Jewish Radio Off the Air

December 20, 2011 by  
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Multicultural broadcaster SBS Radio has taken 17 language programs off the air during the summer break…including Ivrit and Yiddish.

The future of Jewish programs on SBS Radio is guaranteed “for the moment”, three senior SBS officials assured Jewish leaders yesterday.  However, a continuation of government funding cuts may put these programs in jeopardy, along with programs for another 15 other language groups.
Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim and NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive officer Vic Alhadeff met with SBS managing director Michael Ebeid, Audio and Language Content Director Dirk Anthony and Audio and Language Content Strategy and Planning Manager Thang NGO to express the Jewish community’s concerns at the future of Jewish programming.
Their concerns arose from the suspension of Hebrew and Yiddish programs during the summer break, as well as from a steady erosion of the number of hours allocated to Jewish programs over the years, they told the SBS officials.
They pointed out that the number of hours allocated to Jewish programming had been reduced on three previous occasions and slashed by one third, from six hours to four, in 2003.
Ebeid and Anthony emphasised that no decision had been made to cut the Jewish programs “for the moment” and that the issue was funding, pointing out that government funding of SBS had fallen in real terms in the past decade. They said that no more than a dozen complaints had been received to date about the four week suspension of the Hebrew and Yiddish programs.
In assessing which language programs would be spared if cuts eventually became necessary, Anthony said preference would be given to language groups with higher numbers of people, lack of  proficiency in English and more recent arrival in Australia. Ability to source quality broadcasters would also be a factor.
Anthony stressed that SBS Radio has had to shift its service to focus primarily to foreign language programs with an emphasis on Australian content in news coverage.  Wertheim and Alhadeff countered that the SBS Charter requires SBS to contribute to the communication needs of ethnic communities, whatever languages they may use, and that Jewish taxpayers have a right to receive a fair share of SBS services.
Wertheim said the meeting was “frank and cordial, and we understood the issues as set out by SBS. We were at pains to point out the importance of the Jewish programs to our whole community”.
Alhadeff said it was essential – based on advice from Anthony – for members of the community to utilise SBS online services and particularly the SBS I-phone app. “That will give SBS actual numbers to work with and will boost our case that its programs are important to our community,” he stressed.


2 Responses to “Jewish Radio Off the Air”
  1. Rita says:

    “…The future of Jewish programs on SBS Radio is guaranteed “for the moment”, three senior SBS officials assured Jewish leaders yesterday…”

    Am I the only one to find this naked threat “for the moment” quite insulting?

    Is not “balance” one of the requirements for this broadcaster to receive tax payer’s money? If so, it might be a good idea to investigate just how much space the arabic/islamist narrative occupies in this station. In addition to many arab language programmes (including their Radio arm) SBS also quite openly sources many of its “news” from Al Jazeera, not exactly a defender of Israel or the Jewish people.

    In view of the fact that SBS (who has – at best – a very bias political agenda) also broadcasts commercial advertising, I – as an Australian tax-payer do not want my tax dollar used to finance this service any longer and ask that it should be privatised forthwith!

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