SBS Two launches despite funding decision

Rose Major

Despite not receiving as much new cash as it wanted in the Australian government’s recent public service broadcasting triennial funding submission, multicultural broadcaster SBS earlier this week launched SBS Two, its second standard-definition digital TV channel.

Australia’s other publicly-funded broadcaster, the ABC, recently received an extra A$167 million over the next three years, while SBS received just A$20 million extra, a tenth of what management had requested. The broadcaster has subsequently indicated it may scale back its digital plans to reflect the settlement. However, SBS does also accept advertisements as well as receiving money directly from government.

SBS Two will offer some time-shifted programming from the main channel, as well as extra programming around major events the broadcaster holds rights for, such as cycling’s Tour de France. Other programming will include more world film and drama, documentaries, as well as international news programming.

Launched on June 1, the channel is available both on the country’s free-to-air digital-terrestrial TV platform Freeview, as well as on pay-TV digital platforms Foxtel and Austar.

Freeview CEO Robin Parkes called the new channel “a compelling addition” to the platform. The platform now offers five digital-only free-to-view channels: ABC2, SBS Two, Seven HD, Nine HD and Ten’s sports channel One. More new channels will launch progressively this year, including standard-def multichannels from Seven and Nine.