ADG and AWG back call for streamers to face 20 per cent local content requirement

The Australian Directors’ Guild (ADG) and Australian Writers’ Guild (AWG) have joined Screen Producers Australia (SPA) in proposing that SVOD/AVOD services be required to spend 20 per cent of their Australian revenue on local content in their submissions to the Federal Government’s media reform green paper.

But they have stopped short of supporting local content obligations for the ABC and SBS, choosing instead to call for increased funding towards the public broadcasters.

In their respective submissions, the organisations highlight the need for services with 500,000 subscribers and $50 million in annual Australian revenue to be required to re-invest 20 per cent of that gross revenue towards local commissions, reflecting the genres of their non-Australian content.

Both guilds believe the quota system should be a combination of expenditure and hours, in order to avoid an entity meeting its obligations by producing single large budget productions, and argue against the exemption of services such as Stan or Binge.

As with SPA, with whom they collaborated on the Make it Australian campaign, the guilds want the regulation of SVODs and AVODs to commence on January 1, 2022.

However, the ADG was less definitive with regards to potential content obligations for the ABC and SBS, saying it would need to see the data from the proposed enhanced National Broadcasters Reporting Regime in order to “form an accurate view” on whether the Australian content being produced from the broadcasters was “appropriate”.

Its submission went on to state that it was “highly likely” that increased funding was needed for both public broadcasters to ensure “stability and growth” in commissioned Australian content.

In its submission, the AWG “strongly recommended” an increase in direct funding to the ABC and SBS, which would be “specifically tied” to new Australian scripted drama, children’s content, and documentary.

The AWG noted that the public broadcasters had been left with the “sole responsibility” of programming vulnerable genres such as children’s television for local audiences.

Both submissions referenced the proposed Create Australian Screen Trust (CAST), with the AWG calling on the government to ensure that key creatives – such as writers and directors – have a say in the distribution of the fund. The ADG said it would support the fund, provided there was no subsequent reduction in direct assistance through screen agencies.

See the full AWG submission here and the full ADG submission here.