‘Deep Water’. 

SBS has formally made a pitch for a fully-funded content quota on its primary channel, subject to increased government support.

The broadcaster has suggested a quota of about 30 per cent in peak viewing times, which it said would adequately deliver on SBS’s Charter and meet audience expectations.

In its submission to the Australian and Children’s Screen Content Review, SBS did not quantify the funding increase it would need.

The costs would depend on genre focus, available screen agency funding and government support.

“SBS is the most efficient broadcaster in Australia and continues to maximise investments in content and the delivery of services to all Australians. As such, SBS is not in a position to increase its Australian content without additional funding,” it said.

The broadcaster has lifted the proportion of its expenditure, excluding transmission and distribution costs, in content in recent years, reaching 68 per cent last year.

SBS receives the majority of its funding (71 per cent in 2016–17) from government on a triennial basis. The remainder comes from advertising, program distribution and language and creative services.

Its submission notes that the value of rest-of-world rights for drama content has substantially increased in recent years, due in large part to Netflix’s buying power.

SBS expenses, from its submission.

SBS titles including Danger 5, The Principal and Deep Water have been sold to Netflix. Other SBS titles such as Gourmet Farmer have been acquired by local platforms such as Stan.

“This provides SBS with an income stream which can be used to make the programs themselves and which can be reinvested into the creation of new and unique Australian content in line with the SBS Charter,” it says.

SBS joins other stakeholders in advocating the doubling of the Producer Offset for TV series and documentaries to 40 per cent but insists producers should not be able to access both the Offset and direct funding from Screen Australia.

Among other proposals:

  • Projects receiving direct government funding must have a free-to-air distribution window.
  • The Review should take a format and platform-neutral approach to supporting quality Australian content
  • Funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders children’s content on NITV, supporting NITV to deliver its strategy of developing entertaining and educational children’s and youth content.



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