No, Minister: SPA responds to Fletcher over streaming quotas

Screen Producers Australia says "we can do better" than a govt. proposal for voluntary reporting of local content on SVODs.

Screen Producers Australia has defended its position on government streaming proposals, after Communications Minister Paul Fletcher responded to their call for 20% local content on SVODs.

Minister Fletcher maintains the government’s proposal of voluntary reporting of 5% of revenue from streaming giants such as Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video and Apple TV+ had worked and would now be formalised.

“We think transparency is very important. We do live in a world that has more opportunities than was the case 30 years ago when essentially the production sector was largely about Australian broadcast TV and some movies getting into cinemas,” he told IF .

“There are now many more options and we want a regulatory framework which encourages, boosts, and supports the Australian production sector.”

But while the Minister advocated the proposed scheme as being sufficient SPA insists “we can do far better than that.”

It argued the sector, which is made up of a significant number of Australian small businesses needs a robust plan for industry growth.

“Other territories that have qualities that are comparable to the Australian market and industry have already placed clear, certain and much higher requirements on these streaming services. Australia’s proposed scheme would amount to less than 0.3% of these global businesses’ content spend on Australian content,” SPA said in a statement.

“This simply does not deliver the Australian content that we know audiences both here and elsewhere want.

“The weakness of the scheme is demonstrated by the possibility of a small 5% obligation – quite possibly less – to local content from an undetermined set of businesses. Any way one looks at it – SPA believes that this will be a framework that sees the Australian screen industry go backwards and create less than what is currently being delivered.”

SPA argued the screen industry needs a balanced regulatory system for the good times and the bad – not a scheme that is essentially self-regulation, and that provides no certainty in a high-risk sector.

“On the issue of Ministerial discretion, SPA and its members reject the characterisation of this as just business as usual. Regulatory decision-making should be through a commonly understood framework that is transparent and offers consistent, predictable and positive outcomes and is characterised by arm’s length decision-making and Parliamentary scrutiny. Anything else makes regulation more subjective and uncertain,” the statement continued.

“There are clear examples of frameworks in comparable countries for streaming services that are predictable and robust and that support local industry, that Australia should be modelling. Anything less exposes our industry to incredible ongoing uncertainty, on which other markets will capitalise.

“Through this consultation process, SPA is advocating for fair investment safeguards so that Australian stories on our screens aren’t just at the whim of global business decisions, but are anchored in clear and certain regulation that delivers what Australian audiences want.”

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