The federal government has withdrawn its commitment to allow the SBS to increase the amount of advertising it shows in prime time, meaning the broadcaster could miss out on as much as $27 million over the next four years.
It appears communication minister Mitch Fifeld has bowed to pressure from the free-to-air networks who say if the SBS – already funded by the taxpayer – was allowed more advertising air-time it would be cutting into their diminishing slice of the ad pie.
Ever since SBS was allowed to self-fund through ads there’s been strict rules about how many ads it can show and when it can show them. Presently, the rules state it can only show 120 minutes of advertising per day and only five minutes per hour during prime time.
SBS CEO Michael Ebeid had long petitioned the government to allow the broadcaster to double the amount of ad time during the lucrative – and high eyeballs – prime-time period where the broadcaster could charge double.
Not that everyone’s happy with more ads on the Special Broadcaster. A group calling itself Save Our SBS has long petitioned against adverting on the network, arguing it goes against its own charter.
The problem for the SBS is the government is slashing its funding at the same time prohibiting it from getting more dollars from ads. In Joe Hockey’s now infamous 2014 Budget, the SBS had $53 million slashed off its annual monies. However, last week’s Budget included $8.8 million of that funding being reinstated.
An SBS spokeswoman said: “SBS welcomed the $8.8 million in funding reinstated for 2017/18 as part of this year’s federal budget. Now that the legislation has been formally withdrawn, SBS will continue to work with government to ensure that we are adequately funded to continue providing valuable programs and services to Australia’s diverse society.”
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