Government calls on production sector to comment on ‘documentary’ definition

The production sector has been invited to comment on a new draft legislation by the Federal Government that will affect the sector’s tax rebate, the producer offset.

The Department of the Treasury has released the exposure draft that would introduce a refined definition of the term ‘documentary’ to give clarity to production houses expecting to be eligible for tax rebate, set at 20% for documentaries.

The move to define the word ‘documentary’ came in early July, instigated by Minister of the Arts Simon Crean.

It was the result of a federal court hearing earlier this year following a dispute over the word’s definition between production house Essential Media and Entertainment in regard to its show Lush House and Screen Australia, administrator of the offset.

The Federal Court found in favour of Essential Media and Entertainment and allowed the 20% tax rebate to Lush House.

The new changes will align the government and Screen Australia’s definition with that of the Australian Communications and Media Authority fro the Australian Content Standard:

The draft legislation:

  • Defines documentary as a creative treatment of actuality other than an infotainment program, lifestyle program or magazine program; and
  • Requires that Screen Australia, the body administering the Producer Offset, consider the extent and purpose of any contrived situation featured in the film, the extent to which the film explores an idea or theme and the extent to which the film has an over-arching narrative structure, when determining whether the film is considered to be a documentary.

The legislation has also added ‘game show’ to the list of light entertainment programs excluded from eligibility for film tax offsets.

The chance to comment on the draft is open until January 30.


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