Screen Producers Australia call for better policy

Screen Producers Australia call on government for better policy for the entertainment sector

•  Supports in principle of a reduction in spectrum licence fees
•  Wants an increase to the Producer Offset rate for television

Screen Producers Australia has called on Government, opposition and the minor parties to develop a holistic arts and communications screen policy ahead of the next election.

Screen Producers Australia has set out an ambitious range of policy reforms to ensure Australia’s independent production sector, which currently accounts for $1.7 billion worth of production activity annually, continues to grow, export and innovate. The reforms that Screen Producers Australia will be seeking bipartisan support for include:

•  Adjustment to tax incentives
Screen Producers Australia says that following cuts to Screen Australia, ABC and SBS in 2014, its members have concerns regarding the compound effects of additional cuts to Screen Australia in the 2015 Federal Budget.

Screen Producers Australia CEO Matthew Deaner said the organisation is advocating for an increase to the Producer Offset rate for television structured with safeguards to ensure the benefit of an increase remains with the small businesses that need this leverage the most. This will ensure international competitiveness and alleviate the impact of reduced screen subsidies.

Screen Producers Australia is also advocating for greater flexibility to be built into the Producer Offset legislation in regards to the theatrical release requirements of feature films; and for developing and retaining skills by maintaining a critical mass of production through incentives to attract off-shore (footloose) productions to Australia.

•  Adjustment to regulations
In response to increased pressure facing commercial free-to-air television, Screen Producers Australia is supportive in principle of a reduction in spectrum licence fees, but which it believes must assist with stimulating investment across a diverse range of Australian content on commercial free-to-air television and not simply facilitate sports arms race at the expense of drama, documentary and children’s programming.

Screen Producers Australia wants greater broadcasting transparency to enable more effective benchmarking of policy objectives and outcomes. Deaner said that the Broadcasting Financial Results published by Australian Media and Communications Authority as a good example of reporting obligations for the commercial sector should be replicated for public broadcasters.

The organisation is also calling for stronger oversight of commercial transactions between broadcasters and the independent production sector. Screen Producers Australia has maintained benchmark terms of trade with ABC since 2009.

Screen Producers Australia is seeking a redefinition of the term “first release” in the Australian Content Standard, by broadening the definition to reflect the concept of a worldwide premiere and not just a program’s initial screening in the licence area.  This will avoid the disappointing and alarming 2014 compliance results for metropolitan commercial free-to-air television licensees released by the Australian Media and Communications Authority which revealed that the Nine Network met 51 per cent of its drama obligation with the use of New Zealand programming.

Screen Producers Australia continues to advocate for immigration reform, in relation to temporary visas for international actors.

“We are looking to the Government’s review of temporary visas to deliver sensible reform that balances the needs of all parts of the screen industry and contribute to the continued growth of the sector to ensure greater employment not only for cast but also writers, directors, crew and producers,” Deaner said.

“Our industry is at a crossroads. We are amongst the most entrepreneurial, innovative and productive screen industries in the world. Many of our independent production companies are already succeeding in the international marketplace and, increasingly, the world is looking to us for new ideas and innovation. However, the industry is also in a period of rapid technological change and fragmentation. We therefore have to ensure that Government interventions, so important in underpinning the health of our sector and delivering cultural outcomes, are keeping pace with the new world environment in which we operate to both keep Australian production businesses expanding and innovating, and to guarantee that we can continue to create and present diverse, quality local content to Australian audiences,” Deaner said.

Full details about the Policy Agenda on the Screen Producers Australia website here.

Source: Screen Producers Australia

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