Government outlines schedule for SVOD content quotas but denies reaching 20 per cent figure

Arts Minister Tony Burke.

While the Federal Government will outline its plans for Australian content obligations on streaming services when it unveils its National Cultural Policy tomorrow, the office of Arts Minister Tony Burke has dismissed a media report of a 20 per cent revenue requirement as “totally speculative”.

However, a schedule for the measure has been decided upon, with the changes to be introduced later this year and the obligations to commence no later than July 1, 2024.

Burke will deliver tomorrow Labor’s blueprint for arts and culture sector policy for the next five years, following a submission process based on five key areas: First Nations first, a place for every story, the centrality of the artist, strong institutions, and reaching the audience.

On Sunday, News Corp reported that the policy would feature a measure that would require streaming giants such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Paramount+, and Apple TV+ to spend 20 per cent of their revenue on making local content, a requirement that Screen Producers Australia (SPA) and other industry guilds called for in their submissions.

According to the report, the obligation would led to $480 million of production, given that the streaming market’s estimated earnings exceeded $2.4 billion in 2021.

But a spokesman for the Arts Minister said the exact shape of the quotas is still to be decided upon, with the government to consult with streamers on the exact figure between now and when the changes are introduced later this year.

In a statement, Burke said the changes would be “good for Australian creators and good for Australian audiences”.

“The screen industry estimates that by extending content quotas to streaming platforms we could create 10,000 Australian jobs,” he said.

“That would be a great way to help our creators recover from the battering they’ve taken during the COVID crisis. It would also deliver a cultural dividend. Imagine the next Love My Way or Underbelly or Wentworth but backed with the dollars and production values of an Apple or an Amazon.”

In response to today’s media reports, SPA CEO Matthew Deaner said there was some “critical detail” to be negotiated between industry and government regarding the obligation, including what is counted as Australian content and whether that definition meets the objectives of the new Australian National Cultural Policy and public expectations.

“Getting this right is no simple matter,” he said.

“There’s a world of cultural difference between Pirates of the Caribbean and The Drovers Wife, both of which were supported by Australian taxpayers.”