SPAA President: ‘Why am I cynical of foreign-owned TV networks’ allegiance to Australian content?’

Brian Rosen, the President of The Screen Producers Association of Australia has accused the commercial networks of not showing an allegiance to Australian content, in his opening speech at the SPAA Conference.

Rosen said: “Two of our three commercial free to air television networks are foreign-owned. Why am I cynical about their allegiance to Australian content? Why do I feel that given half the chance they would do away with Australian content if the cost of acquiring it affected their bottom line.”

His comment came off the back of also questioning the Government’s slow pace to implement the recommendations of the convergence review that would see an increase in Australian content across the Freeview channels.

“The Convergence Review was delivered in March this year and gave a straightforward path into the digital future – a future that strongly supported Australian content and enhanced our business models. here we are in November just months away from the 2013 digital switchover with no clear indication from Government as to how they might implement these recommendations.”

Rosen called upon the Government to act swiftly on the issues and hoped Minister Simon Crean’s Thursday morning address to the conference would recognise and address Rosen’s concern.

Rosen continued: “There are $40b being spent on building the NBN that allows content from all over the world to be readily available to Australians but you cannot afford to support putting Australian content into that pipeline – Surely of that $40b, a miserable $1b could be found to ensure that Australians can see themselves reflected on their screens with pride.”

Rosen did however congratulate the industry on a great year for Australian television drama, with audiences embracing local content ‘when made available to them’ as nine of the top ten rating dramas were local.

Reflecting on the big issues within the Australian screen content production landscape from the past year, Rosen also raised the debate of an increase of the 16.5% location offset to lure international productions to Australia so as to compete with the USA which in some states have incentives of 30% to 40%; the need to include video game production into the producer offset; and the definition of ‘documentary’ which was argued out in a Federal court case between Essential Media and Entertainment and Screen Australia over Essential’s factual series, Lush House.

Rosen did however congratulate the success of Indigenous screen content with the box office hit of The Sapphires and the small screen stories of Redfern Now which also helped create indigenous work in the sector.


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