SBS are crying poor, and blaming Channel Nine  for their woes.
SBS’s director of television and online content Matt Campbell has painted a grim picture of the broadcaster’s operating situation, blasting the Nine Network’s deal to secure the popular Top Gear programme and saying that the coffers are near-empty.
A $4 million increase in funding from the Federal Government would be insufficient to cover the decline in advertising revenue, leaving the corporation “in the s**t”, he told the conference. Depicting the situation as “dire”, he said that “we have no money for online; we have no money for SBS TWO”.
Well SBS, welcome to commercial reality, welcome to the real world. Whose fault is it that you didn’t build any exclusivity in to your Top Gear contract? Yes, that’s right…yours.
Putting that to one side, you are a commercial operation, and your advertising revenue reflects your ratings. You are airing hour after hour after hour of programming which almost nobody wants to watch…we have a World Movies Channel on pay television which does pretty well for itself covering much of the same ground as you…the difference is that the people who want to see it, pay to see it.
So here’s a novel idea, rather than asking for more money from the government, why not do what PBS do (yes, PBS, the people from whom you buy the Jim Leher show) and ask for donations? This has a number of benefits, the biggest of which being that people will feel more involved in the station and will be more likely to provide you with feedback as to what they actually want to watch. You can then, in turn, use that information to sell more targeted advertising.
I, for one, would be willing to pay for a 112 Emergency marathon. I’m probably the only person in the country with an interest in that, but you would make money out of it…and best of all for us out here in taxpayer land, you wouldn’t be draining our taxes just so that you can show us stuff that we quite simply don’t want to see.
To the same extent, I’d like to see the ABC become commercial and sever ties with the government, although I suspect that with their higher ratings and a massive radio network which is actually broadcast in English, they might have a better chance than SBS of being commercially viable with their current programming.
SBS, in the real world, you have to adapt to changes. If people aren’t watching, and you’re having trouble attracting advertisers because of it, adding additional channels of the same junk won’t fix the problem…you need to adapt to suit what the people want to see. Or you could just hand in your broadcast licence so that we can sell if off to somebody who can actually broadcast something of interest…perhaps an Australian FOX News clone (Sky News, despite being run by similar people, does not count for a number of reasons which I’ll outline in a future post) to balance out the ABC’s impending 24/7 news channel?