By Brendan Swift

The Screen Producers Association of Australia has called on new arts minister Simon Crean to set an agenda that promotes local content over the next three years.

The call comes as the industry prepares to grapple with a series of major changes including the analogue TV broadcast switch-off, expanded digital multi-channel free-to-air networks, the rollout of the national broadband network (NBN) and a review of Australian content regulation.

SPAA executive director Geoff Brown said the organisation welcomed Crean's appointment, which offered a fresh start and the opportunity for renewal.

"It is fair to say that the previous Labor government provided financial support to the broadcasters on an unprecedented scale eg. the $250 million plus cut on the commercial network’s licence fees over two years," he said in a statement.

"We want to see some balance restored with more emphasis given to content producers and local talent."

Prior to the election, the Coalition pledged $60 million towards a temporary film fund proposed by SPAA, aimed at boosting production of mid-budget features.

However, the the Labor party remained largely silent on its screen content policy, which was then led by former Arts Minister Peter Garrett.

SPAA now plans to seek Minister Crean's support for the fund, known as the Producer Distributor Film Fund, and new measures for funding local television content with less reliance on direct subsidy.

The government is expected to hand its report to parliament on its ongoing review of the independent production sector by December.

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