By Margaret Pomeranz and Quentin Dempster
The SBS amendment bill was just introduced in Parliament today. If passed, this law will see the doubling of ads and commercials breaks on our SBS, effectively turning it into Australia's fourth fully commercial TV channel.
Why's this bad? Because the SBS was never intended to be a fully commercial TV channel. Increased advertising will restrict the broadcaster from meeting its Charter obligations. The late Malcolm Fraser and his Coalition Government established the SBS on the back of the Whitlam Labor Government's initiative, to address a gap in services for an increasingly diverse community. Further commercialisation of our SBS will see the needs of the advertiser put before the needs of the community.<!--break-->
You're already one of more than 47,000 Australians who have joined the campaign to protect the integrity of our SBS – thank you so much for taking action. Now, can you take a few minutes to let your MP know you don't want our SBS to further commercialised?
The introduction of product placement will remove the independence of probing journalism and restrict what presenters may say. Having a product placed on set, within programs will severely diminish the integrity of the SBS, as presenters would be gagged from making any comment that could be perceived to negatively portray the product or associated companies being advertised.
SBS has been home to some of the best Australian content, from quality dramas to world-class documentaries. SBS Radio connects newcomers in an inclusive way, while SBS World News Australia brings us world news that is often neglected by other broadcasters. This is what we love most about our SBS. Sadly, this will all be put at risk if this bill passes.
Putting more advertising on SBS is the Government's way of removing public funding from its budget. It's a cut.
Before the last federal election, Prime Minister Abbott went on SBS and promised there would be "no cuts to the ABC or SBS". Having already broken one of those promises, we're certainly not going to let him break another and ruin our SBS forever.
We've been doing, and will continue to do, everything we can to get the word out about the damage these changes will cause.
Can you let our politicians know that we want a strong and robust public broadcaster? http://www.getup.org.au/saveoursbs-mp
With every good wish,
Margaret Pomeranz and Quentin Dempster
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