SBS radio changes its rules

June 13, 2012 by  
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SBS Radio today released the final Selection Criteria it will apply to a review of its radio schedule to ensure the languages broadcast reflect today’s Australia.
SBS currently broadcasts in over 60 languages on its analogue radio schedule, more than any other network in the world.
The last major review of the SBS Radio Schedule was more than 18 years ago in 1994, and since then Australia’s demographics have changed significantly.
The relative size of some languages spoken has changed and new languages are being spoken in Australia as a result of new migration patterns and refugee and asylum seeker intake. SBS does not currently broadcast in a number of these new languages.
SBS Audio and Language Content Director Mandi Wicks said: “Australia is more diverse than ever before with 44 per cent of Australians either born or have a parent that was born overseas. Four million people speak a language other than English.
“SBS is not proposing to cut any language services. But we need to look carefully at what languages we broadcast on our analogue schedule and how we can take advantage of new opportunities on our digital and emerging platforms.
“A revised schedule will enable SBS to better deliver on its Charter obligations by better servicing the largest communities with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and offering more services to emerging high-needs communities.”
In April, SBS Radio released for public consultation the proposed Selection Criteria which outlined how languages would be considered in a review of the radio schedule.
Almost 1200 submissions were received during the Public Consultation and considered carefully in determining the final Selection Criteria.
The final Selection Criteria for Analogue (AM/FM) Radio is:
Large Languages Criteria: population of approximately 20,000 or greater.
High Needs Languages Criteria:
•    Threshold requirement – population must be greater than 1,000
•    English language proficiency (weight = 40%)
•    Recentness of arrival (weight = 30%)
•    Ageing (weight = 15%)
•    Household resources and unemployment (weight = 15%) 
SBS may also include a sizeable ethnic community if its needs are significant but not adequately captured in the Large Language or High Needs Selection Criteria. Factors which SBS may take into account include:
•    Discrimination/Vilification: where a group is subject to frequent discrimination or vilification in Australia based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin.
•    Immediate need: a significant increase in the population of a language group through Australia’s Humanitarian Program.
The final set of Selection Criteria contains four changes to that proposed for consultation following consideration of feedback provided from the public:
1.    Making the 20,000 threshold for the Large Language Criteria ‘approximate’;
2.    SBS will use 2011 Census data for languages spoken in Australia instead of 2020 
3.    Increasing the Ageing weighting to 15% (previously 10%), reducing Household 
Resources and Unemployment to 15% (previously 20%);
4.    Adding a clause:


  • SBS may also include a sizeable ethnic community if its needs are significant but not adequately captured in the Large Language or High Needs Selection Criteria. Factors which SBS may take into account include:
  • Discrimination/Vilification:whereagroupissubjectto frequent discrimination or vilification in Australia based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin.
  • Immediateneed:asignificantincreaseinthepopulationofa language group through Australia’s Humanitarian Program.

SBS will use data from the 2011 Census, to be released progressively from June to August, to help determine the shape of a revised radio schedule.

The revised radio schedule will be released by the end of November and be on-air by June 2013.

ECAJ executive director Peter Wertheim commented: “Our concern that we would have lost all Jewish programming on SBS analogue radio under the original draft criteria has been entirely vindicated. Those criteria had no room to accommodate the needs of a community like ours. But the revised criteria include a mechanism to correct this omission and that is a welcome step forward. However, the final schedule will not be decided until later this year, so much work remains to be done.”

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive officer Vic Alhadeff added: “SBS has been a very constructive partner in this process and there has been a genuine effort to meet our concerns. The mechanism which has now been announced gives us a way forward, and we will be making further submissions in regard to why we meet the newly-announced criteria.”


3 Responses to “SBS radio changes its rules”
  1. There is a grossly misleading argument pegged on the priority of LNGUAGE particularly when it comes to a medium that uses exclusively the spken word for conveyence of notions. I say notions because SBS Radio is not only about how you convey but, essentially, WHAT !!! In respect of the SBS function, addressing specific communities is not primarely a linguistc exercise but a…communal one. Issues pertain to origin and content of the matters covered not necessarily HOW they are covered. When specific music is played during the time alocated to “language” programmes, language as such becomes incredibly irrelevant , unless the “codes” specify bthat ONLY spoken music may be played !
    Similarly the nature of cultural and also news segments pertain to specific countries of origin and specific communal issues, including lots of announcements and, again, the language in which these issued are dealt with is not even secundary.
    Our community is distinct as a community and in linguistic character. If by now the people at SBS have not grasped this feature then there is something really wrong with them. There would also be something wrong with our communla representatives active in negotiating on our behalf if they would have been unable to drive in a conclusive, persuasive , way these basic FACTS.
    I love the sound of Mamelushen and would go nuts at the sound of Ladino, but my command of Yidish is almost nowhere and my Son’s Mother is Sephardi with, sadly, no notion of the most wonderful sound of Ladino, our English, however, is not too bad and we managed to bring up a sheine gitte Yidishe bubele who is topping Cambridge where, again Yidish is not ( yet ) the lingua franca. Yet we all want to have our share of SBS, we all need our voice heard, our music played, our whole NATIONAL being celarly and beautifully stated !!!! I, for one could do it in Italian, French, Hungarin and, above all ROMANIAN, thus assuring an overwhelming audience of……………….
    SBS Jewish programmes are not necessarily a liguistic exercise, although both Yidish and Ivrit are necessary elements of it, but a communal one, defined by our specific communal composition.

  2. Halina says:

    There is no doubt that people of non-English background often consider their use of other language at home as embarassing, hence never mention this in the census. This presents the needs for community languages in the radio programs as much lower than it is in reality. Also the language regression at the onset of the aging dementia is not wilingly mentioned by members of the family. The need for inclusion of Jiddish and Hebrew for Jews, who irrespective of the countries from which they migrated from are in their majority fluent in English must be specifically explained.

  3. G-d forbid ECAJ and NSWJBD should organise a communal forum on the issue.
    Ohhh, what have I done, I offfered a suggestion to those blokes who know it allllll !!!!!

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