A brief history of SBS

SBS has come a long way since its initial role informing ethnic minorities of changes to federal healthcare.

SBS began in 1975 as two ethnic radio stations – 2EA in Sydney and 3EA in Melbourne.

They were initially licensed for three months only, and their purpose was to inform ethnic communities about the Federal government's plans to change the health system by introducing the Medibank scheme.

In the beginning they broadcast for four hours a day. 2EA broadcast in seven languages, 3EA in eight.

SBS Radio today broadcasts 24 hours a day, in 68 difference languages, seven days a
week, on AM and FM frequencies in Sydney and Melbourne, and is heard Australia-wide on a national signal that reaches all capital cities and many regional centres.

Today SBS's analogue signal reaches 95% of all Australians. More than half of all programming is in languages other than English. These programs are made accessible to all Australians through the use of English language subtitles.


In 1979 experimental ethnic television broadcasts began in Sydney and Melbourne, produced using ABC facilities.

In 1980 Channel 28 – now known as SBS – began broadcasting in Sydney and Melbourne. Programming included Worldwide News, read by George Donikian, the first incarnation of what is now World News Australia.

The Dateline program began in 1984. As one of SBS's flagship programs, this international current affairs program has won many awards for its journalistic excellence.

In 1986 the Federal government announced plans to merge the SBS with the ABC. The announcement was met with resistance from the public, and the amalgamation was defeated in the Senate.

The issue cropped up again in 1987, there was more public outcry, and Prime Minister Bob Hawke announced there would be no merger.

Over the next few years, SBS scores victories such as acquiring exclusive TV and radio rights to cover the 1990 FIFA World Cup.

In 1991 SBS is established as a corporation with five minutes of advertising or sponsorship per hour allowed, but only between programs or in natural program breaks. SBS chose at that time only to screen ads at the end of programs.

In 1993 Paul Keating officially opened the new Artarmon building for SBS's Sydney operations – we'd previously been stationed at Milson's Point.

In 1995 Insight is launched, a weekly TV current affairs program with a multicultural focus. These days, it's an acclaimed and popular forum program.

In 1996 ICAM (Indigenous Cultural Affairs Magazine), is launched. It'd now Living Black, a program that tells Indigenous stories to all Australians.

In 1997 SBS launched a a website and a mid-evening TV news bulletin.

In 2002 our digital channel was launched – the World News Channel

In 2003 our Melbourne staff relocated to new Federation Square offices.

In 2004 SBSi-commissioned animation, Harvie Krumpet, won an Academy Award and we secured full exclusive rights to broadcast the 2006 FIFA World Cup, plus three major sports events: The Tour de France for five years to 2009; the 2005 Ashes Test cricket series; and the Socceroos' program of international matches, to end in 2006.

We also broadcast the Athens Olympic Games in 2004 with the Seven Network.

In 2006 we secured exclusive rights to the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups.

The SBS board approved the introduction of advertising in the middle of programs.

In 2007 we launched a one-hour news service - World News Australia

We agreed with the Seven Network to provide complementary coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In 2008, we launched our new brand, 'Six Billion Stories and Counting'

And the stories continue.

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