontinued.”

At the same time, SBS will add seven new languages to its digital assets – Telugu, Karen, Tibetan, Hakha Chin, Rohingya, Mongolian and Kirundi. All new languages will be available via the on demand audio podcasts, which are available on the SBS website and SBS Radio app.

SBS said the review was based on the findings of a 2016 Census.

“SBS Radio is reviewing its language services to ensure the services reflect Australia’s rapidly changing and increasingly diverse society. In 2012, we reviewed SBS Radio’s services for the first time in nearly 18 years. At the time, we made a commitment to review our services again after the 2016 Census,” the broadcaster said.

“The SBS Radio Services Review will take into consideration changes in audience listening habits, the migration to digital platforms, demographics and financial parameter.”



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