Our History

Source: SBS

In 1975 the Australian Government established radio stations 2EA in Sydney and 3EA in Melbourne to inform Australians from non-English speaking backgrounds about Medibank, the new national health care scheme.

Initially launched in June 1975 as a three-month experiment, the purpose was to provide important information to minority communities in their native language, broadcasting pre-recorded messages for four hours a day in Sydney and Melbourne, in seven and eight foreign languages, respectively.

Greek Broadcasters, Sofia Catharios & Takis Kaldis, November 1975
Greek Broadcasters, Sofia Catharios & Takis Kaldis, November 1975.
National Archives of Australia

In the following year the Federal Government formed the Consultative Committee on Ethnic Broadcasting. On the recommendation of this and subsequent committees, the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942 was amended to form the Special Broadcasting Service. This legislation came into force on 1 January 1978.

SBS TV began test transmissions in April 1979, showing various foreign language programs on Sunday mornings. Full-time transmission began on 24 October 1980 (United Nations Day), broadcasting in Sydney and Melbourne. The first program shown was a documentary entitled 'Who Are We?', hosted by veteran Australian broadcaster and author, Peter Luck.

On 14 October 1983, the service expanded into Canberra, Cooma, and Goulburn and, at the same time, changed its name to Network 0–28. Its new slogan was the long-running 'Bringing the World Back Home'. The network changed its name to SBS on 18 February 1985, and began daytime transmissions. SBS expanded to Brisbane, Adelaide, Newcastle, Wollongong, and the Gold Coast in June of that year. SBS was established as an independent statutory authority on 1 January 1978 under the Broadcasting Act 1942. In 1991 the Special Broadcasting Service Act 1991 (SBS Act) came into effect and SBS became a corporation.

SBS was founded on the belief that all Australians, regardless of geography, age, cultural background or language skills, should have access to high quality, independent, culturally-relevant Australian media, and be able to participate in public life.

From those first stations in Sydney and Melbourne, SBS now has a variety of radio, television and online services across the country, with a mandate to inform, educate and entertain all Australians. A truly distinctive network, SBS pushes boundaries and encourages audiences to consider new perspectives, with a programming slate that captures the real Australia – diverse, multilingual, and culturally rich.

Read more about Who We Are
Read the SBS Charter
Why we exist