The Australian government has suspended Australian documentary, drama and children’s content quotas to focus on boosting news outlets struggling with COVID-19 economic impacts.
As it funnels an extra AU$54 million (US$34m) into Australian television broadcasters, radio and regional publishers, the Screen Producers Australia has released a statement that decries the country’s announcement to suspend the free-to-air and subscription television quotas for 2020.
The requirement for 55% Australian content overall remains.
SPA CEO Matthew Deaner stated the cuts could cripple the Australian production industry, and “at best snuff the opportunities for a rebound for much of our sector at a time when it is facing a very real battle for survival.”
Deaner called for a temporary averaging flexibility, instead of the hard content quota suspension. His suggestion would require broadcaster relief to be contingent on fulfilling obligations in the years ahead when productions are able to return, and would allow the sector to be robust, with large numbers of people employed.
He also added that some genres, like documentary and animation, could still be commissioned at this time. “Suspension of commissioning activity essentially knocks out demand for these productions, which would have been crucial in keeping people in jobs in the industry during the wider shut down.
“Coronavirus assistance for Australia’s broadcasters should not have to come at the expense of our production sector, which has been amongst the hardest hit by widespread shutdowns and which is in need of a comprehensive support package itself,” he said in the statement.
This statement follows on yesterday’s SPA call to implement an AU$1 billion screen content fund.