ADG CEO Kingston Anderson. 

The Australian Directors’ Guild has implored the Federal Government not to dismantle the current local content quotas without having a viable alternative in place.

Without a content requirement on all broadcasters, including free-to-air, cable, VOD and streaming services, there will be “no guarantee for the Australian public of a significant (at least 50 per cent) Australian content and sub-quotas in drama, children’s and documentary,” the ADG has told the Australian and Children’s Screen Content Review.

In a joint submission with the Australian Screen Directors Authorship Collecting Society (ASDACS), the ADG calls for a platform-neutral Australian Content Guarantee which would apply to content on all screens that reach Australian consumers.

It suggests a range of options be provided to content distributors, including the ABC, SBS and streaming platforms, in the form of a quota, spend or minimum hours of first-run Australian drama, children’s and documentary.

The government should increase funding to the public broadcasters tied to these sub quotas, it says.

The ADG is alarmed at the submission by Free TV Australia which advocates scrapping the children’s quotas; giving networks points for screening dramas or miniseries after have been broadcast on pay TV; and enabling Seven Productions and other in-house productions to be eligible for the Producer Offset.

“If the free-to-air broadcasters get their way there will be no children’s content and less Australian dramas and documentaries, and more production would go in-house,” ADG CEO Kingston Anderson tells IF.

The ADG intends to press its case in Canberra on October 18 at a meeting the Parliamentary Friends of the Screen Industry, a group of 25 MPs jointly chaired by the Liberal National Party’s David Littleproud  and Labor Senator Catryna Bilyk.

A high-level delegation of directors, writers and actors will meet with the politicians.

The ADG/ASDACS submission endorses the Australian Children’s Television Foundation’s proposals to maintain the commercial broadcasters’ C children’s drama quota of 32 hours a year and for a P drama quota of 16 hours a year in place of the current 130 hours.

The ABC should be obliged to screen at least 64 hours of new Australian children’s drama each year, of which at least half would be live action.

In common with SPA and Free TV Australia, the submission calls for the harmonising of the film and TV offsets at 40 per cent.

The ADG restates its plea to the government to commit an additional $150 million over three years to Screen Australia, tied to TV drama, children’s and documentary, and not allocated to any broadcasters or content distributors.

The submission makes the point that half of the AFG’s members earn less than $25,000 a year, although most have worked in the industry for more than 10 years,

“Many Australian directors are forced to work overseas with the flow-on impact of less productions, less mentoring and less jobs in Australia – all necessary for a fully functioning creative ecosystem in film and television,” it says.

In that light the ADG repeats its long-standing push to change the Copyright Act to enable directors to share in the copyright in films and TV productions with producers, aligned with the UK copyright regime.

The ADG also recommends:

  • The Broadcast Services Act be reviewed and amended to reflect the current broadcasting environment.
  • The Australian Communications and Media Authority be charged with this review.
  • The definition of broadcasting be amended to ensure a platform-neutral approach to government regulation.
  • An Australian/New Zealand program should only qualify for content points in one territory, not both.

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