About SBS

When was SBS established?

The Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) began in 1975 as experimental radio stations 2EA in Sydney and 3EA in Melbourne, broadcasting in seven and eight languages respectively, with the purpose of providing migrant communities with information about changes to the country’s health system with the introduction of the Medibank scheme.  The popularity of the stations led to the government formally establishing SBS in 1978 to manage multicultural radio services. SBS Television services were introduced in 1980. Read more about the history of SBS.

How is SBS funded?

SBS is a hybrid-funded broadcaster, deriving its funding from the Australian Government and through commercial activities.

The majority of SBS funding comes from Government appropriation. The remainder of SBS's operating budget comes from commercial activities, including advertising and sponsorship

SBS publishes its funding arrangements each year in its annual report.

What channels/platforms does SBS have today?

SBS is a modern, multiplatform media organisation with a free-to-air TV portfolio spanning five distinctive channels, the world’s most linguistically diverse radio network delivering vital services to Australia’s multicultural communities, and an innovative digital offering including leading streaming service SBS On Demand. Read more.

Where can I find out more about working at SBS?

SBS prides itself on having a diverse team committed to providing outstanding service to our audiences in the delivery of the SBS Charter. Learn more about working at SBS, and current opportunities.

What standards does SBS apply to its content and activities? 

The SBS Code of Practice outline the principles and policies followed by SBS in fulfilling its Charter. They set the benchmark for SBS programming and detail SBS’s obligations regarding matters such as television program classification, advertising and sponsorship, community information, political broadcasts, and complaints handling.

SBS’s Editorial Guidelines work in conjunction with the Code of Practice, and set out the principles and policies which guide SBS's editorial processes, including editorial responsibility, conflicts of interest, and commercial and external funding relationships.

How do I make a complaint about SBS?

SBS takes complaints about its content very seriously. There are three categories for complaints at SBS: a general complaint about programming, a complaint alleging SBS has breached its Code of Practice, and a complaint about SBS’s closed captions services. Learn more.  


SBS programming

How does SBS classify its programs?

SBS classifies content it broadcasts across its TV channels and SBS On Demand (with the exception of news and current affairs, sports programs and general information) to ensure they’re suitable for broadcast and to inform audiences about the nature of content. Our classification guidelines are set out in an appendix to the SBS Code of Practice.

How can I find out what’s on SBS?

The SBS Guide is the place to go for the latest news, features and schedules for SBS programming. You can browse what’s coming up on SBS across channels by accessing the complete SBS TV guide for your location, and also search for content by genre and language across TV and radio.

Why does a scheduled program not run as advertised in the newspaper TV guide or EPG?

Occasionally, SBS is required to make amendments to its planned programming at short notice, often due to reasons outside of our control. When this occurs, SBS will issue an amendment notice to newspapers, TV guides, EPGs and other aggregators to update their published schedules however, due to the often short time frames, these changes may not be reflected due to publication lead times.  The schedule on the SBS Program Guide is the most up to date and accurate source of information about SBS programming.

I have an idea/a proposal for a program - who can I talk to?

SBS commissions programs that allow us to explore our Charter in different ways, across a range of genres. Learn more about how SBS commissions content, and opportunities available.

How can I share a news tip or send a media release to your newsroom?

If you have a story idea, news tip or media release, please contact SBS News at cos@sbs.com.au.

How can I request to see a program on SBS/for a program to be repeated?

SBS welcomes feedback from audiences. You can get in contact with us to share your suggestions and requests.


SBS Radio

How can I listen to SBS Radio?

SBS Radio is available via AM, FM (link to and digital radio, digital TV, online and on mobile using the SBS Radio app. Read more about how to listen to SBS Radio.

Which languages are broadcast on SBS Radio?

SBS Radio is the world’s most linguistically diverse public broadcasting service, providing news, information and entertainment in 68 languages across its network. Learn more about SBS Radio.  

How does SBS decide which languages are broadcast on SBS Radio?

SBS reviews and updates its services every five years in conjunction with new Australian Bureau of Statistics Census data being available, to ensure it continues to reflect the needs of communities in Australia today. Regularly updating the schedule enables SBS to better service the largest communities with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and offer services to emerging and high-needs communities.

How can I access SBS Radio on digital TV?

SBS Radio channels are available on digital TVs on the following channel numbers:  

SBS Arabic24 – Channel 36 and Channel 304
SBS RADIO 1 - Channel 37 and Channel 301
SBS RADIO 2 – Channel 38 and Channel 302
SBS RADIO 3 – Channel 303
SBS CHILL – Channel 39 and Channel 306
SBS POPDESI – Channel 305
SBS POPASIA – Channel 307


How to watch SBS

How can I find SBS channels on my TV?

SBS is available to watch free-to-air on the following channels:

SBS – Channel 3
SBS (HD) – Channel 30
NITV – Channel 34
SBS VICELAND (HD) – Channel 31  
SBS Food – Channel 33
SBS World Movies (HD) – Channel 32              

Read more if you need further help and technical support.

How do I retune my TV to find SBS channels?

Should you need to retune, the following are basic instructions and not related to any specific set, model or brand. Menu descriptions and labels may vary depending on your equipment. 

  1. Press the “menu” or “home” button on your remote control to display the device control panel.
  2. Locate the “digital auto tuning” or “digital channel search” option.
  3. Select “start” or “search”. Retuning should then only take a few minutes.

If in doubt, consult the user manual of your television on how to retune your device or contact your television manufacturer.

How can I receive SBS if I'm in a remote location?

The Australian Government funds a free-to-air satellite service – Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST). VAST provides digital television to viewers in remote areas of Australia who are unable to receive digital TV through their normal TV antenna due to local interference, terrain obstacles or lack of signal from the transmitter in the area.

To access VAST you will need to buy a VAST certified satellite set top box and a satellite dish of at least 65cm diameter. Contact your satellite dish installer to determine the best dish size for your specific location. Access to VAST is controlled by the smart card supplied with your satellite set top box. To access VAST you will need to register your details including your address, reception location and smart card number at the VAST website.

What are self help services?

Communities that do not yet receive SBS or do not receive adequate broadcast signals can establish their own retransmission facilities for the broadcast of SBS and other television and radio services in their area. These services, known as self-help services, are owned and operated by local communities, mostly in regional and remote areas of Australia.

SBS operates a Self Help Retransmission Subsidy Scheme to provide financial assistance to eligible communities to set up such facilities for SBS TV and Radio services. Find out more on the SBS Transmission website.


SBS On Demand

How can I watch SBS On Demand?

SBS On Demand is available anywhere, any time online, on your connected TV, or using the SBS On Demand app. You just need to register, and you will have access to more than 7,000 hours of distinctive content from around the world, for free. Read more

I’m having issues watching SBS On Demand, where can I get help?

Visit the dedicated SBS On Demand Help and FAQs page.


Content accessibility

Does SBS provide closed captioning services?

Yes. SBS provides closed captioning services under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, Under the Act, SBS is required to:

  • Caption all English language programs broadcast between 6am and midnight on SBS.
  • Caption all English language news and current affairs programs broadcast on SBS.
  • Where programs have broadcast with captions on SBS, all future transmissions on SBS VICELAND, FOOD, World Movies or NITV, will be broadcast with captions.
  • Where a program is premiered with captions on SBS VICELAND, SBS Food, SBS World Movies and NITV, all future transmissions on any other SBS multi-channel will air with captions.

Closed captions are also available on some programs on SBS On Demand. Read more.

Are SBS's news and current affairs services captioned?

Yes. the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 requires that all news and current affairs programs (other than non-English language programs) be captioned.

Does SBS provide content with audio description?

SBS is undertaking a trial of Audio Description services from 5 April 2020, ahead of launching a more comprehensive service by 30 June 2020, as a way of improving the accessibility of our content. Learn more here. 

Why aren’t subtitles available for all SBS programs?

SBS provides English subtitles the majority of its non-English language programs, excluding World Watch international news bulletins.

Does SBS have subtitles in languages other than English?

SBS also provides a growing selection of subtitled programs in languages other than English (currently Arabic and Simplified Chinese) on SBS On Demand, increasing the accessibility of SBS’s distinctive locally-made programs to more Australians, in their language.


Advertising and sponsorship

Why is there advertising on SBS?

Under the SBS Act, SBS can raise revenue by broadcasting and publishing advertisements and sponsorship announcements. Advertising provides a valuable source of funding for SBS to invest in the creation of distinctive local content, and the provision of essential services to Australia’s diverse communities.

In respect of its television and radio services, the SBS Act provides that SBS may broadcast advertisements and sponsorship announcements that run in total for not more than five minutes in any hour of broadcasting, and they can only be broadcast before or after programs and during natural breaks.

More information is available in the SBS Code of Practice and the SBS Editorial Guidelines.

Does advertising influence program content?

All decisions regarding commercial activities are subject to the overriding principle that the independence and integrity of SBS is paramount and shall not be compromised in any way. This principle is set out in the SBS Code of Practice and the SBS Editorial Guidelines.

Why do you promote your own programs across your channels?

On air promotion of SBS content and initiatives across TV, radio and SBS On Demand helps to ensure audiences are aware of the range of SBS programming available, and supports audiences in navigating across our channels to find and watch content they might like.