Make it Australian campaign heads back to Canberra

The Make it Australian campaign is heading back to Canberra for the first time since the federal election, restating its case for local content requirements to be placed on digital platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The campaign is spearheaded by the Australian Directors’ Guild (ADG), Australian Writers’ Guild (AWG), Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) and Screen Producers Australia (SPA).

Among the delegation that will be in Canberra today and tomorrow are actors Marta Dusseldorp, Hugo Weaving, Leah Vandenberg and Rhys Muldoon, director Gillian Armstrong, screenwriters Shane Brennan and Ellie Beaumont, cinematographer Andrew Conder, and producers Barbara Stephen and Kevin Whyte. During the two-day visit, they will meet with representatives of the Liberal, National, Labor, Green and Centre Alliance parties.

The campaign will also push for the retention of Australian and children’s content rules for commercial free-to-air and pay television, competitive incentives to support film and television production in a global market, and sustainable funding for public broadcasters and Screen Australia. Further, it will call for the television Producer Offset be lifted from 20 per cent to 40 per cent so that it is in line with feature films.

In the wake of the release of ACCC’s Digital Platform Inquiry in July, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher indicated the government may consider some form of local content requirement for streaming services.

“In a time of great challenge and change, telling our own Australian stories to each other and the world has never been more important,” said MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy.

“We will be urging federal politicians to not only keep in place Australian and children’s content rules for commercial television, but to extend them to the digital realm.”

“These rules ensure that a diverse array of Australian stories is shown on Australian screens, and without them we would be flooded with content that speaks with a British or American accent,” said SPA CEO Matthew Deaner.

“It is time that content regulation evolved to keep pace with changing audience and viewing habits so streaming services, ISPs and telcos also have obligations to invest in original local programming.”

ADG executive director Kingston Anderson said: “Australia is competing in the global market but we are held back by our tax system.

“These uncompetitive tax incentives and rebates and uncertainty about top ups act as a hand brake on the Australian film and television sector’s future capacity to deliver quality content. Competitive tax offsets will increase production and support local jobs.”

AWG executive director Jacqueline Elaine said: “The ABC and SBS commission more local content than any other broadcaster, but they need to be properly funded.”

“It is time for our federal politicians to ensure funding of the ABC, SBS and Screen Australia is prioritised and returned to levels that enable them to adequately invest in the creation and development of Australian scripted and children’s content.”