SBS announces changes to its radio services with Telugu in as Kannada gets the chop

September 22, 2017. SBS Radio today announced changes to its services to reflect Australia’s rapidly changing and increasingly diverse society.

Based on the findings of 2016 Census, more than 1.3 million people have migrated to Australia in the past five years and nearly 4.87 million people speak a language other than English at home including Indigenous languages. The revised services will include seven new languages, including six ”˜high needs’ languages and one ”˜large’ language supporting new communities who need news and information in their language as they navigate life in Australia. The new languages are:  Telugu, Karen,  Tibetan, Hakha Chin,  Rohingya,  Mongolian  and  Kirundi (Rundi). All content in the new languages will be available digitally via on demand audio podcasts accessible via the SBS website and SBS Radio app to meet the needs of those audiences.

Mandi Wicks, SBS Director of Audio Language and Content,  said: “SBS Radio is the most linguistically diverse public broadcaster in the world and our services have never been more vital providing Australian-focused news and information in languages other than English. The implementation of the new SBS Radio services will ensure SBS Radio is relevant by reflecting the changing demographics of today’s Australia. While live, linear radio is important to many communities, audiences are increasingly consuming our content via digital platforms, listening to programs on demand and downloading podcasts. Through the review we will re-align our services to ensure they are tailored to the different communities’ needs, delivering more audio and online content when and where audiences are consuming it via mobile devices and tablets.”

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, which in conjunction with the 2016 Census data, has determined the revised language services to be provided by SBS Radio. The last review of SBS Radio was conducted during 2012-2013, after the 2011 Census.

Based on the final Selection Criteria for the SBS Radio Services Review and as Australia’s multicultural communities evolve, 12 current languages will be discontinued as they do not meet the Selection Criteria*. These languages are Kannada, Tongan, Norwegian, Cook Island Maori, Fijian, Swedish and the African program (in English) and the following languages that have been in recess for the last 12 to 18 months including Lithuanian, Malay, Latvian, Danish and Maori. These are among the 21 languages broadcast on the 24 hour digital radio station SBS Radio 3, which is also broadcast on digital TV as an audio channel. The remaining nine languages currently on SBS Radio 3 will be retained and include Estonian, Finnish, Ukrainian, Slovenian, Czech, Bulgarian, Slovak, Romanian and Armenian. They will be made available on analogue radio services. SBS Chill, the 24 hour music radio station, will be simulcast on SBS Radio 3 temporarily after the changes are implemented.

Given their size relative to other communities, the Turkish and Croatian languages will each reduce one program (from five to four hours per week); while German will reduce two programs (from seven to five hours per week). Taking into account the demographic profile of each community, Hungarian, Bosnian and Albanian will also reduce to one program per week.

Following the changes, SBS Radio will offer services in 68 languages and the new SBS Radio services will be implemented on air effective Monday 20 November 2017.

To tune in to SBS Radio anytime, anywhere:

  • Download the free SBS Radio App available now at the  iTunes App Store  and  Google Play
  • Analogue radio programs ”“ AM / FM
  • Digital radio (DAB+) and digital television
  • Online live streaming and On Demand
  • Podcasts

For more information on the new SBS Radio Schedule, visit

*The final language Selection Criteria for SBS Radio Services Review 2017

  • Large Languages Criteria: population of approximately 25,000** or greater
  • High Needs Languages Criteria: (a minimum of 15 languages subject to SBS funding)
  • Threshold requirement ”“ population must be greater than 1,000**
  • English language proficiency (weight = 45%)
  • Recentness of arrival (weight = 30%)
  • Ageing (weight = 15%)
  • Household resources (weight = 10%)
  • SBS may also include a sizeable ethnic community if its needs are significant but not adequately captured in the Large Language or High Needs Selection Criteria. Factors which SBS may take into account include:
  • Discrimination/Vilification: where a group is subject to frequent discrimination or vilification in Australia based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin.
  • Immediate need: a significant increase in the population of a language group through Australia’s Humanitarian Program.

** Population size based on 2016 Census data ”“ Language Spoken at Home other than English (LANP)

The final Selection Criteria and Census 2016 data determine which languages are serviced by SBS. Subject to funding, SBS determines when and how the language services will be delivered ”“ e.g. via AM/FM, digital radio, digital television, online and/or podcast.


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