Drama Report 2012

2012 has been the year of the Telemovie.

In Screen Australia’s Drama Report 2011-12, Telemovie production has ranked as the highest since 1999-2000. There were 10 Telemovies produced including 6 by the ABC (one of them, Cliffy will air next year).

But 2012 also saw Drama production drop from a 10 year high in 2011, with big drops in Children’s production and Foreign TV shoots in Australia.

Here are the annual results  of the financial year 2011-12 (2010-11 results in brackets):

In 2012 there were 45 Australian TV dramas (40) with total expenditure in Australia at $279m ($322m) down by 13%. This comprised $200m ($207m) Australian investment and $50m ($28m) by foreign production.

The total hours of produced drama was 549 hours (581 hrs), down by 6%.

The adult TV drama slate comprised 38 titles (31) across 470 hours (487) with total budgets of $267m ($261m) and expenditure in Australia of $249m ($261m). The decrease in hours continues the shift away from long-form production (series/serials) to short-form, higher-value production (mini-series and telemovies).

There were 7 titles (9) with 79 hours of programs (94) with total budgets of $53 million ($65m) in 2011/12, all lower than last year. Children’s drama production has gradually been decreasing, with expenditure declining sharply on last year, partly due to a gradual decrease in the number of co-productions.

Foreign TV drama activity accounted for a total of $8m in Australian expenditure in 2011/12, well down on $54m last year when Terra Nova was filming. There were 5 titles from the US, China, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka.

(NB: includes film production)
NSW: 51% (41)
Vic: 34% (25)
Qld: 10% (28)
SA: 3% (4)
WA / TAS / ACT / NT: 2% (2)

The Australian industry contributed $200m ($208m) towards financing. As usual, the largest proportion of this (and the largest from any sector) came from the commercial free-to-air broadcasters. The balance came from public broadcasters, subscription TV, distributors and production companies.

Direct government sources contributed $31m to 33 programmes, down from $44m last year. Screen Australia was the principal source of government finance, with $22 million invested in 19 titles, slightly down from the $24 million in 20 titles last year.

Screen Australia CEO Dr. Ruth Harley said, “The adult television drama slate has seen solid growth in the value of total budgets, which have now reached a five-year high.

“We’re seeing a shift away from long-form series to high-quality mini-series and telemovies, such as Network Nine’s Howzat!
Kerry Packer’s War
and Beaconsfield and the ABC’s Redfern Now. Telemovie production is the highest it’s been in 12 years.

“Although children’s drama was below average, with some of the programs made in previous years still going to air, 2012/13 looks set to show higher levels. A number of programs have been earmarked for production from the commercial free-to-air networks and the ABC.”

At Home With Julia Quail Television Pty Ltd, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Good News World GNW TV Pty Ltd
Home and Away series 25 Seven Network Operations Limited
Laid series 2 Laid 2 Pty Ltd
Lowdown series 2 High Wire Films
Micro Nation Freehand Productions Pty Ltd
A Moody Christmas Jungleboys
Neighbours series 29 FremantleMedia Australia
Packed to the Rafters series 5 Seven Productions
Please Like Me Pigeon Fancier Productions, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
The Strange Calls Hoodlum Entertainment and Hoodlum Active
Winners & Losers series 2 Seven Network

Brothers in Arms Screentime Pty Ltd
Devil’s Dust FremantleMedia Australia
The Doctor Blake Mysteries December Media Pty Ltd
House Husbands Playmaker 1 SPV Pty Ltd
Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War Southern Star Entertainment Pty Ltd
Offspring series 3 Southern Star Entertainment Pty Ltd
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Every Cloud Productions
Puberty Blues Southern Star Entertainment Pty Ltd
Rake series 2 Essential Media and Entertainment
Redfern Now Blackfella Films Pty Ltd
Reef Doctors Jonathan M Shiff Productions Pty Ltd
Time of Our Lives Jahm Pictures, Time Productions No 1 Pty Ltd
Top of the Lake See-Saw Films Pty Ltd
Tricky Business Screentime Pty Ltd
Underbelly: Badness series 5 Screentime Pty Ltd

Beaconsfield Southern Star John Edwards
Cliffy Clock End Films Pty Limited
Dangerous Remedy Summer Offensive Pty Ltd
Dripping in Chocolate Southern Star Entertainment Pty Ltd
The Great Mint Swindle Cordell Jigsaw Productions, Zinc Finger Films
Jack Irish: Bad Debts Essential Media and Entertainment
Jack Irish: Black Tide Essential Media and Entertainment
Mabo Tradewind Films Pty Ltd, Blackfella Films Pty Ltd
Mystery of a Hansom Cab Burberry Entertainment Pty Ltd
Underground: The Julian Assange Story Matchbox Pictures Pty Ltd

Bananas in Pyjamas series 6 Southern Star Entertainment Pty Ltd, Southern Star Singapore
Exchange Student Zero Bogan Entertainment Solutions
In Your Dreams Southern Star Entertainment Pty Ltd
Mako Mermaids Jonathan M Shiff Productions Pty Ltd
Teenage Fairytale Dropouts SLR Productions
You’re Skitting Me Jigsaw Entertainment Pty Ltd, Australian Children’s Television Foundation

Mrs Biggs: The Untold Story Behind the Great Train Robbery (Australia/UK) ITV Studios Global Entertainment, Seven Productions, February Films Pty Ltd

Vicky the Viking (Australia/France)ASE Studios Pty Ltd

Bade Achhe Lagte Hain (India) Balajii Telefilms
The Frontier (US) Sony Pictures Television
Jiang Ai (Cherish Your Love Forever) (China) Beijing Century Spring Media, Beijing Gallop Horse Film & TV Production, Le Grand Films
Mini Muthu (Sri Lanka) Sandamalie Moragolla, Sanjaya Moragolla, Dr Asela Panditha
Miracle of Love (Thailand) Ecom Locations Facilitation Company


  1. Too few Australian dramas rise above just enough colour & movement necessary to fill the gaps between commercial breaks. It all comes down to the story and script which is where so much drama falls short. Far too often we are presented with poorly written, poorly researched drivel churned out by writers who seem to have no experience of life beyond their film school course in scriptwriting.

    But perhaps the limited scope of Aussie drama, the very few engaging characters, the lack of richness of dialogue and the almost total absence of optimism and humour simply reflect the cultural wasteland that Australia is becoming.

  2. All it do with dollars & cents, and what we want watching TV, I do think TV has lost the plot along the way. I guess for many its just tacky talents shows, where all the good shows gone. No one wants to watch them, I do, I remember watching great shows like; I Spy, D4, The Cat, Wild Wild West, Softy Soflty, original upstair Downstairs, Hill St. Blues. During 60’s -80’s you felt the programmes were easily to find on TV, there was something for everyone, Lots of Australia own shows, lots of kids shows, over time this have disappear. However I could go on and on. No wonder some people are turning off live TV, just waiting for DVD.

  3. Very sobering set of numbers. FTAs are commissioning absolute quota minimums – with kids live action drama particularly hard hit. If it wasn’t for the ABC’s cash injection into the sector there would be a “crisis” being discussed. These figures strongly support the argument for the Producer Offset needing to be increased to 40% for television.

  4. That list proves a lack of comedy from the commercial networks and SBS.

    This country was built on variety and comedy and its a shame that the networks don’t want to put it on air.

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