This thesis argues that multicultural broadcasting policy in Australia is a form of social agency which not only recognises that massive shifts in the composition of the Australian population, especially since 1947, but whose various institutions actively produce social change through challenging accustomed forms of representation of national identity.
Multiculturalism in Australia was the official policy which produced the Special Broadcasting Service. However, as SBS-TV developed, its interpretation and rendering of multiculturalism changed. A range of ‘minoritarianisms’, extending beyond ethnicity into indigeneity, gender, sexual preference, disability, and so on, seemed to mutate out of the original motivation for establishing the post-1947 migrant servicing institution. Once installed, then, multiculturalism was not just enacted through SBS but was modulated and changed by it.
To understand how these changes took place we need to look at the history of multiculturalism in Australia and its implications for Australian broadcast policy. Part One of the thesis provides that history by re-framing a range of already know sources which trace the growth and development of a range of broadcasting institutions from community ethnic and commercial media to SBS radio and television. Part Two is more speculative but also provides another kind of history; it looks in detail at how SBS-TV has changed the meaning of multiculturalism. In addition to developing evidence of the nature and character of that change, the thesis argues that SBS has made it in response to its own specific needs as a cultural and commercial institution.