The SBS and ABC are exploring options for the multicultural broadcaster to abandon its Federation Square studios and offices and move into the ABC’s Melbourne headquarters and its new five-storey production centre at Southbank.
Giving up its current base at Federation Square would free up funds for SBS to spend on new programs and services. However, this move might be controversial internally because of concerns about undermining the broadcaster’s separate identity. These concerns were also expressed recently by former Australian prime minister and SBS father Malcolm Fraser.
Shared ABC and SBS facilities was a key recommendation of the Abbott government’s efficiency review of the two broadcasters.
SBS’s Federation Square headquarters, which includes television and digital radio studios, was opened in 2003 to house its 160 Melbourne staff. The ABC is building a $176 million headquarters, including a TV production centre, next to its existing Southbank offices.
According to Fairfax Media the ABC is willing to house SBS’s Melbourne staff and believes sufficient space could be found in its premises.
SBS and ABC would be likely to share studio facilities, cameras, equipment and other back-office functions for the first time.
One option, favoured by the government, is for the ABC to rent the space to SBS.
Negotiations are believed to be in a formative stage. Both broadcasters are preparing themselves for more cuts later this year after a combined $43.5 million base-funding cut in the May budget.
ABC managing director Mark Scott said last week that he was working with SBS to see if, by working more closely together, the two state-funded broadcasters could make backroom savings while remaining independent editorially.
Source: Fairfax Media