In the lead up to the 2019 election, the Make It Australian campaign wrote to the three main parties – Liberal, Labor and Greens – to seek their responses to specific questions about their support for the screen industry.
Here is an excerpt from their responses:
Do you support SVOD services operating in Australia having ongoing requirements to invest in and promote original Australian content?
Labor believes that all content services in the business of providing Australians with professional content, that meet certain scale and service criteria, should be contributing to the health and sustainability of our screen content sector by providing Australian content. This includes SVOD services. The precise requirements should be developed based on evidence and public consultation as part of the process under Labor’s Taskforce.
The SVOD market is still an emerging market in Australia. As part of their initial entry into the Australian market, SVOD services have acquired Australian back catalogue content and made various co-production deals to invest in new Australian programming. Any regulatory obligations placed on SVOD services must balance the viewing choices of Australian audiences with the SVOD industry’s continued growth and sustainability in Australia. This is an area that will be kept under review. The Morrison Government provides significant support to the Australian screen industry recognising the important role it plays in shaping our national identity. A viable domestic screen production sector is essential for audiences to have access to quality Australian content. The government recognises this through investment in the industry using a range of mechanisms, including tax rebates, direct funding and regulatory measures, designed to support the production of Australian content and promote the development of a sustainable production sector. The Government’s support mechanisms all combine to assist the Australian industry to create unique film, TV and online content that is extremely popular with audiences here and abroad. 2017-18 saw expenditure of $718 million on local productions, including feature films, television and online content, a record breaking year for expenditure on Australian projects.
The Greens have worked hard to protect and support Australian content. Senator Sarah Hanson-Young recently chaired the Senate inquiry into Australian content on broadcast, radio and streaming services. As part of this report The Australian Greens recommended that the Australian Government implement at least a 10 per cent expenditure, and a separate promotion, obligation on SVOD services operating in Australia.
Do you support maintaining children’s content obligations for commercial free-to-air TV?
Labor believes that a diversity of services should provide a diversity of Australian content, including children’s content on commercial free-to-air TV. These requirements should be examined as part of the evidence-based and consultative process under Labor’s Taskforce.
Content obligations require that minimum levels of children’s content are made available on broadcasting services. The Children’s Television Standards 2009 sets minimum quotas for certain format genres, including ‘P’ (preschool) and ‘C’ (children’s) programs. Any changes in this area would need to be made carefully and with industry consensus.
The Australian Greens strongly reject calls to reduce current content obligations. Children’s television contributes to the cognitive, emotional and creative development of children and young people. It is crucial that Australian children grow up with a strong sense of identity that reflects our culture and values.
Do you support maintaining the Australian content requirements for commercial free-to-air TV and/or subscription TV, including for adult drama and documentary programs?
Labor believes that a diversity of services should provide a diversity of Australian content, including adult drama and documentary programs and including for commercial free-to-air and/or subscription TV. These requirements should be examined as part of the evidence-based and consultative process under Labor’s Taskforce
One of the objectives of the Broadcasting Services Act is to promote the role of broadcasting services in developing and reflecting a sense of Australian identity, character, and cultural diversity. This role is promoted via programming quotas requiring minimum amount of content produced under the creative control of Australians to be broadcast. Any changes in this area would need to be made carefully and with industry consensus.
As mentioned above, the Australian Greens are strong supporters of Australian content and support the maintenance of current Australian content obligations for all broadcasters.