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Producers call for end to NZ content “loophole”

Producers are urging the government to put an end to New Zealand TV programmes qualifying as Australian content.

Under the Australia-NZ Economic Trade Agreement, NZ content be claimed as “local content” but Screen Producers Australia is calling on the government to address the issue.

SPA CEO Matthew Deaner said, “The loophole must be closed. Because of a lack of foresight when negotiating a trade deal with New Zealand in the 1980s, broadcasters can broadcast cheap, second-run New Zealand programs and have them qualify as Australian. Having New Zealand from Above and New Zealand on a Plate qualify as Australian content makes a mockery of the Australian Content Standard. This is one of the reasons why a content review, announced by the Government on the weekend, is long-overdue.

“The report lays bare the stress the industry is under and unfortunately, the commercial television broadcasters’ commitment to Australian drama and Australian children are the first casualties. Since 2013, the broadcasters’ expenditure on Australian drama has dropped nearly 30 per cent. At the same time, New Zealand drama is increasingly used as a cheap substitute. In 2016, Channel Nine acquit just over 40 per cent of its first-run drama quota on New Zealand content and TEN acquit 20 per cent of its first-run children’s drama quota on New Zealand content.

“Screen Producers Australia has developed proposals to address this loophole. We will continue to seek a solution to this growing problem.”

The push follows wholesale media reform changes proposed by the government, including a content review.

“On the weekend the Government announced further measures to provide some welcome relief for the commercial television broadcasters. However, the Government again missed an opportunity to shore up support for the Australian production industry and tie licence fee reductions to increases in commitments to independent production,” said Deaner.

Some productions such as Seven’s 800 Words include Australian co-prodution funding.

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