SBS takes back control of Food channel as controversial programming deal comes to an end

Poh Ling Yeow

SBS has announced that its dedicated free-to-air food channel, Food Network, will become SBS Food from 17 November.

The change comes as a deal with US based content distribution company Scripps International comes to an end.

The controversial 3-year deal, which has been in place since the launch of Food Network in 2015 restricted the channel to only sourcing international content from Scripps.

As originally revealed by this website, the deal gave SBS access to plenty of cheap content at a time when their budget was being cut by the Federal government, but Scripps also benefited, receiving a direct share of advertising revenue generated from the channel.

Scripps also had an editorial say in what programming was broadcast on the government channel, leading complaints SBS Food Network was too focused on US reality-style content.

From November 17, SBS will take full control of the channel, promising a broader range of programming. While shows featuring Rachael Ray, Andrew Zimmern, and Ted Allen will disappear, replaced with a focus on premium Australian distinctive content exploring the world through cooking, cuisine and culinary cultures.

SBS Director of TV & Online Content, Marshall Heald, said: “SBS Food provides us with an opportunity to build on SBS’s 30 year history in food, and through a refined content strategy, secure a more diverse mix of shows that will give audiences more of what they love to indulge in on the channel.

“SBS Food will feature more famous Australian and global food personalities including some of SBS’s much-loved favourites including Adam Liaw, Poh Ling Yeow, Shane Delia, Peter Kuruvita, Luke Nguyen and for the first time Maeve O’Meara, alongside Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Rick Stein, Jamie Oliver and Kylie Kwong.

“We’re also excited to continue to discover and nurture home-grown talent and develop new programs following the success we’ve had introducing fresh new local faces to Australian audiences over the last 12 months.

“SBS Food is less reality food and more real food and will continue our commitment to broadcasting multicultural food-related content, introducing and educating audiences about different cultures, going to the core of SBS’s unique purpose,” Mr Heald added. 

SBS Food will continue as a free, 24/7 channel, alongside SBS, SBS VICELAND and NITV. As well as extending the sought-after SBS Food offering available on the SBS website, content from the channel will also be available on SBS On Demand. 

SBS’s flagship food programs will continue to air on weeknights at 6pm and Wednesday evenings on SBS.