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SBS’s World Cup coverage recovery shows how value of public broadcasters

A Greens’ motion congratulating the SBS for taking over television World Cup matches to Australian soccer fans has passed the Senate.

“The Liberals may put us all to sleep on their ramblings on letting the private sector provide services to Australians – but thankfully the SBS was there to wake soccer fans up from the nightmare that was Optus’s screening of World Cup matches,” Greens media spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“Our public broadcasters are consistently asked to do more with less, and yet still provide services Australians can rely on. Despite the relentless assault from the Coalition on our public broadcasters, the World Cup fiasco shows just how vital they are.

“Thousands of Australians have been left out of pocket because of Optus’s technical issues. SBS has done what was needed to be done to make sure Australians can watch not only our home team battle it out in Russia, but all group matches this World Cup.

“The SBS has broadcast the World Cup for more than 30 years, and the increasing financial strain the broadcaster is placed under led it to working with Optus in the first place. The take away here is if you want something done right, do it yourself. To do that, the SBS needs to be properly funded and supported into the future.”

*884 Senator Hanson-Young: To move—That the Senate—

a. Notes that:

i. A 2016 sub-licensing deal between Optus and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) allowed Optus to screen all 64 matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, 39 of them exclusively,

ii. Optus charged customers $15 to access its streaming service of the World Cup, and

iii. Technical errors left customers unable to watch matches during the tournament's opening weekend;

b. Notes further that the SBS has since arranged to show all remaining group stage matches, for free, to all Australians;

c. Considers this experience has demonstrated, once again:

i. The importance of our public broadcasters, and

ii. That the SBS is an invaluable national public institution; and

d. Congratulates SBS for delivering outstanding value for money to taxpayers.

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