Special Broadcasting Service
Learn more about Special Broadcasting Service
The Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) is one of two government funded Australian public broadcasting radio and television networks, the other being the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). The stated purpose of the SBS is "to provide multilingual and multicultural radio and television services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians and, in doing so, reflect Australia's multicultural society" (SBS FAQ).
The SBS originates from two foreign language stations, 2EA in Sydney and 3EA in Melbourne, which started broadcasting in 1975 in respectively 7 and 8 foreign languages and which initially were only meant to be temporary, to explain the new "Medibank" to minority communities, which, it was thought, required details in their own languages. The legislation founding the Special Broadcasting Service came into force on 1st January 1978 and now (2006) SBS Radio is broadcast in all states of the Australian Commonwealth in 68 languages and has a National Program as well as two local radio channels (1 FM and 1 AM) in Sydney and Melbourne.
SBS TV began test transmissions in April 1979 when it showed various foreign language programs on ABV-2 Melbourne and ABN-2 Sydney on Sunday mornings. Full-time transmission began at 6.30pm on 24 October, 1980 (United Nations Day) as Channel 0/28. At the time SBS was broadcasting on UHF Channel 28 and VHF Channel 0. Bruce Gyngell, who introduced television to Australia back in 1956 was given the task of introducing the first batch of programs on the new station.
 Services and divisions
The radio division broadcasts in 68 languages in all Australian states. A large percentage of its morning TV schedule is devoted to 17 non-English language news bulletins. It also shows many films in languages other than English (with English subtitles). Its own news and current affairs programs have a higher concentration on international affairs than the ABC or the commercial networks, and carry less "soft news". It also broadcasts many current affairs documentaries, and its sports coverage tends to focus on international sports, primarily football (soccer) and cycling (especially the Tour de France).
SBS is also one of the world's largest subtitler organisations. It produces subtitles for foreign film and documentary producers around the world and not just for films to be shown on its own SBS screenings. The subtitling services includes from English to other languages, foreign language to other language, as well as to English.
 Production notes
SBS has been one of the most progressive networks in regard to digital television, in part due to multi-channel restrictions on the commercial networks. Its second channel, SBS World News Channel, primarily shows foreign language news broadcasts. It also has an electronic program guide (EPG) channel which rotates upcoming program schedules, news headlines and weather information.
SBS uses subtitles in preference to dubbing. These do not interfere with the natural sounds of a movie, so viewers who understand the language can watch with ease. Subtitles are used on non-English speaking movies and shows. The subtitles usually consist of bold yellow text with a tint of a thin black border on a transparent background, positioned at the bottom centre of the television screen. This gives the best text legibility on the screen to viewers.
In addition to presenting material in its original language, SBS presents material in its original aspect ratio whenever possible, instead of cutting off the sides of the image and "zooming in" to 4:3 (or with the advent of digital television, 16:9), as is common on the commercial networks. Thus, many programs appear with black bars above and below the picture, allowing the viewer to experience the full wide-screen shot as intended. The image is also often shifted up slightly to allow the subtitles to be displayed without overlapping the picture.
It is also noted that SBS presents material in its original frame rate whenever possible, instead of speeding up to 4.17% (typical of most PAL broadcasts of films).
 Language services
Given SBS's multicultural expertise, has branched its operations to also include language services such as translating, subtitling, typesetting and voiceovers.
 Other information
The network provides a rehearsal venue for the SBS Radio and Television Youth Orchestra, an orchestra which records many broadcasts for the network and regularly tours overseas. For more information, visit SBSYO Website