Rohingya, Tibetan and Telugu coming to SBS Radio


Seven new languages, including Rohingya and Tibetan, will receive their very own SBS language service, while others will be discontinued following a review into SBS's Radio services.

SBS has announced changes to its radio services in order to meet the needs of multicultural Australia and to better reflect the country’s increasingly diverse society.

The SBS Radio Services review took into account the results of the latest Census survey and audience listening habits.

The revised services will include seven new languages; Telugu, Karen, Tibetan, Hakha Chin, Rohingya, Mongolian and Kirundi (Rundi).

The population of a language group, English language proficiency, recentness of arrival, age and household resources were all considered, along with any discrimination or vilification of a particular group in Australia.

More than 74 million people speak Telugu in India and the population is growing here.

“We’re looking forward to servicing them and helping them navigate life in a new country,” Director of SBS Audio and Language Content, Mandi Wicks said.

“It’s probably one of the fastest growing communities in Australia with 18,000 speaking the language five years ago and 34,000 speaking it now.”

All content in the new languages will be available digitally via on demand audio podcasts accessible via the SBS website and SBS Radio app.

Final Selection Criteria

SBS received more than 600 submissions during the public consultation process from November to December last year.

During a four-week consultation process (14 November – 11 December 2016) which gave people and organisations the opportunity to provide feedback on the Selection Criteria that was being proposed, SBS Radio received more than 600 submissions; representing 85 languages. The submissions received were taken into consideration in finalising the Selection Criteria

The criteria for the language groups included whether or not they were considered a ‘large language’ with a population of approximately 25,000 or greater.

High Needs Languages Criteria focused on whether or not the population was greater than 1000 people, their English language proficiency, recentness of arrival, ageing and household resources.

“The purpose [of the review] is really to make sure our services reflect today’s Australia,” Ms Wicks said.

SBS also considered including a sizeable ethnic community if its needs are significant but not adequately captured by the other criteria.

Factors taken into account included discrimination or vilification in Australia based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin.

Immediate need was also considered, focusing on whether or not there had been a significant increase in the population of a language group through Australia’s Humanitarian Program.

Census highlights

The latest Census data revealed 4.87 million people speak a language other than English at home.

SBS has committed to regularly reviewing and updating its services every five years in conjunction with new Census data.

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia Chairperson, Joseph Caputo told SBS it is important the broadcaster continually assess its role and audience.

“I think as new needs come up and there is new and emerging communities arriving to our shores like the Rohingya, I think it is important to recognise [their needs,” Mr Caputo said.

“I think it is fundamental for the SBS to make sure that it remains relevant to multicultural Australia as it changes.”

Languages discontinued

Based on the final selection criteria, 12 languages will be discontinued including Kannada, Tongan, Norwegian, Cook Island Maori, Fijian, Swedish and the African program (in English).

SBS will instead be servicing 6 African languages, including Kurundi.

Lithuanian, Malay, Latvian, Danish and Maori have all been in recess for the last 12 to 18 months and will also be discontinued.

“One of the challenges about Australia changing so rapidly is that some communities are no longer as large as they once were,” Ms Wicks said.

“When we looked at the criteria, unfortunately some languages didn’t meet it in 2017.”

The English service, SBS World News Radio will become digital first – this means more audio content online, more often, instead of a weekday radio program.

Hours changed

Changes have also been made to the broadcast hours allotted to certain language groups. The Turkish and Croatian languages will reduce from five to four hours of programming per week, while German will reduce from seven to five hours a week.

Hungarian, Bosnian and Albanian will also reduce to one program per week.

There have also been changes to the broadcast time of some programs affecting the Dari, Dinka, Khmer, Maltese, Nepali, Pashto and Tigrinya programs.

SBS Radio will remain the world's most linguistically diverse public broadcaster, producing content in 68 languages.

The changes come into effect on the 20th of November.

For more information

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