Drama Report 2012-13: It’s all about the ABC.

TV Drama production hits record levels -and the boost can be attributed to the ABC.

2013-10-25_2358However you look at Screen Australia’s Drama Report for 2012-13, TV Drama is a winner.

Australian Television Drama expenditure has reached the highest levels on record, increasing by 27% (although rising costs are also a factor) while film production has dropped 16%.

There was good news on the Children’s Drama front. After 3 years of contraction, it almost doubled in hours on the previous year.

While all broadcasters increased their investment the real boost in production can be attributed to the ABC. As the largest contributor of investment of any single broadcaster this is a direct result of their triennial government funding.

Such increases continue the shift from long-form drama to the miniseries (up to 12 eps), which has been rising over the past five years and reached its highest result to date.

Here are the annual results of the financial year 2012-13 (2011-12 results in brackets). The annual slate is defined as productions that started principal photography during the year:

In 2013 there were 56 Australian TV dramas (45) with total expenditure in Australia at $372 million ($279m) up by 7% (-13%). This comprised $273m ($200m) industry investment and $38m ($31m) government investment. There was $44m ($50m) foreign investment.

The total hours of produced drama was 656 hours (549 hrs).

The adult TV drama slate comprised 40 titles (38) across 502 hours (470) with total budgets of $314m ($282m) and expenditure in Australia of $306m ($264m). Overall hours increased by 7 per cent and budgets and spend by 11 per cent and 16 per cent respectively.  With two long-running serials made for Seven (Home and Away) and TEN (Neighbours), these two networks continued to account for the largest share of production hours, followed by the ABC, which had a record 19 programs made for it this year.

There were 16 titles (7) with 154 hours of programs (79) with total budgets of $92 million ($53m). It’s been a great year for Kid’s TV. Children’s programs made for the ABC accounted for the largest share of both hours and budgets this year, with 11 titles. The majority of children’s programs made for the commercial free-to-air broadcasters this year were animated. Programs made for the ABC included a mix of live-action and animation.

Foreign TV drama activity accounted for a total of $21 ($8m) in Australian expenditure. There were 2 (5) titles Camp (USA) and the German telemovie Traumschiff. But expenditure by foreign projects carrying out post, digital or visual effects (PDV) work in Australia declined. The PDV sector as a whole has experienced a contraction over the last 12 months with the high Australian dollar of recent years challenging the sector’s ability to attract foreign PDV work.

STATE ACTIVITY: Location of expenditure ( includes film production)
NSW: 57% (54%)
Vic: 32% (30%)
Qld: 3% (9%)
SA: 7% (2%)
WA: 3% (2%)
TAS / ACT / NT: 1% (<1%)

However, feature film and TV drama activity generated by NSW-based companies continued to account for the majority of production in 2012/13 at 81 per cent, followed by Victoria at 13 per cent.

The Australian industry contributed $273m ($200m) towards financing. The largest proportion came from the commercial free-to-air broadcasters.

Direct government sources contributed $38m ($31m) to 33 programmes. Screen Australia was the principal source of government finance, with $27m ($22m) invested in 20 (19) titles.

Screen Australia CEO Dr. Ruth Harley said, “The television broadcasters have raised their stakes, with all broadcasters increasing their investment in Australian drama.

“In particular, it’s been an outstanding couple of years for the ABC, which financed 30 titles in the 2012/13 slate, providing the largest contribution of investment of any single broadcaster. The ABC’s recent triennial funding boost has enabled it to commission significant levels of high-quality, original drama. This has produced great results for the industry and audiences with titles such as Serangoon Road, The Gods of Wheat Street and returning seasons of Redfern Now and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries,” said Dr Harley.

The results were also welcomed by industry lobby groups.

Harold Mitchell, Chairman of Free TV Australia (which represents Seven, Nine, TEN and regional broadcasters) said, “Commercial TV broadcasters are the linchpin of the Australian production sector.

“No other platform comes close to our investment in original local content.

“Commercial television broadcasters are proud to be the leading underwriters of Australian programming, committing record investment despite the toughest trading conditions in memory.

“Free TV networks sustain a vibrant, dynamic industry that employs 15,000 Australians: 7,500 directly and 7,500 indirectly– including writers, directors, production crew, actors, performers and other professionals.”

Screen Producers Association of Australia, Executive Director Matthew Deaner said, “The growth in the quality and popularity of Australian television comes as a result of careful government policy settings over many years.

“Much of the strong growth in 2012/13 is a result of the increased appropriation to the ABC which has resulted in programs such as Redfern Now, Rake, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Twentysomething.

“This increase in broadcaster funding has contributed to export growth both in program sales and income from the sale of formats for programs such as Rake and The Slap. This has helped to develop entrepreneurial small businesses that employ thousands of Australians and contributes positively to the balance of trade,” said Deaner.

“And the growth in popularity of Australian programs on commercial television is also a dividend from long-term policy settings ensuring Australians have access to Australian content in prime time. To maintain these results great care must be taken with these policy settings to ensure growth continues into the future.”

Elegant Gentleman’s Guide to Knife Fighting, The
Jungleboys FTV Pty Limited

Home and Away series 26
Seven Network Operations Limited

Housos series 2
Housos Productions

It’s a Date
High Waters Holding,
Princess Pictures Pty Ltd

Ja’mie: Private School Girl
Princess Pictures Pty Ltd

Neighbours series 30
FremantleMedia Australia

Guesswork Television

Twentysomething series 2
High Wire Films,
Electric Living Productions

Untitled Chris Lilley Project
Princess Pictures Pty Ltd

Upper Middle Bogan
Gristmill Pty Ltd,
Happy Thumb Pty Ltd

Winners & Losers series 3
Seven Network

FremantleMedia Australia

Better Man
FremantleMedia Australia,
Bravado Productions

Devil’s Playground
Matchbox Pictures Pty Ltd

Gods of Wheat Street, The
Every Cloud Productions

House Husbands series 2
Playmaker Media 2 SPV Pty Ltd

Janet King
Screentime Pty Ltd

Love Child
Playmaker Media 4 SPV Pty Ltd

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries series 2
Every Cloud Productions

Mr & Mrs Murder
FremantleMedia Australia,
Bravado Productions

Never Tear Us Apart: The Untold Story of INXS
Shine Australia

Offspring series 4
Southern Star John Edwards

Old School
Matchbox Pictures Pty Ltd

Packed to the Rafters series 6
Seven Productions

Paper Giants: Magazine Wars
Southern Star Entertainment Pty Ltd

Place to Call Home, A
Seven Network Operations

Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch Story
Southern Star Entertainment

Puberty Blues series 2
Southern Star John Edwards

Rake series 3
Essential Media and Entertainment Pty Ltd

Redfern Now series 2
Blackfella Films Pty Ltd

Secrets & Lies
Hoodlum Active Pty Ltd

Underbelly: Squizzy series 6
Screentime Pty Ltd

FremantleMedia Australia

Accidental Soldier, An
Goalpost Pictures Australia,
Taylor Media

TV1 General Entertainment Partnership

Broken Shore, The
Essential Media and Entertainment Pty Ltd

Story Ark Productions

Jack Irish: Dead Point
Essential Media and Entertainment Pty Ltd

Dance Academy series 3
Werner Film Productions

Day My Butt Went Psycho, The
Studio Moshi
Brain Bender Pty Ltd

Dennis the Menace and
Gnasher series 2
Sticky Pictures Pty Ltd

Dukes of Broxstonia, The,
series 3
Sticky Pictures Pty Ltd

Flamin Thongs, The
MWP-RDB Thongs Pty Ltd

Get Ace
Galaxy Pop Pty Limited

Hairy Legs
Southern Star Entertainment Pty Ltd

Hoopla Doopla!
Beyond Screen Production Pty Ltd,
The Content Agency

Nowhere Boys
Matchbox Pictures Pty Ltd

Sam Fox: Extreme Adventures
SLR Productions

Skinner Boys, The
SLR Productions,
Top Draw Animation

Worst Year of My Life – Again!, The
Worst Year Productions Pty Ltd

You’re Skitting Me series 2
Jigsaw Entertainment Pty Ltd,
Australian Children’s Television Foundation

Hard Rock Medical (Australia/Canada)
Hard Rock Medical Productions Pty Ltd,
Moody Street Productions Pty Ltd

Serangoon Road (Australia/Singapore)
Great Western Entertainment Pty Ltd,
Infinite Frameworks Pty Ltd

Jar Dwellers SOS (Australia/Canada)
Kalidor Pty Ltd trading as Viskatoons,
Jar Dwellers Production Pty Ltd

Lah-Lah’s Adventures (Australia/Canada)
Stella Projects Pty Ltd,
Bardel Entertainment Inc

Sally Bollywood series 2 (Australia/France)
Three’s A Company P/L (Australia),
Tele Images Kids

Camp (US)
Camp Matchbox Productions Pty Ltd

Traumschiff (Germany)
Polyphon Film,
Satelite Pictures

Screen Australia Drama Report 2012-13

7 Responses

  1. David. It would be good if we could have the ACMA figures for Australian drama quota for the commercial networks. I think they will establish that the commercial networks are not making anymore or barely more than they have to under the quota and the large increase is due to the ABC. If this is the case then increasing the Producer Offset to 40% for TV will just deliver a gift to the commercial networks but no more drama hours. If the Coalition reduces the ABC’s budget then drama will be the first thing ABC management will cut which was exactly what happened under the Howard government. There is a very false sense of security here and the losers will be the audience.

  2. David, Where are the Dr. Blake Mysteries? Are they next year or last year? I thought they had commenced filming the next series, or was that an announcement that they were going to in the future?

  3. It seems we are mostly watching these dramas also. It is great having our own stories on screen even if some are not done well and we disagree passionately on here about which ones are done well. I love that our actors and crew can stay in AU also.

Leave a Reply