Networks still drawing on NZ content as producers await “loophole” closure

Updated: Producers are not happy some networks are still drawing using NZ content to meet local quotas.

Producers are again calling on the government to shut a loophole which allows networks to pass off New Zealand content as Australian.

It follows data from the Australian Communications and Media Authority which found in 2017 networks played plenty of NZ content.

TEN: 65.78 hours
Nine: 56.84 hours

Under the Australia-NZ Economic Trade Agreement, NZ titles continue to be qualify as “local content.”

TEN acquisitions included Being Me: Sam, Forensics, Coverband and The Barefoot Bandits.

Nine drew upon NZ dramas including Step Dave, The Brokenwood Mysteries, Westside and Filthy Rich.

Updated: Seven screened 290 hours in factual titles across its channels including Border Patrol, Motorway Patrol, SCU: Serious Crash Unit, Nabbed and NZ on a Plate. A Seven source maintains Seven hit all its local Australian quota in factual content.

But Matthew Deaner, CEO of Screen Producers Australia, has called on commercial broadcasters to do the right thing when it came to local content compliance.

“To be honest, I’m disappointed, but not surprised; the trend to undermine the system continues. In 2017, over a dozen regional broadcasters didn’t meet their local content obligations. New Zealand content accounted for 25 per cent of Nine Network’s drama, 25 per cent of the TEN Network’s documentaries and the Seven Network broadcast 290 hours of New Zealand content. This makes a mockery of our local content system to the detriment of Australian audiences, Australian producers and the many thousands of Australian workers in the screen industry,” he said.

Late last year a House of Representatives committee proposed a solution to the New Zealand content loophole.

“We await the Government’s response to that report. But we need timely action because the current situation is farcical and if trends continue, it will become unsustainable for the industry. If there is no change, the Australian government will have a better system for New Zealand producers than the New Zealand government.”

Deaner also noted the broader context of the timing of the content compliance results.

“These results come at a time when commercial broadcasters have been handed hundreds of millions in broadcast licence fee reductions, called on the Government to launch a series of measures aimed at strengthening their competitive position to the detriment of all others in the supply chain and the market. Elsewhere, $140 million has been found for international productions and $84 million has been cut from the ABC. Most gallingly, the commercial broadcasters want their children’s obligations removed. Collectively, they spent $6.7 million on children’s drama in 2016-17. SPA stands ready to work with the commercial broadcasters on a mutually acceptable solution to children’s television, but the broadcasters must come to the table.”

6 Responses

  1. What is the other alternative, more reality shows. If seven replays House Rules any more times “Across the channels of Seven” we will be worn out. Twice a day on weekdays plus Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Yeah… local content. The other channels are just as bad with their reality shows. Don’t get me started with the morning show.
    We were told that the additional digital channels were going to open up a whole new world to us….bulldust. Re-runs and old shows. I got rid of Foxtel to save money with all the re-runs…how can I get rid of the free to air channels to save money.
    For me TV has hit an all time low!
    I really held out hope for Channel 10 after the take over but sadly nothing has changed.

  2. According to stats.govt.nz their actual local content 6pm – 10pm is 31%, however Drama is only 5.5%. (2016) Aussie content does not count.
    “‘Local content’ is material made in New Zealand that reflects New Zealand identity and culture.”
    If we adopted the spirit of the NZ definition of Local Content then some NZ shows may not be shown here. I don’t believe that change would be an impediment to “Free Trade”.

  3. The decision to include Television in the Trans-Tasman trade agreement was not a loophole. It was pushed by NZ, considered carefully by DFAT and a proved by the Parliament and its now binding Constitutional Law. As such when the rent-seeking SPA tried to challenge it in Federal Court they lost. And NZ stated that any attempt to renegotiate the deal (the SPA’s second attempt) would be rejected and if it wasn’t honoured they would retaliate in kind against Australia. The proposal that the SPA has lobbied the committee to put in the report, which the SPA publicly called a loophole solely designed to thwart the Treaty and Federal Court ruling, is the actual loophole. So good luck in the Federal Court (whom they’ve publicly trashed and given the finger too) challenge that will me launched if Parliament ever passes the loophole (which the current Government won’t touch with a ten-foot…

  4. Assuming the quota works the other way as well, don’t Australian productions also make money from international sales to NZ broadcasters? A change to the rules could see that dry up, which would also harm Australian production.

    As for the NZ content acquired, Seven commissioned factual series like Highway Patrol and Coastwatch Oz after successfully screening the Kiwi versions. It may be an imbalance overall, but it’s not all bad for the Aussie sector.

  5. Has SPA noticed when a lot of this NZ content actually goes to air? I know for instance that all four of the programs mentioned for Nine usually air between about midnight and 3am. And Seven typically run more of their NZ titles in the summer non-ratings period. Perhaps less so this summer with cricket and tennis to accommodate!

    He mentions how Seven aired 290 hours of NZ content, that’s still less than an hour a day.

    If they’re suggesting that the networks should commission new content for non-ratings and overnights then it’s laughable.

    Now that I think of it, given our programs are also covered under the FTA, do networks in NZ run Australian programming in a similar way?

    1. If NZ get the same deal they are laughing! They even screen The Chase Australia weekdays. Also just factoring in Home & Away and Neighbours, we don’t have any NZ equivalent on FTA – Shortland Street is terrible and not shown here. Surely NZ have a very different quota for locally made shows required.

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