SBS to launch free multilingual news channel

SBS will expand its multilingual news service in 2022 with WorldWatch, a new channel including Mandarin and Arabic bulletins.
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SBS has announced it will further expand its multilingual services in 2022, with the launch of its sixth free-to-air television channel providing news from around the world to Australian audiences.

SBS WorldWatch will feature an extensive line-up of bulletins from leading international broadcasters in more than 30 languages and be the free-to air television home to new locally produced 30-minute Arabic and Mandarin language TV news programs.

These new services – SBS عربي News and SBS 中文 News – will provide Australia’s large and diverse Arabic- and Mandarin-speaking communities with coverage, context and insight into the major national and international stories of the day. Produced and presented locally by SBS journalists for an Australian audience, they will premiere on SBS On Demand in January ahead of the new channel launch.

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SBS WorldWatch joins the five existing free-to-air television channel, joining SBS, National Indigenous Television (NITV), SBS VICELAND, SBS Food and SBS World Movies.

SBS Managing Director, James Taylor, said: ‘SBS is the most multilingual broadcaster in the world and we are continuing to evolve our services, finding new and innovative ways to enhance and strengthen our language offering across platforms, and ensure SBS’s content and trusted news coverage is increasingly accessible to audiences.

SBS WorldWatch, will feature an extensive line-up of bulletins from leading international broadcasters in more than 30 languages, and will also be the free-to air television home to new locally produced 30-minute Arabic and Mandarin language TV news programs.

Expanding news services

The new news services follows the launch earlier this year of SBS 中文, a dedicated digital service for Australia’s Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking communities that included news, short-form video and audio content. They also come in addition to SBS’s investment in a growing collection of current affairs, documentaries and dramas that are available with subtitles in six languages on SBS On Demand (including Arabic and Simplified Chinese).

WorldWatch news already exists and has been featured on SBS’s daytime line-up since 1993, initially presenting news from China, America, Germany and Russia. It currently screens on SBS Viceland, but the new dedicated channel will allow for 24/7 international news without breaks and interruptions.

SBS Director of News and Current Affairs, Mandi Wicks said: ‘SBS is uniquely placed to reach and engage the many Australians who speak a language other than English, and our truly global newsroom is a real point of difference in the media landscape.’

‘In 2022, we’re thrilled to be increasing our commitment to more multilingual news through a new, dedicated channel, as well as adding bespoke SBS news programs for two of the nation’s largest and fastest growing language groups, Arabic and Mandarin. Ensuring access to relevant, up-to-date news and information for all Australians promotes civic, cultural and social participation, which is at the heart of our purpose.’

With one in five Australian speaking a language other than English at home, the multicultural broadcasting network has been providing multilingual services for more than 45 years and the expansion of its news services fits with that core brief of serving Australia’s diverse society.

Rochelle Siemienowicz is a journalist for Screenhub. She is a writer, film critic and cultural commentator with a PhD in Australian cinema. She was the co-host of Australia's longest-running film podcast 'Hell is for Hyphenates' and has written a memoir, Fallen, published by Affirm Press. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram

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