Industry groups link arms for local content

Leading industry guilds are pushing for all platforms to invest a percentage of revenue into new content.

The Australian Directors’ Guild (ADG), Screen Producers Australia (SPA), the Australian Writers’ Guild (AWG) and the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA), Australian Guild of Screen Composers (AGSC), have called for greater harmonisation and transparency of content quotas and investment incentives across all platforms.

They made a joint submission to the government’s ‘Supporting Australian Stories on Our Screens’ options review.

Under the scheme, all providers (Free to Air, Subscription TV, SVOD including Facebook Watch, YouTube Premium) would be required to put a minimum percentage of Australian-derived revenue back into new Australian scripted content and adopt sub-quotas for new drama, documentary and children’s programs annually.

Amongst their call for incentives was additional funding for public broadcasters ABC & SBS.

ADG President Samantha Lang said, “Producing Australian stories for our cinemas, and our home-screens gives all Australians the opportunity to see themselves reflected in screen narratives that are heroic, inspiring and joyful. Think of the immense success of a films like Lion and Sherpa or television series’ such as Mustangs FC or Total Control. These stories make us understand what it is to be Australian and give us a powerful sense of who we are as a nation.

“And significantly, producing Australia screen stories feeds into a much bigger ecosystem than the film and television industry itself – enhancing innovation, tourism and cultural diplomacy – whilst employing many thousands of people and generating several billions of dollars of investment each year.”

SPA CEO Matthew Deaner stated, “Not only do our screen stories promote a sense of identity, pride and social cohesion for everyday Australians, they also play an important role in our nation’s soft diplomacy and support hundreds of local small and medium businesses and thousands of creative workers. It is vital that we capitalise on this opportunity to get the policy settings right so that our industry can maximise its cultural and financial contribution to Australia’s economy – including its untapped export potential – as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic”.

MEAA Chief Executive Paul Murphy said, “Changes to audience viewing patterns, new technology and a hyper-competitive global market for screen production all mean that content obligations and production incentives need to be updated to secure the future of Australian storytelling on screen. The government must establish a forward-looking system which builds on the legacy of quality scripted content such as The Heights, Bluey and Mystery Road to support new and innovative Australian stories from a diverse range of storytellers available on each of the platforms that audiences tune into on a daily basis. Establishing such a system would also be a powerful show of support for the thousands of skilled writers, directors, cinematographers, hair and makeup artists, actors and other workers who have dedicated their lives to telling these stories on screen.”

AWG President, Shane Brennan, said the screen and television industry is at a critical crossroad in its history. “The Federal Government’s decision on how to fund and regulate the industry going forward is critical, not just to our future, but to our very survival. A decision that does not regulate new digital platforms, that does not maintain a fair and equitable quota system for scripted drama, documentaries and children’s programming will result in the long-term failure of our industry with no hope of recovery. With this decision, the Federal Government has the opportunity to secure jobs, grow an industry and make a powerful statement of commitment to our Australian culture.”

They also opposed “any proposal to extend the current suspension of sub-quotas into 2021.”

Signed by:
Australian Screen Editors
Association of Drama Agents
NSW Australian Screen Sound Guild
Australian Casting Guild
Australian Writers’ Guild
Australian Cinematographers Society
Australian Writers’ Guild
Authorship Collecting Society
Australian Directors’ Guild
Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Australian Drama Agents’ Association
Screen Producers Australia
Australian Guild of Screen Composers
Australian Screen Directors
Authorship Collecting Society
Visual Effects Society
Australian Production Design Guild
Women in Film and Television Australia


  1. The ABC, SBS, Free TV, Netflix, SPA, Australian Children’s Television Foundation and Arenamedia (and other independent producers) have all put in submissions saying they should get more money and less regulation, while others should get less money and more regulation.

    The ABC position is that it is essential that commercial FTA, which are independent business investing shareholder capital, should be made to produce more Australian Drama, while they a taxpayer funded, Government owned corporation shouldn’t be forced to spend anything on local drama (and not on Federal Politics Coverage) leaving producers, arts funding bodies and taxpayers through massive subsidies to producers to fund their drama. And want subsidies to producers increased for its other core content like science, religions and childrens TV too.

    Free TV’s position is keep the 55% local content quota and let…

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