Screen Producers details poor decisions that have stripped $400m from sector

SPA has released the Screen Production Industry Policy Ledger

Matthew Deaner

Screen Producers Australia has released the Screen Production Industry Policy Ledger. This ledger sets out policy decisions since 2014 and by effect, their impact on the small businesses that drive the industry.

“This ledger sets out in stark relief the series of policy decisions made over the last three years that have negatively, or asymmetrically, affected the industry and in particular, the small businesses that drive it,” Screen Producers Australia CEO Matthew Deaner said.

“Negative decisions range from the series of egregious funding cuts to the ABC, SBS and Screen Australia that have pulled $400 million from the industry, to withdrawing regulatory oversight and auditing on local content obligations.

“The ledger also makes clear the other Government decisions that have had an asymmetrical impact on the industry. The Government decided to benefit certain businesses at one end of the value chain, such as the broadcasters with a series of broadcast licence fee refunds. These windfalls may boost broadcasters’ share prices, but not their commitment to local content, which has declined 20% for drama and documentaries over the past four years.

“The Government has also moved to benefit certain elements of the local industry, such as services sector and crew with nearly $70 million in funding for foreign films ThorAlien and Aquaman. This is welcome but the approach has not been certain or consistent or taken into account the entire production ecosystem and its ongoing sustainability.”

Deaner has also commented on the release of ABC data that shows TV content budgets declining.

“Comparing 12/13 to 15/16, the ABC’s total content budget is down nearly 9%, the children and drama budgets are down almost 20%. These shrinking budgets inform reductions in hours produced by the ABC over the four years for drama and children’s by approximately 20%, documentaries by 35% and narrative comedy by an alarming 55%. Most concerning is the significant fall in hours for factual production, down 85%.

“These sobering numbers show the Government’s cuts to the ABC are having an effect on the ABC and in turn, the independent production sector. The 2014 budget continues to bite. We see a peak in production, expenditure and hours in 13/14 and a steep decline following. The Government must recommit funding to the ABC.”

Read more and download the document here.

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