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FAQ's - World Watch

Why don't you subtitle the WorldWatch news bulletins you broadcast each morning?

WorldWatch provides 23 news bulletins on SBS ONE  and SBS TWO in 21 languages, originating from 22 countries.

Subtitling is a very exacting and time-consuming procedure. On average, every hour of a subtitled program involves about 53 hours of work. With such time constraints, it would be impossible to subtitle the 21 different languages broadcast in the WorldWatch schedule. The delay would mean that the news bulletins would be outdated by the time they were ready for presentation. At present, WorldWatch bulletins are transmitted as soon as possible after they are received via satellite to ensure that their news content remains current. On average, SBS ONE and SBS TWO offer eighteen hours of international news bulletins per day.

Who determines the language broadcast in WorldWatch?

A consultative process, involving relevant communities, precedes a management recommendation to the SBS Board, which then makes the final decision. While SBS makes every effort to include news programs from the major broadcasters of the world and for the major community groups in Australia, some programs are difficult, expensive or impossible to access due to technical communications problems or existing contractual obligations.

Who decides the times at which the WorldWatch bulletins are broadcast?

Generally, the schedule is dictated by availability of air time. Another consideration is to avoid clashes with SBS Radio's multi-channel analogue and digital networks. This means that some of the major language news bulletins are outside peak hours. In order to give people an alternative, the WorldWatch bulletins are repeated or updated on SBS TWO. To access SBS's digital services requires a set-top box decoder or digital television set.

Why isn't the BBC included in the WorldWatch schedule?

The BBC and other English language international news providers offer their bulletins on pay television. For this reason, their bulletins are not provided or sold to free-to-air broadcasters like SBS. An exception is the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, which is provided to SBS by the Public Broadcasting Service (US).

What is the source of the WorldWatch news bulletins?

The majority of the WorldWatch suppliers are public or national broadcasters. SBS also has a number of private partners, such as TVB in Hong Kong, ABS-CBN of the Philippines, and NTV in Russia.

Is the line-up of news bulletins on SBS TWO different from that on SBS ONE?

The WorldWatch news bulletins on SBS ONE are repeated or updated on SBS TWO from 7 am to 6.30 pm Monday to Saturday and 9.45 am to 6.30 pm on Sunday, although the order of news broadcasts may differ slightly.

Sometimes WorldWatch bulletins appear to be cut short. Do you edit these programs?

In general, SBS leaves bulletins as they are received in order to preserve their integrity. However, in exceptional circumstances, edits are made where the material is in obvious breach of Australian broadcasting regulations and our Codes of Practice. Furthermore, overseas commercials and sponsorship messages are removed where necessary and where possible. When programs overrun their allocated duration, SBS has no alternative but to cut the end in order to start the following bulletin close to time.

Why does SBS not run stand-by programs in the same language as the cancelled bulletin when a World Watch bulletin is not received?

It is technically and logistically impossible to maintain a library of suitable stand-by programs. If a particular news bulletin fails to run for technical or other reasons, that does not mean that that particular timeslot is automatically reserved for a program in the same language. Unlike SBS Radio, no non-English language program has a reserved timeslot in the SBS Television schedule.

News happens seven days a week - why can't SBS schedule the same WorldWatch services all week long? Why is the Sunday line-up different?

Some news bulletins are not made available seven days a week. For this reason SBS decided to reserve Sunday for news magazine programs, which are mainly received by courier service rather than by satellite. Some communities that are not big enough to warrant a daily satellite service are provided with a weekly review program as a means of keeping abreast of developments in their countries of origin.

A subtle story:  Good subtitles are effectively 'invisible'. The best subtitles are the ones you don't notice. Accuracy and viewer comfort are the ultimate guiding principles.