SBS Television: Liz Jacka

SBS Television: Liz Jacka
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Between 1945 and 1975 nearly four million people migrated to Australia. The trigger for this large scale migration was the end of World War II, and many were displaced people fleeing war-torn Europe. As the number of new arrivals increased, Australia's 'ethnic' communities criticised the 'Anglo-centricity' of the broadcast media, especially the 'national broadcaster, the ABC. Many migrants felt Australian radio and television did not cater to audiences from non-English-speaking backgrounds.

In 1975, two small radio stations - 2EA in Sydney and 3EA in Melbourne - began broadcasting for four hours a day in seven and eight languages respectively. Initially established to inform migrant communities about the newly introduced Medibank health system, the service gradually expanded. In 1977 the Broadcasting and Television Act was changed to provide for the establishment of a national Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) with mulitlingual radio and television services.

SBS Television went to air on Friday 24 October 1980. The first program screened by SBS was a documentary by Peter Luck about the history of Australian immigration. In its early days SBS was available only in Sydney and Melbourne, cities with large numbers of non-English-speaking migrants. Since then, SBS has extended its service to other State capital cities and some regional centres.

SBS policy dictated that half the scheduled programs should be conducted in a language other than English. SBS Radio broadcasts in English and 67 other languages, the major languages spoken at home by millions of Australians, including for example Italian, Greek, Turkish, Vietnamese, Romanian, Slovenian, Tongan, Welsh, Yiddish, Urdu, Bosnian, Bengali and Assyrian, as well as Australia's Indigenous languages.


Barnard, L (ed.). Australia Through Time. Sydney: Random House Australia, 2002.

'Key facts in Immigration'. Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs. 11 march 2004. Accessed 24 February