The Australian Film Commission's (AFC) Chief Executive, Kim Dalton, today described the broadcast of local content as an essential role of the Australian television system, which underpinned the health of the Australian screen production industry.
Dalton was speaking at The Changing Standards for Australian Content on TV seminar, co-hosted by the AFC, Network Insight and Allens Arthur Robinson, which coincided with a review by the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) of the Australian Content Standard.
Dalton outlined three fundamental rationales for the Australian Content Standard: the cultural imperative, the capacity of broadcasters to pay for the outcomes of the Standard, and the industry development implications.
Dalton stated that it was no longer appropriate for the ABA, as the Government's legislated regulator, to regard the development of the production industry as a subsidiary policy goal or outcome of the Australian Content Standard.
"In the AFC's opinion there are few, if any, policy issues of more significance to the film and television industry than Australian content. Television is central to our industry in every respect - economic, cultural, employment, creative development and creative output," Dalton said.
"The importance of content regulation to the development of the screen production industry cannot be overestimated. It not only creates the opportunities for production, the development of skills and the support of infrastructure, it also creates a growing and increasingly strong domestic television market.
"And, at a time when the Federal Government has recognised the international competitiveness of the Australian film industry and its growth potential in regard to foreign production, it would be a very selective and blinkered policy approach on the part of broadcasters and the Australian Broadcasting Authority to ignore the relationship local television production has to the development and underpinning of Australia's capacity to service this production."
Dalton argued that, in a society where television is the most significant form of cultural activity, it was appropriate that our broadcasting system be designed to deliver a diverse range of entertainment, education and information.
"Television is more than a purely economic activity and has a significant impact on the development of an Australian identity, character and culture. It is an essential public interest obligation of privately owned television in return for continued spectrum access and protection from competition."
Dalton was joined on the discussion panel by, among others: Andy McIntyre, General Manager, Program Finance and Development, Network Ten; Ian McGill, Partner, Allens Arthur Robinson; Bob Donoghue, Chief Executive, Premium Movie Partnership; Sharon Connolly, Chief Executive, Film Australia; Jonathan Shiff, Executive Producer, Jonathan M Shiff Productions; Joanne Yates, Executive Director of the Screen Producers Association of Australia; Maureen Barron, General Manager, Corporate, Southern Star Group; Ian Robertson, Member of the ABA and Partner, Holding Redlich; Judi Stack, Chairman of the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations.
Review of the Australian content standard submission to the Australian broadcasting Authority