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SBS faced with cutting jobs and programmes

Monday 31 Oct 2011
The Managing Director of SBS-Australia Michael Ebeid has told staff that the multicultural broadcaster has a A$4 million (US$4.15 million) budget deficit and will cut staff and programmes if it doesn’t get additional government funding, The Australian reports.

SBS-Australia Michael Ebeid

Sources told the newspaper that Mr Ebeid shocked the troops with his frankness during his briefing to the staff.

“If SBS were a publicly listed company, we’d be trading insolvent now,” he said.

SBS has already dropped the only Australian drama on its slate, Dusty, because it would have cost several million dollars to produce and the news division has been asked to come up with A$100,000 (US$415,000) to put towards the deficit.

Mr Ebeid explained to staff that advertising revenue was under pressure because of increased competition from free-to-air digital channels and the advertising hangover from the global financial crisis.

Mr Ebeid told Senate estimates advertising revenue had decreased by A$16m (US$17 million) and the organisation has worked hard to find about A$12 million (US$12.45 million) of savings to offset the drop but there was still a A$4 million (US$4.15 million) hole.

Journalists were later told by the Director of News and Current Affairs, Paul Cutler, that the situation was even more grim as the news division had also overspent by “several hundred thousand dollars”.

SBS’s budget woes come as the broadcaster negotiates with the federal government over its triennial budget, which will be announced in the next federal budget.