Nearly a year after the Morrison government announced a multi-million dollar deal to have Australian TV shows screening to Pacific island audiences, none have begun screening.
Last November Scott Morrison said, “I’ve been speaking to Free TV Australia and the commercial TV networks about how we get more of our Australian content into the region. Our Pacific family switching on to the same stories, news, drama and sports we are watching at home. What better way of staying connected than through the people, the lifestyle and the every-day experiences we are lucky enough to enjoy?”
Free TV, which represents Australian commercial channels, was tasked with negotiating 1,000 hours of titles with Pacific broadcasters.
The move was later questioned by some observers about whether ABC content would be a better fit than commercial titles.
Jemima Garrett, co-convenor of the Supporters of Australian Broadcasting in Asia and the Pacific, told SBS, “Reruns of Love Island or Border Security are not going to help Australia’s standing in the region in the same way that a more interesting project could.”
However Free TV is yet to begin discussions with Pacific stations, a Communications Department spokesperson has now revealed.
“Free TV will soon commence work to consult with Pacific broadcasters that will inform a selection of Australian content that is suitable for each Pacific broadcaster,” a spokesperson told SBS in a statement.
Free TV chief executive Bridget Fair said in a statement, “We are well advanced in planning for the Pacific TV project.
“We expect to commence providing content to our Pacific partners in 2020, but we are not in a position to provide further details of the project at this time.”