All eyes to the cross benches for SBS bill support

James McGrath
By James McGrath | 12 May 2015

The Federal Government will need support from the cross-benches after the Labor Party formally ruled out supporting the changes to SBS' funding arrangements in caucus today.

The government is currently seeking to pass legislation that would allow SBS to put on more advertising in prime time hours.

AdNews however has confirmed the recent move from Labor, which means that the government will need to lean on the support of the cross benches in the senate to pass the legislation, with The Greens also opposed to the move.

It is thought the government has flagged the changes with the cross-benches, but has found their intentions hard to read.

The legislation is currently in the lower house of parliament, where the government has the numbers to force the bill though, but the Greens and Labor opposition to the bill means it will not pass through the Senate without the support of key cross-benches.

The legislation, if passed, would allow SBS to deliver 10 minutes of advertising per hour in primetime instead of its current allowable limit of five minutes.

SBS would be able to increase its advertising time in primetime by reducing the amount of advertising in other hours in any given day.

The potential move has been blasted by current commercial operators such as Channels Seven, Nine, and Ten, who say it would essentially add another competitor to the space at a time when their advertising revenue is under threat.

They also resent that it will continue to be underpinned by government funds.

If the legislation is not passed before the end of the financial year, communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has warned that SBS would need to find funds elsewhere as the funding from the government starts to wind down in the next financial year.

It is thought SBS has focused its efforts into creating 'tentpole' programming such as Mardi Gras, the Tour de France, Trop Fest, and Eurovision in order to secure larger chunks of advertising dollars.

However, media buyers previously told AdNews they would be cautious about buying up more advertising inventory, lest SBS lose its status amongst its key demographic as an essentially non-commercial broadcaster.

SBS declined to comment on the latest legislative move, referring AdNews back to a statement it made in support of the legislation.

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