Senator Ludlam asked:
With regard to SBS policy that films longer than 60 minutes should be broadcast with only two breaks, I am aware of a number of instances in which programs longer than 60 minutes are being broadcast with up to five breaks. One example is the German film Eight Miles High screened at 11.00pm on 11 September 2009 which ran for nearly two hours and had five breaks. Could follow up on that.
SBS’s ‘Guidelines for the Placement of Breaks in SBS Television Programs’ (the Guidelines) include an indicative guide for the placement of breaks in scheduling slots ranging from 10 minutes (no breaks) to 60 minutes (three breaks). SBS’s internal policy in respect of feature films (films longer than 60 minutes) is that they will be broadcast with only two breaks (feature film rule). This is a variation on the Guidelines. SBS recently issued an internal guideline clarifying that other genres of programs longer than 60 minutes (for example feature length documentaries) were not subject to the feature film rule, and should be dealt with as set out in the Guidelines. In the process of communicating this information, a genre reference was misinterpreted and the instruction was construed as applying to feature films. The instruction came into effect on 1 September. When the mistake was picked up on 17 September SBS immediately reverted to its two breaks per feature film rule