This is a printer friendly page
Free for educational use
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


Students explore how and why civic and political rights, government policies and national identity have changed over time in Australia.

Students have the opportunmity to examine the development of multiculturalism in Australia and explore ways in which government policies, including immigration and Aborigibnal policies have changed over time.

Students evaluate Australian society’s effectiveness in balancing majority rule and respect for minorities in civil decision making.

Students develop skills in collective decision making and informed civic action.

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. Students investiagte the meaning of ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘assimilation’ by brainstorming initial ideas, looking at dictionary definitions and then examining how the words are currently being used in Australia in debates about our immigration and citizenship policies. Who is responsible for developing immigration policies in Australia? What is the current federal government’s attitude towards multiculturalism?

2. Using the video clip, the internet and other sources, students investigate the ethnic demography of the Australian population at the time of the establishment of SBS in the 1970s and SBS‘s demography today. What are the trends in population composition? To what extent does the student cohort in the class/school reflect this population composition?

3. Using the video clip examine how and why SBS was established in the 1970s. Make an assessment as to who listens to and who watches SBS today? Analyse the reasons for/for not listening/watching. Using a television/radio guide investigate how many community groups have time on SBS radio and television in any one week of broadcasting. Identify community groups who do not appear to be represented in the broadcasting with possible explanations.

4. Describe the ways in which this clip would be useful to an historian investigating the changing rights and freedoms of immigrants in Australia. How might community broadcasting support social cohesion ? Why has SBS television recently included advertisements in its programs? In what ways does community broadcasting, like SBS, offer programs that other commercial broadcasters would not broadcast?

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