SBS Television Network

SBS Television Network

The Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) is one of two government funded Australian public broadcasting radio and television networks, the other being the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). 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.


In 1975, the Australian Government introduced the Medibank health insurance scheme. Concerns that minority communities might require details in their own languages led to the establishment of two ethnic radio stations, 2EA in Sydney and 3EA in Melbourne. These started broadcasting in June 1975, seven and eight foreign languages, respectively.

The following year, the Government created the Consultative Committee on Ethnic Broadcasting. Following the recommendation of this and subsequent committees, the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942 was amended to found the Special Broadcasting Service. This legislation came into force on January 1, 1978, with the new broadcaster taking responsibility for 2EA and 3EA.

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 6.30pm on 24 October 1980 (United Nations Day) as Channel 0/28. At the time SBS was broadcasting on UHF Channel 28 and VHF Channel 0, with a planned discontinuation of the latter at some time in the future. Bruce Gyngell, who introduced television to Australia back in 1956, was given the task of introducing the first batch of programs on the new station.

On 16 October 1983 the service expanded into Canberra, Cooma, and Goulburn and 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 named to SBS on the 18th February, 1985, and began daytime transmissions. SBS expanded to Brisbane, Adelaide, Newcastle, Wollongong and the Gold Coast in the June of that year.

On 5 January 1986 SBS ceased broadcasting on the VHF0 frequency. Although many Australians at the time did not have UHF antennas, SBS's VHF license 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 communities, leading Prime Minister Bob Hawke to announce in 1987 that the proposed amalgamation would not go ahead. The SBS Youth Orchestra is launched in August, 1987 with founding conductor Matthew Krel.

Plans to introduce limited commercial program sponsorship, and the establishment of SBS as an independent corporation with its own Charter were put into place in July, 1989. The proclamation of the Special Broadcasting Service Act 1991 officially made SBS a corporation in 1991. Throughout the early 1990s, SBS TV coverage is expanded further to include new areas such as the Latrobe Valley, Spencer Gulf, Darwin, northeast Tasmania, Cairns and Townsville.

In 1992, the SBS' radio and television facilities were gradually moved to new headquarters in Artarmon, New South Wales from its original studios at Milson's Point. The new building was officially opened in November, 1993 by Prime Minister Paul Keating. A national radio network was launched in January, 1994. The new service initially covered Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Darwin, while original stations 2EA and 3EA were renamed Radio Sydney and Radio Melbourne, respectively. The new national service was launched on a separate frequency in Sydney and Melbourne in July, of that year. Throughout 1996 radio services were expanded to cover Hobart and Canberra, while SBS TV's coverage was further expanded to include the New South Wales north coast and Albury.

South Park, SBS' most successful ever television series was first shown on the network in 1998. A time-delay system was installed for South Australia in May 1999, shortly before the establishment of the Transmission Services division (intended to manage transmission and self-help services). A New Media division, responsible for the SBS website, was established at the start of 2000, in time for the first webcast of the AFI Awards. Ratings continued to increase through 2000 to 2001 - increasing to an overall 5.2% average weekly audience share.

Four languages were dropped, and four added, from SBS Radio in April, 2003, while hours for Cantonese, Mandarin and Arabic language broadcasts (amongst others) were increased. SBS broadcast the 2004 Athens Olympics in partnership with the Seven Network. SBS will broadcast the Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland .


SBS Radio

SBS Radio

SBS Radio broadcasts in 68 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 its national network. Much like SBS TV, SBS radio is funded by a mix of government grants, paid-for government information campaigns, and commercial advertising. SBS Radio will broadcast the Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland .

Following "extensive community consultation", in 2003 a range of new programs were introduced, including services in Malay, Somali and Amharic in addition to the expansion of many existing programs.

SBS Television

SBS Television

SBS TV is available nationally through a network of terrestrial transmitters in addition to the Optus Aurora satellite service. SBS TV devotes a significant part of its morning television schedule to news bulletins in languages other than English, as well as showing many subtitled, foreign-language films. Its own news and current affairs aim to have a higher concentration on international affairs than the ABC or the commercial networks. It also shows many documentaries and current affairs programs, while its sports coverage has a strong focus on international sports, primarily football (soccer) and cycling (especially the Tour de France) - often leading the station to be lampooned as "Sex and Bloody Soccer".

At the end of 2006, SBS began showing ad breaks during programs, a move which was intended to increased funding for the commission of multicultural drama and documentaries, and to support World News Australia's shift to a one-hour format, a change unpopular with many viewers.


Regardless of state or territory, SBS television services always use the callsign 'SBS'. In capital cities, SBS is broadcast on UHF channel 28, while regional and digital television is on a range of frequencies.

Digital Television

SBS World News Channel, SBS Essential

Much like the ABC, SBS has been one of the most progressive networks with regard to digital broadcasting, primarily due to government restrictions on commercial multichanneling. Since 2001 SBS TV has been broadcast to the Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra.

SBS broadcasts a second digital channel, the SBS World News Channel - launched in 2002 - which broadcasts a mix of foreign-language news bulletins similar to SBS TV's morning WorldWatch timeslot. Despite being available nationally through digital terrestrial television, the channel is unavailable on the Optus Aurora satellite platform.

Language services

SBS is one of the world's largest subtitling organisations, producing subtitles not just for films to be shown on its own television channel, but also for foreign film and documentary producers around the world. Services include translation from English to other languages, and from foreign languages to other languages, as well as to English.

Through its Language Services unit, SBS also provides a range of translation, typesetting, and voiceover services.


The network provides a rehearsal venue for the SBS Radio and Television Youth Orchestra, an orchestra that records many broadcasts for the network and tours regularly overseas. (Credit: Wikipedia).


SBS Television broadcasts in more than 60 languages, with more than half of its programs broadcast in languages other than English. These programs are made accessible to all Australians through the use of English subtitles. With more than 400 international and local program sources, SBS Television draws upon the largest range of source material of any television network in the world.

In the 2002-03 Federal Budget, the Government announced that it would fund the extension of SBS Television to all regional transmission areas with a population of 5,000 people or more, where spectrum is available. This followed the completion of the Television Fund financed program to extend SBS Television to some 1.2 million Australians in regional transmission areas with a population of 10,000 people or more in October 2001.

This initiative will see SBS Television extended to a number of regional communities for the first time, while in other areas--where SBS Television self-help services already exist--it will relieve a local Council or community group of their obligation to meet the costs associated with maintaining a service. In these latter areas, the initiative may involve SBS' transmission service provider replacing an existing self-help service with one that affords greater audience reach thereby improving local access to SBS Television.

The Government is awaiting the receipt of definitive advice from the Australian Broadcasting Authority on spectrum availability in the areas SBS has identified as meeting the population extension criterion before making a formal announcement of which communities will be included in the new extension program. It is anticipated that all extensions will be completed by 30 June 2004.



Living Black

7th March 2007

KG: Let's take a look at what's making news around the country. Last week an historic land use agreement was reached between the NSW Government and the Githabul people, in the State's north. After a decade of negotiations, the Githabul people have been granted native title rights over 112,000 hectares of land, including 10 national parks and 13 State forests. The agreement recognises their ongoing physical and spiritual connection to the land, and gives them control over future developments in some areas of crown and leasehold land. (Credit: Living Black).

15th September 2007

KARLA GRANT: Let's take a look at what's making news. The Queensland Government has agreed to hand over land left out of the biggest native title agreement ever made on the eastern side of Australia. In February, the Githabul people won native title rights over 112,000 hectares of land in NSW. They're now due to be granted native title over the summit of Mount Lindsay later this year. The summit, on the Queensland side of the border, was originally left out of their native title agreement.

Former Queensland public servant Collin Dillon has been named 2006 Whistleblower of the Year. Mr Dillon served as a police officer for 36 years before working as a senior Indigenous adviser for the Queensland Government. He was the first policeman to blow the whistle on police corruption in Queensland to the Fitzgerald Inquiry. Mr Dillon received his award for his criticism of the Queensland Government's failure to provide protection for Aboriginal people held in police custody.

And the countdown begins to Black Australia's night of nights, the 2007 Deadly Awards. The Deadlys is the biggest celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander achievement in music, sport, entertainment and community, and will be held at the Sydney Opera House on Thursday 27 September. Voting for the Deadlys closes this Saturday, so log onto for more details. So mark your calendar and don't miss SBS's coverage of the event on Tuesday 2 October, at 10pm.

And that's the program for today. Next week, video journalist Emma Cook travels to Halls Creek, a town in the spotlight after the Barnham inquiry into child abuse saw several local men charged.

MAN 1: Barnham Inquiry have looked at all the girls that have been abused. I know that there's been boys abused and that they are abusers now. And so it's just one vicious cycle.

That's next week on Living Black. Don't forget if you'd like to visit our website, you can do that by logging on to and click on News. And tonight we asked your views on the need for more rehabilitation services in light of the new alcohol bans in the Northern Territory. Thanks for joining us. I'm Karla Grant. Goodnight.

MAN 1: They always keep removing people out of the community to get them clean. Why can't they do a program where they work it into the community to get them clean?

WOMAN: Who brought the grog in? We don't own no pub.

MAN 2: Unless the rehabilitation is done from an Aboriginal control perspective, there is no such thing as rehabilitation. (Credit: Living Black).


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Public thank you to SBS for their tremendous support and assistance over the years.