Dear Mr Miller,
Thank you for your email dated 26 February 2016 regarding our Macedonian language program.
SBS Audio and Language Content values audience comments – such as yours – on our programs and services. Our purpose is to inspire all Australians to explore and appreciate our diverse world and contribute to an inclusive and cohesive society. In our programming we aspire to represent a significant range of perspectives on issues of public interest and relevance to our target communities including the Macedonian audience. It is important to highlight that all of our ALC services – including the Macedonian program – are language based and not guided by, or representative of any particular nationality, country, geographical region, group, tribe or religion. Our radio service operates under the SBS Charter, which dictates that programs are chosen on the basis of language, not by ethnic origins of our audiences or any other criteria.
Employees at SBS abide by a rigorous Code of Conduct and Guidelines set by the corporation on standards of professional integrity, values and purpose. At the same time SBS is committed to meeting its Charter obligations of providing news and information services for all Australians from diverse cultural backgrounds. It is important to SBS that the Macedonian language program is representative of the needs of its Australian audience and that the news and information services are relevant to all segments of the Macedonian speaking audience in Australia.
SBS is aware of the sensitivities around the use of the name ‘Macedonia’. The dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in relation to this matter affects a range of our stakeholders. In recognition of this, SBS policy for our television news and current affairs reporting is generally to use ‘the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ in the first reference. SBS may then continue with that term or refer to the ‘Republic of Macedonia’ or ‘Macedonia’ thereafter in the particular news item.
The SBS Radio Macedonian language program is not required to refer in the first instance to ‘the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’, and may refer to the ‘Republic of Macedonia’ or ‘Macedonia’ in recognition of the distinct language community it serves.
Macedonian is recognised as the official language of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (see for example the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs website fact sheet on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia at http://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/fs/former-yugoslav-republic-of-macedonia.pdf. Macedonian is also recognised as a language by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Furthermore, in the Australian context, the terminology “Slav-Macedonian” was ruled discriminatory and unlawful, as per the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s decision of 8 September, 2000.
Therefore, SBS considers it has adopted a reasonable approach in the way it refers to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which recognises community sensitivities in Australia. SBS’s policy on this matter will not change for the present.
Strategy & Community Engagement Manager
SBS 14 Herbert Street
Artarmon NSW 2064 Australia