The Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) has reportedly begged the Federal Senate to allow it to run more ads in prime time or, it says, it will be forced to lay off staff and axe a raft of Locally made programs.
In a submission to a Federal Senate enquiry, the SBS – a publicly-owned broadcaster funded, in part, by ad dollars – has asked for 10 minutes of advertising in prime time, up from the current five minutes.
It’s estimated the changes would add close to $29 million annually to the SBS’s bottom line and offset the $54 million the Abbott government is trying to gouge out of it in budget savings.
Labor fundamentally opposes the idea, although the reasons for the objections are unclear. In fact, the broadcaster is not actually asking for any more advertising time – it currently airs 120 minutes per day – rather, it just wants to air (more expensive ads) during its peak PM period.
However, the other three commercial networks – Seven, Nine and Ten – believe that at an ad-driven SBS would basically mean a fourth commercial broadcaster and unwanted competition for the diminishing pot of television ad spend.
An SBS submission to the Senate enquiry presently investigating government legislation said: “Without the flexibility to generate further revenue, SBS will be forced to implement immediate cuts to its programs and services, effective from 2015-16.
“The funding cuts will specifically impact major Australian programming and service areas that are traditionally expensive to produce and develop.”
Fairfax Media yesterday reported the results of an internal SBS survey that found 73 per cent of its viewers would be happy with more ads if it meant better local content.
Fairfax also reported that the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) also supported the Abbott government’s push to increase advertising content on SBS.
In a statement FECCA said: “FECCA believes that the additional advertising revenue is necessary to ensure that the role of SBS in supporting multicultural communities is not diminished following the SBS funding reduction.”