0/5

Budget 2024 welcomed by screen industry

A wrap of what the Budget means for ABC, SBS, AFTRS, ACTF, ACMA and more.

Industry groups are welcoming announcements for the screen / arts sector in last night’s Budget, which are as follows:

ABC / SBS
National broadcasters ABC and SBS are set to receive a combined $1.7 billion for the 2024/25 financial year, with $1.196 billion going to the ABC – up from $1.137 billion last financial year – and $348 million going to SBS, up from $334 million. The remaining gap will be used on transmission and distribution technology.

The ABC’s staffing levels will stay at 4,313 staff – remaining steady. SBS staff numbers will lift slightly from 1,352 people to 1,369. The ABC is budgeting for an “operating deficit” of $1.9 million in 2024/25. SBS’ operating result for the same period is projected to be a $1.1 million surplus.

ACMA
Australian Communications and Media Authority has been allotted $181 million, down from $194 million last financial year. Of that, $12.4 million over four years will be used to improve existing scam call and SMS codes for telcos, and boost enforcement action to detect and prevent scams.

$22.6 million over five years from 2024–25 has been allotted to support the modernisation of media regulation in Australia, including the implementation of a prominence framework for internet-connected television devices and an expanded anti-siphoning scheme.

ACTF
$14.5 million across four years for the Australian Children’s Television Foundation to support the production of Australian children’s screen content, which has remained in a state of flux since the previous government relaxed the fixed local content quotas on free-to-air commercial networks in 2021.

NFSA
The government has also put aside $9.3 million to “expand and enhance” the National Film and Sound Archive’s capacity to store highly flammable nitrate-based cultural heritage material belonging to national collecting institutions. These historically significant films and photographic negatives are currently at risk of being lost.

AFTRS / NIDA
The Australian Film Television and Radio School will get $27.9 million, up from $24.2 million in the previous financial, and will be expected to earn more than last year in course fees and other sales, $10.3 million, up from $9.4 million last year. The total government allocation plus revenue target is $38 million. Staffing will decrease by 5 people to a head count of 145. $51.9 million for the National Institute of Dramatic Art.

Community Broadcasting
The CBF’s funding will increase over the forward years: $22,981m in 2025/26, $23,535m in 2026/27 and $24,053m in 2027/28.

Producer Offset
The government will also remove both the minimum length requirements for content and the above the line cap of 20% of total qualifying production expenditure for the producer offset. This changes estimated to increase payments by $0.4 million over three years from 20 25–26. (And $0.2m per year ongoing).

Screen Producers Australia statement:

Screen Producers Australia (SPA) welcomes last night’s Budget, which contains some great news for the Australian screen industry. SPA is particularly delighted about the announcement that the cap on ‘above the line’ costs for the Producer Offset is being abolished from 1 July 2024.

“This is terrific news for Australia’s screen producers and puts Australian screen stories on a more even playing field with international projects that are not subject to this cap,” said SPA CEO Matt Deaner.

“SPA worked hard to bring this matter to the attention of the Australian Government this year. After consultation with members on the overall screen incentives framework, SPA made several wide-ranging recommendations to the Government in our submission on the announced changes to the Location and Producer Offsets.

“In that submission, SPA strongly argued for the Australian Government to review the settings, cost and benefits of both the Location Offset and Producer Offset to ensure that home-grown Australian screen projects can more easily access taxpayer support and that the cap on Above the Line costs does not unduly disadvantage local projects.

“SPA recommended that the cap in the Producer Offset on ‘above the line’ costs be removed as an immediate step.

“The Budget announcement will provide a much-needed boost in confidence to Australian screen businesses focused on telling Australian stories. No longer will their budgets be held back while international projects are unconstrained.

“It is also welcome news that the minimum length requirements are also being removed from the Producer Offset. This measure, combined with the new funding of $14.5m to support the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF), is an important boost for Australia’s children’s screen producers.

“We are pleased that the ACTF can continue its important work in supporting new screen projects for our much neglected but vital child audiences.

“The important work of addressing capacity issues in the screen industry has also been recognised in the Budget with the $115.2 million announced for Australia’s eight national arts training organisations to ensure their continued operation to support the development of creative talent across screen, music, performing arts and dance.

“SPA congratulates the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), which will receive $51.9 million to enable it to continue to ensure Australia nurtures future generations of Australian storytellers.

“The Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) is a critical part of our industry ecosystem, and we are pleased it has received $23.2 million, which means it can continue to offer the number and range of courses offered to students.

“At a time of skills shortages and capacity issues across the creative industries, this investment supports a foundational element of our industry.

“Finally, preserving our screen heritage is vitally important, and the investment of $9.3 million to enable the National Film and Sound Archive capacity to store highly flammable nitrate-based cultural heritage material that was at risk of being lost is strongly welcomed.

“On behalf of Australia’s screen producers, I warmly welcome these new measures, which demonstrate that the Australian Government truly values and supports our creative industries.

“This critical investment is an important recognition of the contribution of screen businesses to Australia’s cultural life and future,” Mr Deaner said.

MEAA statement:

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance welcomes the federal government’s continued efforts in the 2023-24 Budget to revive Australia’s long-neglected arts, cultural and media sectors.

Overall for the cultural sector, the Budget was a steady one with few major funding announcements and no nasty surprises.

The highlight this year is a $115.2 million commitment for the Australia’s major arts training and educational institutions which includes the likes of NIDA and AFTRS.

“This funding is a much-needed investment in the next generation of performers and screen professionals,” said MEAA Chief Executive Erin Madeley.

“But this must be followed up with additional funding support quality jobs on graduation with secure employment, good pay and conditions and safe and inclusive workplaces.

“A viable creative sector cannot exist if the workforce does not have quality jobs that provide a sustainable career in the arts and entertainment”.

For Australia’s ailing music sector, the government has committed a one-off $8.6 million ‘Revive Live’ package to support live music venues and festivals that showcase Australian bands and artists. The Budget also announced $5.2 million to support the Canberra and Darwin Symphony Orchestras which includes a commitment of $1.3 million of ongoing funding per year to ensure the sustainability of these orchestras.

In welcoming the new funding, Ms Madely said MEAA would continue to advocate for more action to secure decent conditions and pay for all live music performers.

“In addition to providing much needed support to our orchestras, we call on the government to finally commit to a $250 minimum payment for musicians and performers who perform at government funded events”.

Australia’s screen industry is being supported by a commitment of $14.5 million over four years to the Australian Children’s Television Foundation to increase development and production of Australian children’s television content.

The Budget also flagged the government’s changes to the Producer Tax offset. The government intends to remove the minimum length requirements for content, and the above-the-line cap of 20%of total qualifying production expenditure.

The Australian Associated Press (AAP) will receive assistance with the government committing $12 million this year to help secure the viability of this important news-gathering organisation.

The ABC and SBS are set to receive minor funding boosts over the coming financial year. In October 2023 the government announced consultation on funding a new round of the News Media Assistance Program (NewsMAP). No new funding appears to have been made in the Budget, however MEAA awaits the government’s response to the consultations.

We note the government’s funding of a range of initiatives regarding regulation of AI to protect and strengthen consumer and copyright laws. MEAA welcomes this investment, and we look forward to engaging with the government to ensure that workers have a seat at the table as they develop their regulatory framework.

ACTF:

Bernadette O’Mahony, Acting CEO said: “Children are a unique audience, and deserve quality local content – stories that are made especially for them that reflect our culture, and their world and voices.

“This additional funding means the ACTF will be able to invest in even more brilliant Australian kids shows for all ages and across all the platforms that children are watching. There will be more groundbreaking projects like Windcatcher (Stan.), Eddie’s Lil’ Homies (NITV/Netflix) and Crazy Fun Park (ABC) – watched and loved by Australian children and their families, as well as audiences around the world.

“The ACTF is pleased to be able to continue to raise the bar for Australian children and provide them with the best stories, made especially for them.”

Source: Mediaweek, RadioInfo, IF

Leave a Reply