A coalition of Australian children’s television producers have released a joint statement urging a government review of recent policy changes that they believe will lead to business closures and thousands of job losses.
The changes, brought in by Australian communications minister Paul Fletcher, include plans to abolish the commercial free-to-air broadcasters’ children’s content quotas, which the statement says would leave pubcaster ABC as the only possible outlet for content. Furthermore, without broadcaster commissions, the producers would be unable to access the Producer Offset.
“In abolishing the Free To Air quotas for children’s content, with no corresponding legislation in place for the streamers or other adjustments, the Federal government has left the sector stranded,” reads the statement: “We producers must find the means to sustain our industry through a period of uncertainty around funding and regulation. This is despite a long consultation period between the industry and Government that was intended to avoid just this scenario.
“In the current conditions, these changes will leave only one readily available open door for producers, the ABC, which, with its significantly reduced funding for children’s content cannot commission new work for the next two years, leaving the independent production sector with nowhere to go.”
The statement is signed by numerous companies, including Ambience Entertainment, Beyond Productions, Cheeky Little Media, Kapow Pictures, Ludo Studio, Media World Pictures, Moody Street Kids, Pop Family Entertainment, Northern Pictures and Viskatoons.
It explains that: “Most Australian children’s productions are co-financed with international territories, but Australian producers are dependent on local broadcaster fees to trigger Tax Offset and other funding. Without the broadcaster commission, an Australian producer cannot access the Producer Offset. The Government’s changes announced last week effectively immediately removed those local commissions.
“The change will also impact on the production of programs through the Australian Government’s Co- Production Treaty arrangements, as the licence fees and broadcaster commissions were an essential element in producers reaching the minimum finance requirements of these Treaties. If we can’t bring that finance to the table, we can’t finance and produce Australian intellectual property at a viable volume for worldwide distribution.”
The coalition names numerous children’s shows, including The Deep, Bluey, Alien TV, The Bureau Of Magical Things, Grace Beside Me and Yakkity Yak that it says screen “across more than 180 territories throughout the world and attracting many millions of dollars in overseas production funding which supports Australian jobs and training,” adding. “No other screen sector in Australia can boast these success stories.”