After three-and-a-half months of persistent canvassing and negotiations led by Maltese community leaders in Melbourne and Sydney as well as Malta’s High Commissioner in Canberra and the Consul-General in Melbourne, SBS announced yesterday that two one-hour Maltese radio programs will be broadcast commencing on 29 April 2013 in addition to the two which were originally included under the new schedule, giving a total of 4 one-hour programs per week.
Last November SBS had published the new radio schedule in which the Maltese programs fared the worst among all existing languages with a savage cut of 7 programs, down from 9 hours to 2 hours per week.
The latest SBS decision represents a doubling of Maltese programs from the original revised schedule and a respectable result for the Maltese community. SBS also agreed to move the broadcast of one of the programs back to Saturday afternoon, arguably the most popular timeslot among Maltese listeners.
After the publication of the revised SBS radio schedule last November, the Maltese community had come together in a show of unity to apply pressure on SBS. Representations to SBS came from all quarters and took the form of letters of support and emails from numerous members of federal and state parliaments, local councillors and Maltese associations, many posts left by angry Maltese community members on the SBS website and Facebook page, as well as letters and articles published in the Maltese newspaper in Australia, The Maltese Herald. A petition with over 3,000 signatures, organised by the Maltese Community Council of Victoria, was sent to the Minister responsible for radio and communications, Senator Stephen Conroy, and to the SBS Board.
As a result of the latest SBS decision the Maltese programs on SBS radio from 29 April will be broadcast as follows:
- Tuesday at 12 noon – SBS 3 digital only (digital radio and digital TV)
- Thursday at 12 noon – SBS 3 digital only (digital radio and digital TV)
- Friday at 12 noon – SBS 2/FM analogue (also on digital radio and digital TV)
- Saturday at 2.00 pm – SBS 2/FM analogue (also on digital radio and digital TV)
Maltese radio programs are also available over the internet as follows:
- Internet Live and On-Demand – http://www.sbs.com.au/maltese (live and catch up listening)
- iPhone and Android app – SBS Your Language app (live and catch up listening)
- Podcasts of program segments – http://www.sbs.com.au/podcasts/your-language/maltese
SBS advised the Maltese community leaders at a recent meeting that the additional two hours will be funded from within the existing radio budget. SBS also indicated that funding of the additional two hours on SBS 3 digital is guaranteed only for two years (until the end of the 2014/15 financial year). The funding situation will be reviewed at the end of the two years.
The allocation of hours on the analogue radio schedule will also be reviewed following the 2016 Census. Under the Final Selection Criteria, published in June 2012, SBS announced plans to review all languages and the allocation of hours after each Census to ensure the SBS Radio Schedule continues to reflect the makeup of Australia and fulfils its obligations under the SBS Charter.
In addition to the Maltese radio programs, SBS recently agreed to broadcast two television news bulletins from Malta per week in Maltese produced by Malta’s Public Broadcasting Service. As was stated in a recent Media Release issued by the Malta High Commission’s office in Canberra, from 4 April 2013 both TV programs are being broadcast on SBS TWO channel on Thursdays and Sundays at 8.00 am, eliminating the need for repeat programming.