Speaking at the Get Ready for Digital conference in Sydney, Mr Brown announced that the new channel, SBS2, will replace the World News Channel on 1 June.
SBS2 will feature a mix of programming content including time-shifted programming from the main SBS channel, more foreign movies, sports and documentaries. From the outset it appears that it could be an SBS version of ABC2.
Signature sporting events such as the Ashes and the Tour de France could get greater coverage on SBS2 although the Ashes will continue to be shown on the SBS1 channel.
In announcing the new channel, Mr Brown said that some initiatives within the broadcaster had been put on hold in order to allow SBS2 to get up and running prior to getting full Government funding support. The broadcaster has asked the Government for $70 million a year for the next triennial funding period to support expansion of digital services which could also include further channels SBS3 and SBS4.
The announcement of the launch of SBS2 comes just days after Network Ten launched its high-definition sports channel One, and Ten chief Grant Blackley has today also flagged the possibility of launching an additional digital channel to sit between Ten and One.
Last week, Nine’s David Gyngell made vague noises about a new digital channel. And the Seven Network is still to lay its cards on the table as to its digital strategy despite chief David Leckie announcing over a month ago that an announcement would be imminent – and despite Seven being historically the only of the commercial networks to embrace the concept of multi-channelling.
And wishful thinking brings hope that today’s conference might shed some light on community television gaining access to the digital spectrum. So far, only indigenous broadcaster NITV has been given access to broadcast on digital free-to-air, via trial service Digital 44 in Sydney. The other community broadcasters – TVS Sydney, C31 Melbourne, QCTV Brisbane and C31 Adelaide – are still left wanting for access to digital.