The Impact of SBS

By Emma Dawson.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Evidence abounds that SBS Television has had a significant impact on the way Australians see themselves in the beginning of the 21st century. While mainstream media productions are still dominated by Anglo-Australian characters, proof of the acceptance of multiculturalism amongst Australian’s younger generations is coming from an unlikely source: commercial reality television. The four finalists in Channel 10s Australian Idol competition in 2003 represented the truth of mainstream, multicultural Australia today: two females, one from an Italian background whose parents were immigrants, one who had emigrated from Fiji as a baby; and tow males, one born in Indonesia, and the other a fourth generation NSW farmer.
It is hard to imagine in SBS independent production executive dreaming up a more perfect representation of Australian multiculturalism. Similarly, the winner of the same network’s reality program Big Brother for 2003 was a Fijian-born Australian.
Ironically, such developments in mainstream television, which can be traced directly to the work of SBS in combating intolerance and mono-culturalism over more than tow decades, are now contributing to renewed calls for SBS to be abolished, or amalgamated with the ABC.
In December last year, the Chairman of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia (FECCA) complained that SBS had ceased to care about the audiences it was established to serve. Reviving an old animosity between the community and cosmopolitan audience, Abd Malak asserted that, “the only people who watch SBS now are the cappuccino crowd well-educated, middle-class people”.

Keywords: Immigrants, Mono-culturalism, FECCA

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.61-70. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 550.123KB).

Emma Dawson

PhD Scholar, National Centre for Australian Studies, Monash University, St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

Emma Dawson is a Research Fellow at the Monash Institute for the Study of Global Movements, and a PhD Candidate at The National Centre for Australian Studies, Monash University. Her thesis, Public broadcasting and multiculturalism: the Special Broadcasting Service, 1978 – 2008, is due for completion in January 2008. Emma is an experienced freelance writer, with a regular column in New Matilda, and has published widely in a variety of other publications, including The Australian, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. She is a Fellow at Australian think tank the Centre for Policy Development.

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