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Special Broadcasting Service is a hybrid-funded Australian public broadcasting radio, online and television network. About 80 per cent of funding for the SBS Corporation is derived from the Australian Government. SBS operates five TV channels (SBS, SBS Viceland, SBS World Movies, SBS Food and NITV) and eight radio networks (SBS Radios 1, 2 and 3, Arabic24, SBS Chill, SBS PopDesi and SBS PopAsia).
SBS Online is home to SBS On Demand video streaming service. The stated purpose of SBS is “to provide multilingual and multicultural radio and television services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians and, in doing so, reflect Australia’s multicultural society”.SBS is one of five main free-to-air networks in Australia.
As a result of extensive post-World War II immigration to Australia, the federal government began to consider the need for “ethnic broadcasting” programming targeted at ethnic minorities and mostly delivered in languages other than English. Until 1970, radio stations were prevented by law from broadcasting in foreign languages for more than 2.5 hours per week.
In June 1975, two “experimental” radio stations began broadcasting: 2EA in Sydney and 3EA in Melbourne (EA stood for “Ethnic Australia”). In March 1976, the federal government established the Consultative Committee on Ethnic Broadcasting, followed by the National Ethnic Broadcasting Advisory Council in January 1977.
Initially, it was considered feasible for ethnic broadcasting to be delivered by the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC); however, this plan was abandoned in mid-1977. In October 1977, the government announced the creation of SBS as a new independent statutory authority for ethnic broadcasting.
This was achieved by an amendment to the Broadcasting Act 1942. SBS formally came into existence on 1 January 1978. The inaugural chairman of SBS was Grisha Sklovsky, and the inaugural executive director was Ronald Fowell. The service was initially a radio network, and had oversight only of the two existing stations 2EA and 3EA.
It was always intended that it would be enlarged, but this process was controversial the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations wanted the television functions to be controlled by the ABC. In March 1979, the government set up the Ethnic Television Review Panel, which recommended that SBS expand into television.
SBS TV began test transmissions in April 1979 when it showed various foreign language programs on ABV-2 Melbourne and ABN-2 Sydney on Sunday mornings. Full-time transmission began at 6:30 pm on 24 October 1980 (United Nations Day), as Channel 0/28. The first program shown was a documentary entitled Who Are We?, which was hosted by veteran news presenter Peter Luck.
At the time, SBS was broadcasting on UHF Channel 28 and VHF Channel 0 (pronounced as “oh” and not “zero”), with a planned discontinuation of the latter at some time in the future. Bruce Gyngell, who introduced television to Australia in 1956, was given the task of introducing the first batch of programs on the new station. SBS programming content was initially imported from the countries-of-origin of Australia’s major migrant communities and then subtitled in English.
In October–November 1983, the service expanded into Canberra, Cooma and Goulburn. [non-primary source needed] At the same time, changed its name to Network 0–28. Its new slogan was the long-running “Bringing the World Back Home”. The network changed its name to SBS in February 1985 and began daytime transmissions. SBS expanded to Brisbane, Adelaide, Newcastle, Wollongong and the Gold Coast in June of that year.
On 5 January 1986, SBS ceased broadcasting on the VHF channel 0 frequency. Although many Australians at the time did not have UHF antennas, SBS’s VHF licence had already been extended by a year at this stage and not all antennas had worked well with the low-frequency Channel 0 either.
In August 1986, the government proposed legislation that would merge SBS into the ABC. This was highly unpopular with ethnic-minority communities, leading the Prime Minister of Australia, Bob Hawke, to announce in 1987 that the proposed amalgamation would not proceed. The SBS Radio and Television Youth Orchestra was launched in 1988 with founding conductor Matthew Krel.
SBS Radio broadcasts in 74 languages in all Australian states, producing an estimated 13,500 hours of Australian programming for its two frequencies in Sydney and Melbourne as well as for its national network. Much like SBS TV, SBS radio receives funding from a mix of government grants, paid-for government information campaigns and commercial advertising. SBS Radio broadcast the Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland.
Following “extensive community consultation” in 2003, SBS introduced a range of new programs, including services in Malay, Somali and Amharic in addition to the expansion of many existing programs. In April 2013, SBS rolled out a major overhaul of its radio schedule. The last major review of the SBS Radio schedule had taken place in 1994, and since then Australia’s demographics had changed significantly.
With the new schedule SBS intends to better reflect Australia’s ethnic composition. With the addition of six new languages: Malayalam, Dinka, Hmong, Pashto, Swahili and Tigrinya, SBS has brought the total number of languages from 68 to 74. SBS rolled out a trial of RDS (Radio Data Services) in the Melbourne and Sydney broadcast areas in November 2012.
Radio listeners can identify the SBS Radio service by the “SBSRadio” identifier and, if their radio permits, by RDS scrolling text on their FM-capable RDS radio. NOW and NEXT data was progressively added to all radio services in 2012 and 2013. This now/next data is displayed on FM RDS Radio (Melbourne/Sydney) and DAB+ receptions areas for radios that can display metadata.
NOW and NEXT Radio schedule is also displayed on free-to-air Terrestrial Digital Television (DTV) program guides and on TiVo and TBox where applicable.
SBS rolled out the 14-day rolling radio schedule over DTV television in November 2012. A radio event (or program) can be viewed and booked/recorded to PVR or the listener reminded. The schedule adapts to daylight-savings changes as required.
SBS television services always use the callsign “SBS”. On 14 December 2006, SBS announced its intention to change to 720p as its high-definition transmission standard for SBS HD. SBS had previously down converted its scheduled SBS high-definition content to the 576p standard. On 5 June 2012, SBS upgraded its HD format from 720p to 1080i.
On 1 June 2006, the SBS managing director, Shaun Brown, announced the corporation’s desire to initiate in-show commercial breaks, in the same manner as the commercial television networks. He said that the move would raise $10 million in the first year, as he believes that SBS’s current strategy of showing ads between programs “is unpopular with viewers”. “On average we lose more than half our audience during these breaks this is 30 per cent more than other broadcasters”, claimed Brown upon announcing the new move. SBS’s commercial breaks remained at their existing statutory limit of five minutes per hour, as opposed to the fifteen minutes per hour permitted on Australia’s fully commercial stations.
An individual break lasted between one and two minutes. A related change was the launch of a one-hour 6:30 pm edition of World News, replacing the half-hour World News Australia and World Sport programs. In-show advertising commenced on 9 October 2006 during the 7.30 pm broadcast of MythBusters. Former SBS television services are SBS Essential (LCN 31, sporting events, and other digital-only projects, when available) and SBS World News Channel (LCN 32, foreign news service).
SBS Subscription channels
In 1995, SBS launched a new division called SBS Subscription TV. In October 1995, the first subscription channel to launch was World Movies; the channel focuses on independent international films. It was closed in 31 January 2018 but relaunched on free-to-air television in 1 July 2019. In April 2010, SBS launched Studio (previously marketed at as STVDIO); that channel focused on arts programming such as classical and popular music, literature, film, visual arts and dance with documentaries and performances. However, Studio closed down on 27 March 2015 and was replaced by Foxtel Arts.
SBS TV Shows
• 30 Rock (US, SBS 2)
• Aaagh! It’s the Mr. Hell Show! (UK, Canada)
• Angry Kid (UK)
• Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned (UK)
• Broad City
• Brooklyn Nine-Nine (SBS 2)
• Chappelle’s Show (US, now airs on 7mate)
• Community (US, SBS 2)
• Corner Gas (Canada)
• Crank Yankers (US)
• Dadı (Turkey, 1984)
• Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist (US)
• Drop the Dead Donkey (UK)
• Entourage (US)
• The Fast Show (UK)
• Funland (UK)
• Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace (UK)
• Gerhard Reinke’s Wanderlust (US)
• Have I Got News for You (UK)
• KYTV (UK)
• The Lenny Henry Show (UK)
• Mystery Science Theater 3000 (US)
• Nathan for You (US)
• Nighty Night (UK)
• Non-Stop Nonsense (UK)
• Office Gossip (Germany)
• Pond Life (UK)
• The Red Green Show (Canada)
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