Federal Government extends Offsets to streamers

Stan’s ‘Bloom’.

The Federal Government today confirmed that Australian shows commissioned by Netflix, Stan and other streaming services and produced in Australia will qualify immediately for the Post, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) and Location Offsets.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield told The Australian the changes would “ensure our industry is able to capitalise on more opportunities and will attract further inbound investment in Australian screen production.”

There was no follow-up announcement today because Scott Morrison this morning called an election on May 18 so the government went into caretaker mode at 8.29 am.

The screen industry might have assumed the extension would not implemented but a spokesperson for Fifield tells IF that as the decision was made yesterday, the measure took effect today.

Fifield told The Oz: “Large-budget productions strengthen Australia’s capacity to produce high-quality stories for Australian and international audiences by providing skills development and training opportunities that go significantly beyond what can be achieved on smaller-budget productions.”

The federal budget was roundly criticised for offering zero extra support for the screen sector over the next three years apart from modest increases in funding for ABC News and for SBS programming.

The industry was particularly vexed that the government ignored pleas to impose local content obligations on Netflix, Stan and other SVOD platforms.

As Screen Producers Australia CEO Matt Deaner observed after the budget: “With every indecision and inaction, our screen sector is at great risk of becoming less and less globally competitive in the absence of regulatory reform to capture the booming international SVOD market, competitive tax offsets and returning funding cuts to Screen Australia and our public broadcasters.”

Extending the 30 per cent PDV Offset and the 16.5 per cent Location Offset may well encourage Stan, whose latest commission is The Gloaming, the eight-part drama from Sweet Potato Films’ Vicki Madden and 2 Jons, and Netflix to invest more in Australian content. The Offsets are mutually exclusive so can’t be used for the same production.

Labor blasted the government for appointing numerous people, including former Liberal politicians, to agency boards and committees in the past couple of weeks.

Fifield was as active in this area as any other minister. Yesterday he announced Ian Booth and Dr Michael Carr-Gregg would represent the Commonwealth on the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF) board for three year terms.

No one would quibble with either appointment as Booth is a former CEO of Screenwest and a documentary and drama producer. Carr-Gregg is a prominent child and adolescent psychologist and has published 14 books on parenting.

On the same day Fifield announced Ewen Jones would join the board of the National Film and Sound Archive for three years. His qualifications for the position are not obvious given his background in finance and real estate sales. Oh, and he was the Liberal National Party member for the Queensland set of Herbert from 2010 to 2016.