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Ethnic Community Broadcasting

Video clip synopsis – Liz Jacka talks about how SBS was established to cater to minority communities as part of multicultural policy in the late 1970s.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 1min 11sec
Tags - audiences, broadcasting, changing communities, human rights, identity, media and society, media ownership, multiculturalism, popular culture, self-determination, see all tags


Ethnic Community Broadcasting

How to Download the Video Clip

To download a free copy of this Video Clip choose from the options below. These require the free Quicktime Player.

download clip icon Premium MP4 ethnic_pr.mp4 (8.7MB).

ipod icon Broadband MP4 ethnic_bb.mp4 (4.1MB), suitable for iPods and computer downloads.

Additional help.

About the Video Clip


The interview with Liz Jacka was recorded for the website.

Liz Jacka is an Author and Professor in Communications Studies for the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney. You can view her full biography at From Wireless to Web

The website is a selective history of broadcast media in Australia. Decade by decade, from radio and newsreels to TV and the internet, this history shows how the Australian broadcast media developed and shaped the way Australians see themselves.

From Wireless to Web is a Film Australia production in association with Roar Film.

Curriculum Focus


Inquiry Questions
How have the rights and freedoms of Aboriginal peoples and other groups in Australia changed during the post-war period?

A student:
5.1 explains social, political and cultural developments and events and evaluates their impact on Australian life
5.3 explains the changing rights and freedoms of Aboriginal peoples and other groups in Australia
5.8 locates, selects and organises relevant historical information from a number of sources, including ICT, to undertake historical inquiry
5.10 selects and uses appropriate oral, written and other forms, including ICT, to communicate effectively about the past for different audiences.
Students Learn About:
the role of ONE of the following in the history of post-WW2 migration:
– multiculturalism

Students Learn To:
outline the important developments in a key event/issue relating to the chosen study.

This material is an extract. Teachers and students should consult the Board of Studies website for more information.

Background Information


Following World War II, the Government was concerned about the broadcast of politically subversive material. In 1952 the Australian Broadcasting Control Board (ABCB) limited the total level of non-English programming to two-and-a-half per cent, and 'ethnic’ broadcasters had to translate what they were saying into English every 100 words.

The ABCB’s controls meant that English was preserved as the language of Australia’s mainstream media. By 1972 there was very little broadcasting in languages other than English, in only six languages. But this was at odds with the arrival in Australia of millions of migrants and refugees from war-torn Europe, many coming from non-English-speaking backgrounds.

In 1975 the Government acted upon the concerns of the ethnic community and abolished language restrictions in broadcasting. Two trial 'ethnic’ radio stations were established – Sydney’s 2EA and Melbourne’s 3EA.

Then the introduction of FM licenses and the extra AM station licenses paved the way for community radio. Ethnic communities were among the first groups to receive licenses, and in 1979 Brisbane’s 4EB became Australia’s first full-time ethnic community radio station, followed in 1980 by Adelaide’s 5EBI. (Liddell Beyond the Pasta and Dance Routine)

Growing out of the 1970s 'ethnic’ radio experiment in Sydney and Melbourne, SBS Radio is now a national network, broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week. SBS Radio produces more than 13,500 hours of Australian-made programs every year for audiences in Sydney and Melbourne and for its national network to Adelaide and the Adelaide foothills, Bathurst, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart, Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, Perth, Wagga Wagga, Wollongong and Young (NSW). All programs are also streamed directly onto the Internet, together with special features, news bulletins and other information.

The main audience for SBS Radio is the 2.7 million Australians who speak a language other than English at home. The network broadcasts programs in almost seventy languages. Malay, Somali, Amharic and Nepalese language groups are the newest additions to SBS Radio’s array of programs in languages other than English.

Classroom Activities

  1. Explain the reasons why was SBS founded.
    Describe the purpose of SBS radio.
  2. Find out more about SBS by using the link below. Imagine that it is DATE. Use the information that you have found to write a short feature article on the story of ethnic broadcasting in Australia. Use the link below to learn more about writing feature articles.
  3. Describe the ways in which this clip would be useful to an historian investigating the changing rights and freedoms of immigrants in Australia.

Further Resources


Go to From Wireless to Web for more about the history of broadcast media in Australia.

Go to SBS Corporation, A brief history of SBS