Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffiths in 'Total Control'.

ABC commissions contributed $744 million to the Australian economy and supported more than 8,300 jobs in the three years to 2020, new research has found.

The broadcaster engaged Deloitte Access Economics to examine the financial and societal impact of its internal and externally commissioned productions, as well as their influence on Australian culture, the development of the local production sector, and the country’s global standing.

The report covers the genres of arts, children’s, documentaries, drama, comedy, Indigenous and entertainment.

According to the data, the ABC ordered 433 screen productions from 2017-18 to 2019-20, of which 177 were internal productions and 256 externally commissioned productions.

Just under $765 million was spent on productions during that period, with annual costs rising from $284.6 million in 2017-18 to $297.1 million in 2018-19, before dropping down to $183.3 million in 2019-20, a decrease that has been attributed to industry disruptions caused by COVID, as well as the additional investments that were made in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Deloitte also found that every dollar spent by the ABC on external commissions generated $1.11 from other funding bodies.

Deloitte Access Economics partner and lead report author John O’Mahony said they were important economic dynamics to consider as Australia looks for new sources of growth.

“The ABC’s investments not only support jobs directly, they leverage other funding sources, create jobs in screen businesses and indirectly support jobs in the broader economy.”

Outside of the financial contribution of the commissions, the research also singled programs such as Mystery Road, Total Control, Rosehaven, Love on the Spectrum, Bluey, and Back in Time for Dinner as delivering social and cultural benefits by contributing to a sense of national identity, promoting social inclusion and discovering and developing new Australian creative talent.

ABC managing director David Anderson said the report was a timely reminder of the ABC’s “crucial role” in supporting Australian economic activity, jobs, and culture.

“While almost half the nation watches programs on ABC TV and ABC iview each week, this report quantifies for the first time the substantial economic benefits of those screen productions, as well as outlining the important social and cultural impacts.

“As the report finds, ABC screen commissions boost the Australian economy by hundreds of millions of dollars and support thousands of jobs across many sectors and locations, around the country.

“We’re proud to back more homegrown content than any other broadcaster, and to provide content and services that build the economy and bring Australian stories to all Australians, now and in the years to come.”

The report comes after the release of the Screen Australia Drama Report on Tuesday, which showed the ABC invested $42 million in Australian drama – up 22 per cent on 2019/20 – on 17 titles that commenced production in 2020-21.

The ABC also financed six of the seven children’s titles that entered production in 2020/21, including Bluey (season 3), The Strange Chores (season 2), Born to Spy, Hardball (season 2), Itch (season 2) and MaxeriX.

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