Changes that introduce content quotas to streaming services should not be a wrecking ball to current obligations to Local and Children’s Content, says the union for performers & screen workers.
The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance has been campaigning for updates to content rules as part of the Make It Australian coalition.
But comments by Communications Minister Paul Fletcher that the government is looking at new content regulations for streaming services should not be a trade-off to release commercial broadcasters from their obligations, it says.
“Changes in viewing habits mean there must be reform of content rules to ensure that Australian stories are shown on global streaming services that want access to Australian audiences,” said MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy.
“There needs to be a level playing field regardless of the platform that audiences view programs on.
“But that should not release free to air television from its own requirements to produce local and children’s content.”
MEAA also called for appropriate consultation on proposed changes.
“Changes to content rules have the potential to have huge impact on the creatives, performers, technicians and businesses who make up the Australian screen production industry.
“The government needs to make sure any proposed changes won’t be a wrecking ball to an important industry that is in many ways Australia’s voice to the world.”
Meanwhile Screen Producers Australia CEO Matthew Deaner also welcomed the opportunity to work to evolve existing obligations but not at the expense of local content.
“Overall, we agree with the Minister’s statements that current Australian regulations must be updated. This is not a time to (literally) throw the baby out with the bathwater. We must adapt a system that has served all Australian’s including children and parents well for many years and ensure that Australian’s can access quality, age appropriate content from trusted media brands,” he said.
“As I stated last week, a removal of quotas in response to pressure from commercial free-to-air broadcasters will have catastrophic effects on the small Australian businesses and thousands of workers across the nation whose livelihoods rely on an ongoing relationships with these important businesses.
“Inaction is also not an option. Since 2012’s Convergence Review, we have had another Government review and two additional parliamentary inquiries all pointing pathways to sensible reform and investment to ensure our sector’s future. Transparency and certainty are required now so that the industry has the time and capability to consider, respond and adapt to any changes all the while continuing to keep its talented work force employed while developing and producing quality content for Australian children and the international marketplace.”