Networks come out swinging following Bryan Brown Address

Networks warn the Government needs to carefully consider the impact Streaming quotas will have on Free to Air audiences and seeks a balanced approach.

Free TV Australia has come out swinging today following Bryan Brown’s address at the National Press Club yesterday where he called for 20% of revenue to be invested in local production on Streaming platforms.

It is calling for a balanced approach to local content regulation.

Yesterday Brown said, of Streaming revenue, “We need some of that revenue put back into Australian stories. And I mean Australian stories. Not stories filmed in Australia with American accents. That’s a cultural death. We’ve been there.

“Canada and France have legislated that revenue taken from their countries must go into local production. In France it’s over 25%.

“A 20% reinvestment obligation in Australia, complemented by strong and sound IP arrangements will help secure the future of our industry and keep it vibrant.

“The Streaming companies will fight hard to not legislate, they are a business, and we must fight just as hard, because this is for our culture.”

Bridget Fair, CEO of Free TV Australia said, “We agree that Australians love Australian stories, which is why we invest $1.5 billion every year in Australian content. But if the Government is going to impose content quotas on streaming services, it needs to carefully consider the impact this will have on the Australian public who rely on free services from our local broadcasters.”

The question of why Free to Air networks would worry over local quotas on Streaming is an obvious one, but networks are nervous that an increase in local production will drive up the costs, with shortages of crews already a huge factor, as well as potentially seeing some of the best scripts secured by multinational corporates with deep pockets.

“The Australian screen sector is booming. With independent data from Screen Australia and the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing that there is more production in this country right now than ever before, the Government needs to be very clear on what problem it is trying to solve.

“Simply adding fuel to an already raging fire of cost escalation in the production sector will have a significant impact on the ability of Australian broadcasters to continue to deliver the Australian programming that our community relies on.

Recently released ABS figures show that over the past 5 years:
-There has been a 60% increase in production businesses created and an 83% increase in employment in the production sector – more than 12,000 jobs.
-Massive growth in production costs by over 130% – including a 143% increase in labour costs and a doubling of rent, leasing and hiring expenses.

“Ultimately it is Australian viewers who will miss out if the skyrocketing costs of production mean that only giant subscription services can afford to buy high quality local content and Australians are forced to pay to watch it.”

While a Roy Morgan report commissioned found 81% of Australians want to see more Australian made TV, recent research by Seven West Media suggests that 91% of Australians would not be willing to pay more for Australian content.

“Free TV broadcasters produce 25,000 hours of Australian content every year delivering trusted news, live and free sport, Australian drama and entertainment and coverage of national disasters and breaking news,” said Ms. Fair.

“And we provide this content free, to all Australians. 92% of Australians watch commercial television every month. With cost-of-living pressures mounting and growing concerns around the role of social media and digital platforms in our community, we need a strong local media sector more than ever.”

7 Responses

  1. So Bryan Brown wants to penalise streaming services – who invest big money in US overseas productions filmed in Australia.

    Keep that attitude up and the streamers will move their work to another country, who will be grateful for all the extra work they’ll be getting.

    Double standards – He was also happy to do “stories filmed in USA with an Australian accent”.

    1. I don’t see how that’s double standards. Those shows were fully funded by USA (and predominantly in a broadcast era). He’s talking about revenue from Australian subscribers being driven back into Australian storytelling, so your analogy is not quite fair.

  2. Streaming is a competitive global business with high costs and low margins. They make big budget spectacles to get people watching but 75% of viewing is old syndicated shows. Many of their new productions are sequels, prequels, reboots, remakes or spin-offs. They make shows where ever they extract the highest subsidies and tax concessions. And they won’t tell anyone how many viewers they have, let alone provide demographic breakdowns so their success can never be measured. Ideal circuses for Government to promise to the not masses.

  3. If there is a shortage of labour perhaps they should look at the training and skill development pipeline? Maybe get more school kids and apprentices etc on the job training and experience in the industry and increase supply that way so cost growth is more sustainable. Instead of just saying no the free to air industry should propose some workable solutions? I do think 20% of a businesses total Australian streaming revenue being forcibly spent on local drama or comedy sounds excessive at first glance.

  4. Perhaps Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Mel Gibson should be putting in 20% of their profit acquired through international markets. Getting streaming companies to pay for Australian shows is absurd to me. It’s like asking Apple to pay Telstra for using it!

  5. Dear FTA:
    Less reality TV, more scripted dramas / comedies etc.
    Someone who watches streaming more often than FTA because of this.

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