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Australia’s SBS Launches Linear Movie Channel

Australia’s SBS is to launch a free-to-air movie channel dedicated to international cinema. SBS World Movies will begin operating from July 1, 2019. SBS or Special Broadcasting Service is a public private partnership operating as a TV, radio and online broadcaster.

SBS World Movies describes itself as “a celebration of the diversity of global cinema.” It aims to program 700 titles per year, with at least half in a language other than English, and ranging from European arthouse, to Bollywood, anime, award-winning favorites, and new releases.

While further launch titles will be unveiled in the coming weeks, the company said that its lineup will include: as “Amanda’ (France), “The 12th Man” (Norway), “Just A Breath Away” (France), “Ash is the Purest White” (China), “Aligarth” (India), “Girl” (Belgium), and “Killing of a Sacred Deer.”

SBS World Movies will also feature curated seasons of special programming to mark cultural events, festivals and celebrations such as Diwali, Lunar New Year, International Women’s Day and Mardi Gras. Each week, the schedule will feature a Women in Film double-bill of female filmmakers and lead actors, as well as festival favorites and emerging territories, showcasing films from far-flung locations.

The launch of a linear movie channel at a moment when the TV landscape is shifting towards VoD, and original series are gaining traction over movies on TV, runs counter to prevailing trends. But SBS remains confident.

“SBS is always exploring ways to deliver more distinctive content to audiences in service of its charter. We know that audiences come to us for content they don’t find anywhere else, and SBS World Movies brings a new and truly unique offering to Australians on free-to-air TV.  In addition to the free-to-air offering, most of the films will be available to stream for free on SBS On Demand,” a spokesman told Variety by email.

“Movies provide people with the opportunity to escape to worlds outside of our own, with stories that entertain and inspire us, make us think, laugh and even cry. International cinema does this in a truly unique way, and has been an important part of SBS’s offering for decades, giving Australians the opportunity to delve into cultures through cinematic masterpieces captivating audiences around the world,” said SBS Managing Director, James Taylor.

SBS World Movies will broadcast in HD on channel 32 alongside SBS’s existing channels, SBS, SBS VICELAND, SBS Food and NITV. SBS World Movies will also be SBS’s third HD channel.

The launch announcement came the same day Nine and News Corp owned Australian News Channel, announced that they are to close the Your Money channel. The channel airs on both Foxtel and free to air. It was launched in October last year and will close on Friday May 17.

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