ABC bid for direct role in funding

Citing the apparent success of Aussie films on TV, the ABC says Screen Australia should hand over funding of television projects.

In its submission to the 2010 Review of the Australian Independent Screen Production Sector, the ABC has suggested Screen Australia stop funding television and hand the job over to the public broadcasters, ABC and SBS.

The submission is one of many being considered by Federal Arts Minister Peter Garrett.

The ABC suggests the new rebate financing model for film and TV, the producer offset, be increased to 40 per cent for TV productions.

Television is regularly seen as the “poor cousin” to film. The current government rebate on qualifying TV productions is 20 per cent, and 40 per cent for films.

The ABC’s submission to the review argues television often offers “greater cultural value for money” than film, citing the recent example of four Australian films, The Proposition, Oyster Farmer, Lucky Miles and Romulus, My Father, that were each viewed by more than 800,000 people on the ABC, for a total ABC audience of almost four million, whereas a total of 750,000 Australians saw the four films in cinemas.

“With the ABC behind them, these films made an impact on Australian cultural life and our sense of national identity that could not be emulated — not by cinema, not by pay-TV, and not by internet TV,” the submission states.

However, as previously reported by TV Tonight last February, the numbers for the films in 5 metro cities in overnight figures were actually softer:

The Oyster Farmer: 899,000
The Proposition: 577,000
Lucky Miles: 519,000
Romulus, My Father: 513,000

On those figures, only one would qualify as a TV success.

Meanwhile Samson and Delilah pulled 646,000 last November.

The ABC argues it is best placed to determine what local content Australians should see on TV, in concert with market-based decisions by the commercial broadcasters.

The industry review is currently under consideration by the Federal Government.

Source: The Australian

11 Responses

  1. The ABC have appointed a Channel Controller for ABC1, who starts on August 1st and they are actively looking for a Head of Fiction – so I remain optimistic there is a genuine commitment from Kim Dalton to address the huge structural and leadership issues that have lead to the terminally compromised choices that have been made over the past few years. If they make another bad appointment they’ll drift sideways for another few years and miss this window to permanently secure a realistic drama budget – and that would be a disaster for all of us.

  2. They will never be a leader in drama in the near future considering the announcements made this year. They are not interested in implementing structure or people who will make things happen and to hear of this submission is rather ridiculous and affirms the culture in this tax payer funded body.

  3. Note to Kim Dalton – better get that drama commissioning restructure right and then go on a roadshow and sell it to the independent community if you want any support for this initiative. (Nice to know I’m not the only utterly disillusioned with ABC drama).

  4. The ABC making these decisions? Heaven help us! Agree that Screen Australia is lacking, but the ABC is just as bad when it comes to drama and the way it is run. Jobs for the boys (er girls) is rampant within the commissioning departments which has led to a delivery of absolute rubbish in the past – and looks no better in the future. If the ABC had any guts it would have an industry forum on how it should be run, not make it up as they go.

  5. @ Mike I completely agree with everything you say, however I look forward to the day when the ABC can be a leader in drama again. It takes leadership, vision and the funds to pay for it. I think the extended run for BOR precipitated drama a crisis at the ABC and has lead to a restructuring of the department. @ Kate If the producer offset for TV was lifted to 40% it should be on the condition the ABC had to meet the same quota requirements as the commercials, and the funds be spent with the independent sector. SPAA has campaigned for a long time on this. I vote for reinventing the way the ABC commissions drama, not just abandoning it.

  6. No, way ABC. I have heard their promises on more local content for years, even when they managed to secure more funding they were bleating poverty.

    Who is to say the ABC is to be the best judge of what Australians want and should see in local drama? The days of G.P, Janus, Police Rescue & Blue Murder are long behind them.

    Nowadays it’s Bed of Roses that should have been axed after the first series, as apparently the Australian public does not like Kerry Armstrong’s acting vehicle as much as the ABC does, commissioning two more expensive series that continually get out rated by repeats of British drama (Doc Martin & New Tricks). Someone failed there ABC.

    So basically the ABC wants extra funding for its three golden stars, Susie Porter, Richard Roxburgh & Kerry Armstrong. Not to mention their mates.

    David, you’re being too soft, none of those movies would qualify a success really, maybe on the ABC when everyone has nearly just about given up on them, but even then the ABC would have a hard time convincing most of us that that was a success. It only looks like a success compared to the other dull, insipid and uninspiring offerings they have barely produced in the last four years.

    Kate, I agree completely.

  7. The ABC is a joke. They don’t produce nearly as much local content (minus news) as the commercial networks yet need five times the people to execute running the channel quite badly.

    They want more content, is that what they’re really asking for? Hold them to the same quotas as the commercial networks. If they choose waste money through inefficiency, bureaucracy and protectionism, the powers that be would pay the price in the real world.

  8. This proposal makes sense – broadcasters, for better or worse should control commissioning – Screen Australia is an expensive, time wasting, totally redundant, agent in the middle of a commissioning path. ABC content commissioning is currently being overhauled. If this strategy is successful the ABC need to guard against what Dave (rightly) is worried about – the sort of cronyism and bland commissioning that’s been going on, particularly over the past few years. The ABC will have to create a vibrant drama department with many doors – hopefully the new Heads of Content and Fiction are leaders.

  9. Not necessarily so ABC! – Sounds like they want to suck up more funds to pay out to their industry mates – former honchos like Penny Chapman and Ron Saunders etc. If their choices of recent years are any indication – more mid life sea change programs and half baked stories – Screen Australia would be better served funding the little guys. As a former ABC employee, I never thought I would advocate private sector, but their output is just shameful in that area.

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