SBS Viceland will still have more local content per week than ABC2: Marc Fennell rejects SBS-Vice criticism

SBS2’s The Feed host Mark Fennell has fired back at criticism over the channel’s partnership with US youth publisher Vice Media, arguing that thanks to the presence of his daily show in the lineup, SBS Viceland will still have “more first-run, live, original primetime Australian content per week than ABC2 has ever had per week”.


Fennell’s comments, published to his personal website, follow on from a report by The Australian which saw former ABC chairman Maurice Newman slam the deal, saying it showed the SBS had “run out reasons to exist” and meant the broadcaster was no longer being “true to their charter”.

Newman’s comments were echoed by David Hill, ABC managing director from 1987-95, who told The Australian: “Quite aside from the spiciness of the content, why would they get into such a specialist, commercial channel? It doesn’t make sense to me.

“Australia has difficulty funding one viable public broadcaster. There’s no rationale for two separate public-funded broadcasters; I think the ABC and SBS should be merged.”

Marc Fennell:

Marc Fennell: SBS-Vice partnership might seem like an “odd fit” until you see the content

Fennell has shot back at the criticism from other quarters claiming Rupert Murdoch has bought his way into the public broadcaster, noting “21st Century Fox has a 5% stake in Vice Media, who, in turn, SBS is partnering with to build a new channel which SBS 100% owns and operates. No precious publicly owned spectrum is being auctioned off to Uncle Rupert. We are creating something new out of two broadcasters that have an incredible amount in common.”

Taking aim at the criticisms from the ABC camp, Fennell said: “And special note for my beloved ABC colleagues who seem to forget that the ABC’s entire publishing arm ABC Books is an actual part of News Ltd.”

Fennell admits the SBS-Vice partnership does seem like an “odd fit”.

“For those wondering how the Viceland content fits within the SBS charter, I totally get it. It seems like an odd fit, right? Except when you see the content you will realise that the whole goal of Viceland is to explore a multicultural world the prisms of music, sex, the environment, film, food and more,” Fennell wrote.

“It’s globally focused, it’s diverse, it’s fun and definitely open-minded journalism and entertainment.”

Fennell argues the Vice partnership “will bring SBS2 far more in-line with our charter” than some of its existing content.

“Is a lot of Viceland content produced by UK & US producers? Yeah. But we’re also bringing you a lot of those iconic programmes that only SBS can. That’s why it’s a partnership.”

He continues: “Oh and as an aside: By simple virtue of having The Feed, SBS Viceland will still have more first-run, live, original primetime Australian content per week than ABC2 has ever had per week.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.