Commercial Free to Air networks have blasted a “last minute” move by the Government to offer production incentives to streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon, before the election.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield this week announced an extension of the Post, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) and Location Offsets for online platforms such as Stan, 10 All-Access, Netflix and Amazon Prime, to attract more investment in Australian screen production.
But Free TV CEO, Bridget Fair said: “This announcement is outrageous. It has been six years since the Coalition Government was elected. Free TV has consistently sought meaningful reform of content regulations that have been in place since the 1980’s. The Australian Content Review was conducted in 2017. After two years, Minister Fifield has seen fit to announce a single initiative five minutes before the commencement of the caretaker period that benefits foreign multinational streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
“Commercial television broadcasters are the source of more Australian production than anyone else in this country. The Government should be looking to how broadcasters can be assisted to continue the important role they play in the Australian production industry, not making piecemeal decisions that advantage unregulated competitors on digital platforms.”
But Debra Richards, CEO of locations marketing agency Ausfilmn welcomed the move.
“SVODS are also major players in content and distribution globally, so the Government’s decision to include SVOD television as an eligible platform to apply for the Location and PDV Offsets supports the Australian screen industry to increase opportunities for more work, more jobs, more training, more innovation and more growth of their business. Ausfilm is delighted with the Government’s announcement of this resolution to the existing Offsets,” she told the Hollywood Reporter.
The incentive also comes without any requirement to deliver meet local quotas, which is also required of Free to Air and Pay TV drama channels.
“It defies logic to prop up unregulated foreign streaming platforms with Government funding while commercial broadcasters remain saddled with a range of content obligations that no longer reflect how Australians are consuming content and are in urgent need of a complete overhaul,” said Bridget Fair.
“The Australian Content Review conducted in 2017 was supposed to look at how we should update these outdated regulatory settings. We are still waiting for the Government to provide a meaningful response.”