This is great work by the team over at Decider TV. The SBS Food Network will launch on SBS 3 next week, which is great. We need a free-to-air food network. Well, I want one at least. However, it turns out that the ownership of the Food Network will be dubious. The SBS is currently financed through a combination of government funding and advertising. Operating on less than a quarter of the ABC’s budget, revenue from advertising only accounts for 20% of SBS funding. The SBS Food Network is going to feature many food shows originally commissioned by the SBS, such as Destination Flavour.
Much of the funding for the channel was obtained through a deal with Scripps, the US based production company that produces the majority of the programming on their cable Food Network. The details of the deal are in the article, but the major concern is that too much of the content will be American, which might not attract Australian audiences. Scripps were trying to make a similar deal with Foxtel, who turned it down for this reasoning, but Cupcake Wars is on Foxtel. Chopped is on the Food Network (my sister and I got very invested in it when we were in Florida), and it’s much better than Cupcake Wars, so if we get Chopped, that can only be considered a win.
The concern about a flood of US-based content is understandable, but given that Australian free-to-air networks have a mandate to produce a certain amount of local content per year, we shouldn’t worry too much, especially since SBS is a public broadcaster. Furthermore, SBS is known for importing food shows from around the world, like the Heston Blumenthal show, and also the one where Sue Perkins goes ‘back in time’ and lives as they would have in, for example, the Victorian era. Who knows, it may be possible that the food shows coming out of Scandinavia are as good as the Scandi-noir dramas. One of the best things about food is that it’s universal, and if SBS Food is an SBS station, there should be programming from all around the world. We’ll just have to wait and see.