Producers call for end to NZ content “loophole”

Producers are urging the government to put an end to New Zealand TV programmes qualifying as Australian content.

Under the Australia-NZ Economic Trade Agreement, NZ content be claimed as “local content” but Screen Producers Australia is calling on the government to address the issue.

SPA CEO Matthew Deaner said, “The loophole must be closed. Because of a lack of foresight when negotiating a trade deal with New Zealand in the 1980s, broadcasters can broadcast cheap, second-run New Zealand programs and have them qualify as Australian. Having New Zealand from Above and New Zealand on a Plate qualify as Australian content makes a mockery of the Australian Content Standard. This is one of the reasons why a content review, announced by the Government on the weekend, is long-overdue.

“The report lays bare the stress the industry is under and unfortunately, the commercial television broadcasters’ commitment to Australian drama and Australian children are the first casualties. Since 2013, the broadcasters’ expenditure on Australian drama has dropped nearly 30 per cent. At the same time, New Zealand drama is increasingly used as a cheap substitute. In 2016, Channel Nine acquit just over 40 per cent of its first-run drama quota on New Zealand content and TEN acquit 20 per cent of its first-run children’s drama quota on New Zealand content.

“Screen Producers Australia has developed proposals to address this loophole. We will continue to seek a solution to this growing problem.”

The push follows wholesale media reform changes proposed by the government, including a content review.

“On the weekend the Government announced further measures to provide some welcome relief for the commercial television broadcasters. However, the Government again missed an opportunity to shore up support for the Australian production industry and tie licence fee reductions to increases in commitments to independent production,” said Deaner.

Some productions such as Seven’s 800 Words include Australian co-prodution funding.


  1. While I support the idea of free trade agreements I don’t understand (and never have understood) why NZ content counting towards Australian content was ever part of it? Does the same happen over there in reverse? Australian content is Australian content – Aus made, Aus produced, Aus actors, etc – the whole idea of having Aus content restrictions on TV networks is to help support the industry in Australia.

    The whole idea of free trade agreements is to lift and barriers (usually by way of taxes and tariffs) between goods and services traded between two countries to allow them better served in both markets. Sure this should result in NZ content on TV being cheaper – yes – but it should not count as “local” or Australian content at all.

    In another report networks investment to Aus content has been reducing – perhaps if they weren’t able to make content quotas with NZ stuff,…

  2. In another life I wrote a computer program that produced a Local Content report for a Radio station. There were 3 categories, Local Artist, Local Composition and Local Production with a formula to work out the points. Easy Peasy, much of the info was on the record label. Will it work for a TV show, local actors, local writers, local production?

  3. I wanted to say that I really like the photo. And when shows like NZ on a Plate and NZ from above air, I quite like them, as I like the history and geography. However collaborations between the two like 800 words are more reasonable to expect to count as local content. Perhaps a clause that only 5 or 10% of ‘local content’ is derived from NZ? I still think there should be more Aussie content outside of news and current affair.

  4. Whilst they are a bit of a loophole and far be it for me to be a defender of FTA TV networks I do think its a bit rich for Screen Producers Australia to complain about NZ content on Australian TV while presumably enjoying competitive labour/crew costs, food, wine, airfares and holidays that the Aus-NZ free trade agreement enables.

    Seems to be a case of all in favour of free trade please proudly stand up, but when it comes to your own hip pocket all of a sudden everyone is a protectionist!

    Lets face it – shows like NZ on a Plate or NZ Highway Patrol are just as much of a grudge purchase for TV networks as the myriad of product placement holiday 4WD camping/boating/fishing shows that they would be replacing them with.

    • It also doesn’t help that things like Motorway Patrol & Border Patrol NZ are much more pleasant shows than the local equivalents.

      There’s a distinct “laugh at the bogans / chase the bad guys / how dare those sneaky crims & foreigners try that in _Australia_!” mean streak that runs through the local versions, whereas the NZ shows usually at least try to get a bit of amused empathy going.

      Maybe if the local networks & producers of such shows didn’t go out of their way to feed this country’s nasty streak it’d be a better place (& I’d have a bit more empathy for them too!)?

  5. It’s a rort by TV stations to artificially inflate their local content figures. Summer silly season is the worst time. Things like Motorway Patrol and the NZ Customs show are dross and seem to be used as ballast to keep the stations on air in between cricket and tennis telecasts.

    • Yep… have been making this point for a decade. Under the radar Aus movies also prop up content at this time of year. Sometimes squeezed out at 9:30 Saturdays in December, the last dregs of quota value.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.