This week’s funding news of the $158m for SBS has re-energised staff working at the public broadcaster.
Yesterday morning Managing Director Michael Ebeid assembled all staff at the Artarmon headquarters in the atrium to share the good news. After months -even years- of uncertainty it has lifted morale.
But what isn’t widely understood is that the funding is not part of the SBS triennial bid, which is still yet to come. It is a one-off boost of $158.1m over the next five years. The broadcaster’s triennial funding is delayed, to be considered alongside ABC’s triennial funding in 2013.
Michael Ebeid told TV Tonight there were many long trips to Canberra made to win the outcome, with meetings with not only Senator Stephen Conroy but Julia Gillard who took a personal interest in the broadcaster’s future. Gillard still took the meetings while under intense leadership pressure.
About 90% of NITV staff are expected to join SBS for the new Indigenous channel, with $15m a year dedicated directly to the new channel.
So will it still be known as NITV or a new branding?
“We’re working on that at the moment. NITV is a strong brand recognised within the Indigenous community. We’ll do some research on whether we need to change it or not. It’s one of many streams of work we’re looking at. But at the moment the thinking is we’ll probably leave it.”
He said it was too early to comment on content changes for the channel.
“Now that we’ve got funding certainty over the next few years, particularly with the year after next when we know we’ve still got another increase, we can start looking at commissioning shows that will be produced in that following year,” he said.
“Having that certainty will completely change the way we operate at SBS, because we haven’t had it before. We do have projects on our commissioning slate we’ll be reviewing and over the next few weeks and months we’ll confirm a lot of them, but not today.”
The Indigenous channel is expected to launch in December.
SBS also plans to launch SBS3 but still has more work to do on SBS1 and SBS2. New Director of Television Tony Iffland started his role last week.
Disclaimer: David Knox blogs Eurovision at sbs.com.au