In March 2017, the Government reintroduced the Communications Legislation Amendment (SBS Advertising Flexibility) Bill 2017.
The Bill proposed to provide SBS with some flexibility in its advertising arrangements to earn additional commercial revenue within its existing daily advertising cap. There would not have been any additional advertising on SBS as a result of the Bill.
The Bill would have allowed SBS to schedule up to 10 minutes of advertising per hour in higher rating programmes, with a corresponding decrease in other hours to maintain the current daily cap of 120 minutes. It was estimated that SBS would have raised an additional $27.4 million of advertising revenue over four years as a result of the Bill.
Following community feedback and discussions with industry stakeholders, the Government has decided not to proceed with the legislation. This legislation will now be withdrawn from Parliament. The Government recognises that in a challenging and changing environment for Australian television that there is an argument for stability in the sector.
The Australian Government is committed to maintaining the health and vibrancy of SBS. In the 2017‐18 Budget, the Government will provide SBS with an additional $8.8 million to replace the commercial revenue it has been unable to raise in the absence of the advertising flexibility legislation. This follows the provision of $4.1 million in 2015‐16 and $6.9 million in 2016‐17 of supplementation to SBS for lost revenue.
The return of this of funding in 2017‐18 will ensure that SBS is able to continue its commitment to multilingual, multicultural and Indigenous radio, television and media services. This will bring the Government’s total investment in SBS in 2017‐18 to over $280 million.