The controversial “poverty porn” documentary Struggle Street, broadcast by SBS, has Labor MP Ed Husic labelling it “rubbish”, with calls he will not support SBS’s pleas for extra advertising space if this is the content the broadcaster will produce.
Since the budget cuts SBS has requested the Federal Senate to allow more ads to run during prime time, otherwise it will have to lay off staff and axe locally produced programs.
However SBS and film production company Keo Films’ standards when filming Struggle Street have been brought into question, with Husic reportedly saying they had used questionable methods and ethics for the filming, then created promotions where those involved were ridiculed.
“They were treated as simple comedic fodder by SBS, there to be denigrated, demeaned, and all for one purpose and one purpose only — to boost ratings,” Mr Husic said.
“SBS management and KEO Films did not care.
“If SBS wants more advertising to promote this type of rubbish TV that has gone on and demeaned the people of the area that I represent, then quite frankly, from my own perspective putting aside all the points that have been expressed by our side in this chamber, I certainly feel they should not have the opportunity to continue to denigrate people.”
The issue of extra ad space during prime time for SBS has been a widely debated topic. Under changes planned from Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, SBS could air up to 10 minutes of advertising per hour, up from its previous five minutes.
However, SBS said at the time it would only be able to gain an extra $28.5 million over four years. In February this year, after please for extra time, industry body FreeTV issued a statement about not believing the figures SBS suggested.
“Free TV Australia stands by its analysis of the potential for SBS to increase its revenue if it is allowed to double its ad limits in prime time,” the statement on Februrary 26 read.
“SBS continues to assert that it will only gain an additional $28.5 million over four years, but there is no transparency of the revenue figures on which that claim is based.
“Independent analysis demonstrates that SBS will have the potential to earn an additional $148 million over four years.”
The Mount Druitt doco itself has drawn multiple headlines for the broadcaster. Despite calls for it not to go to air initially and with a brigade of garbage trucks parked outside SBS in protest, the highly talked-about show broadcast its first episode in early May to nearly one million viewers.
The series has been a ratings boost to the broadcaster as it fastracked the second and third episodes over one night, pulling in just less than the debut episode, and increasing SBS’s daily share.
Furthermore, two parties involved in the doco, Keo Films and the series protagonists, have threatened to sue each other. The residents claimed they’d been lied to and defamed in the series, and Keo Films hit back after claims from Mount Druitt Mayor Stephen Bali said the company had acted unethically when filming.
The Struggle Street saga seems set to continue.