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Government abandons plan to allow Foxtel to reduce spending on Australian Drama

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A Federal Government proposal which would have allowed Foxtel to reduce its spending on Australian drama content has been dropped after a Senate committee today voted against the proposal.

Foxtel had been seeking changes to the subscription TV drama content quota from the current level of 10% to 5%.

Foxtel currently spends around $24 million per year on Australian drama content, but the pay-tv broadcaster had been pushing for greater flexibility with its content funding.

Milly Alcock and Tim Minchin in Upright (image - Foxtel)
Milly Alcock and Tim Minchin in Upright (image – Foxtel)

The pay-tv broadcaster had proposed the change to the quota rules would have allowed it to spend less in local drama while increasing spending in genres such as lifestyle and reality content which it believed would have provided a better return for its investment.

Foxtel is competing against a range of international streaming services which currently have no requirement to invest in Australian content

Today’s decision to drop the legislation change was welcomed by Screen Producers Australia (SPA) with the organisations CEO Matthew Deaner stating:

“We think it’s right that any further cuts to Australian content rules on traditional media are held back until we understand what rules will apply to services like Netflix, Stan, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video.” 

A spokesperson for Foxtel acknowledged the decision today telling TV Blackbox;

“We understand the Committee’s view that reforms to Foxtel’s drama obligation are better dealt with as part of a holistic approach to reform.

While there is much to do, we believed the Government’s Australian Screen Content Package announced last September recognised a broad range of needs.

In addition to the proposed reduction in the subscription television drama obligation, the screen sector received an additional $53 million in funding and improvements to the Producer Offset, while free to air television also benefitted from simplified Australian content rules.

As the Government and the Committee has identified, there remains an urgent need to have a more level playing field for local subscription television.

Our view is these historical drama obligations have the effect of favouring new global streaming giants ahead of local players, and they distort investment in Australian stories away from genres that our subscribers want to watch.

Screen Producers Australia has put forward a submission to the Government’s Media Reform Green Paper proposing that streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime be required to spend 20% of locally sourced revenues on commissioning new Australian content, with minimum requirements to protect drama, documentary and children’s content.

“The rules we are proposing will safeguard a bright future for Australian content on streaming platforms and are proportionate to the popularity and financial success of the streaming platforms,” said Deaner.

“We continue to work closely with Government and other key stakeholders on these important matters.”

Kevin Perryhttps://tvblackbox.com.au/author-kevin-perry/
Co-Creator and Editor of the TV Blackbox website, Kevin Perry is an experienced media commentator focused on TV Production, Consumer Tech, SVOD & Sports Broadcasting. Media enquiries please Call or Text 0428-275-111
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