Australia to set local content quotas for global streamers

Last King Of The Cross

Australia is set to become the latest country to introduce local content quotas for international streamers such as Disney+, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Legislation will be introduced in Q3 and will form part of the Aussie government’s Revive National Cultural Policy, a five-year scheme unveiled today that aims to inject growth into the country’s arts industry and provide more opportunities for First Nations.

Plans for a quota system first emerged in 2020 and while specifics have not yet been revealed, they are expected to be around 20% of local revenues and to be operational by July 2024.

Trade body Screen Producers Australia (SPA) has previously pushed for 20% of local revenues to be invested in local content, similar to quotas introduced in France and Italy.

Numerous countries such as Canada also plan to introduce local spending requirements, although others have delayed decisions after Denmark saw its plans for a streamer levy, in addition to a broader creative dispute, cause a year-long impasse costing around $200m.

Spending splurge

Reports have suggested Aussie quotas could mean international streamers will inject a further A$170m ($120m) into content from the country, taking the total to around A$500m. Spending in 2021/22 stood at A$330m, while the Aussie SVOD market as a whole is valued at A$2.4bn.

Streamers have been ramping up investment in Australian drama over recent years, with Disney+ last year unveiling plans for nine originals, including Matilda’s: The World At Our Feet and thriller The Clearing, while Paramount+ is behind Last King Of The Cross.

A definition of what will be counted as ‘Australian content’ remains unclear, however. The point was highlighted by SPA’s Matthew Deaner, who admitted that “getting this right is no simple matter.”

He continued: “There’s a world of cultural difference between Pirates Of The Caribbean [which was filmed in Queensland] and The Drover’s Wife, both of which were supported by Australian taxpayers.”

Deaner welcomed the broader proposals, however, adding: “If done right, this will not only secure our industry but also mark the start of a cultural resurgence in bringing Australian screen stories to audiences here and abroad. That is an incredible legacy to build for the nation.”

The SPA added that IP should “revert to the creator after a fixed period of three years” to protect against “the loss of valuable Australian cultural rights overseas.”

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