Producers call on ABC to “quarantine” Drama, Kid’s TV from budget cuts

2014-04-14_1111Australian screen producers have weighed in to the debate on ABC cuts calling on the broadcaster to quarantine expenditure on television drama and children’s television programming, regardless of any budget cuts.

Matthew Deaner, Executive Director of Screen Producers Australia, has written to ABC Managing Director Mark Scott urging any trimming to come from operational structures not local content.

“ABC audiences love their Australian drama and the nation’s parents rely on the ABC to provide quality programming for their kids. There has been a stunning resurgence in quality ABC drama over recent years with programs such as Rake, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and The Slap as well as children’s content such as Dance Academy and Nowhere Boys garnering both huge local audiences and succeeding on the international stage and we want that standard to be maintained.”

In February Mark Scott said of a Senate estimates review, “If our funding were somehow cut, we would need to look at all our services – radio, television, online – in the cities and in the bush.

“Nothing would be spared from that kind of review, and I can give no guarantee on any services, that any services could be spared, including rural services, if our funding was cut,” he said.

Screen Producers Australia says the ABC’s recent written response to the review indicated cuts have already been made by the ABC to Drama and Comedy Content of $1.62 million and Children’s Content of $4.135 million.

“In light of these existing reductions and in the absence of any firm commitments from the ABC, the independent production sector is being left to rely on misinformation in the media or rumours and leaks that undermine confidence in the sector and undermines the capacity for Australian production businesses to adequately plan for the future,” Deaner said.

“This is a sector that contributes substantially to both the cultural and economic life of our nation.

“Screen production companies are by nature entrepreneurial, creative technology businesses which raise investments from domestic and international sources, employ thousands of Australians and in turn develop a work force with globally transferable skills and then sell content to domestic and international markets and territories that entertain a global audience. Their output binding our communities together in powerful story telling while every dollar invested provides positive returns to Australia’s GDP.”

The ABC is yet to outline the future for Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries despite the show and its star attracting Logie nominations.


  1. TexasPhryneFan

    I have all the DVDs and am just sick there might not be a season 3. Surely the BBC will pick it up if that’s true? This show is too good to stop now.

  2. The answer to Dans is that there are very few dramas which the ABC own outright as it contributes a licence fee to screen the show and often the ABC will invest equity which it recoups along with any other investors. Janet King is one fully funded by the ABC together with a producer tax rebate of 20% and maybe a small advance against foreign sales by a distributor. But the reality is that prices paid for overseas sales are very low compared to the actual cost of production. The sad thing about the above story is that Mark Scott seems to have followed a predicable path of previous CEOS and cut drama, and kids at first instance. Kids has taken this big hit yet this is the very group which can’t bit torrent hit shows and explore alternative ways to source content. Any cuts should have come from adult drama and comedy first and kids after. But will Mark Scott take on the news departments…

  3. If “Screen production companies are by nature entrepreneurial” as claimed, why is the SPA panicking as usual at the at the mention of so far hypothetical efficiency measure?

    They’d still get taxpayer money from the ABC, government art’s funding bodies, tax-concessions, TV licence concessions and the commercial networks are forced to use them because of the drama quota system in their broadcast licences.

    The sky is not falling.

  4. @David Knox – when the ABC sells their programs to overseas broadcasters, do they keep the money and reinvest it, or does it go back to the government?

  5. Maev....Sydney

    I have friends in the US that love Phryne Fisher…and wanting more…also waiting on Dr. Blake and hoping for Janet King….they love our Aussie shows over there…

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