Producers decry drops in first-run local TV content

25 July, 2014 by Don Groves

Screen Producers Australia has accused the primary commercial free-to-air channels of screening “significantly less” first-run Australian drama, documentaries and children’s programs.

SPA executive director Matt Deaner described as “disappointing and alarming” the annual compliance results for metropolitan commercial FTA licensees for 2013 released by the Australian Media and Communications Authority.

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It’s the first survey since the Gillard Government’s media reforms which allow broadcasters to fulfil the local content quotas by airing dramas, documentaries and children's programming across their multi-channels.

ACMA’s results showed the Seven Network provided the vast majority of its children's programming on 7Two and 7Mate, along with some documentaries and a miniseries, Deaner said.

The Nine Network screened two thirds of its Australian drama on multi-channels as well as all children's programs on Go! Network Ten claimed  Neighbours for the first time since 2010, making up one third of its drama score, and shifted its children's programming to Eleven.

ACMA reported that for first-release Australian drama, the Nine Network met 51% of its obligation with New Zealand programming, compared to just 7% for Seven Network and 4% for Ten.

“This is clearly a disturbing trend,” Deaner said. “Our fears have been realised. The industry was reassured by the Gillard Government that the licence fee reductions to the commercial free-to-air television licensees would better protect Australia content and we can now see that this isn't true. This is particularly so for our most vulnerable content protected by the drama, documentary and children's sub-quotas.

“The effect of the reforms is to shift first release Australian content away from the high visibility primary channel to channels with much lower audiences. With cheap imported New Zealand drama shelved on multi-channels accounting for 51% of the Nine Network's drama points and 60% of their drama broadcast hours, it is clear that the increased flexibility has become a cynical exercise that is short-changing Australian viewers.

“This is not in the spirit of the Australian content standard and, when considered alongside more attractive production incentives that were recently introduced in New Zealand, there needs government review and reform.”

Deaner said SPA will continue to debate deregulation in the communications sector and will seek further talks with the Abbott Government: "We want the Government to work with the industry to explore safeguards under which the viewing public do not continue to see more screen stories about their cousins from the land of the long white cloud than their own stories from our great southern land.”

In a media release earlier today Free TV Australia said commercial broadcasters surpassed their primary channel content quotas in 2013, averaging 64.3% across the networks. Broadcasters also screened more than double the amount of content required on their multi-channels, it said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Deb Davies

    I’m angry with 7. They insulted and degraded us on age. It has been suggested that the reason they axed A Place to Call Home was because it only drew over 50’s age. What a load of rot. If they did their homework properly they’d find the demographics are 10-92. At present I’m part of a huge petition doing the circuit via FB and TWITTER. We have over 18,000 signatures wanting the show returned. When it was being axed they ended series 2 with a rushed last episode wh8ch insulted the viewers intelligence and the beautiful cast too.

  • georgie palmer

    Please save A Place To Call Home which ch 7 axed saying it only catered for the over50’s. This is untrue as a lot of viewers writing in are in their 20’s. Fed up with usa sitcoms and reality shows. We must suppoert Australian dramas and our amazing Australian acting industry.

  • Kerry Stephens

    Not impressed with network 7 for axing A Place to Call Home with the reasons of not enough viewers to make it viable. There is now a group on fb that has over 2,000 members rallying together writing letters , organizing petitions and having protests outside 7 broadcasts of Sunrise to try and bring this magnificent Australian drama back. To have a look at our efforts go to http://www.saptch.com

  • ELIZABETH BLOCH

    WE NEED TO BRING “A PLACE TO CALL HOME” BACK ON TV, THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST AUSTRALIAN DRAMAS WE HAVE HAD, WATCHED BY VARIOUS AGE GROUPS AND ENJOYED BY ALL. WE NEED TO LET THE POWERS THAT BE KNOW WE ARE NOT IMPRESSED BY ITS AXING, AND A LOT OF PETITIONS ARE BEING SIGNED TO GET THIS SHOW BACK WERE IT BELONGS.

  • Kim Juresa

    How dissappointing that recently ch 7 axed A Place To Call Home. A wonderful Australian Drama. Loved by many. All viewers were shocked at its axing after 2 seasons. The story lines were crudely addressed to finish the show up. Shocking. Australian Drama needs to be supported not squashed when in mid story. I have walked away from ch 7. They cannot be trusted preferring to put on more
    reality rubbish, embarrasing us to the world.

  • Loraine Fox

    Hello, just look at what Channel 7 did to A Place to call Home.
    This was an awesome show and my opinion is that it was even better than the big production “Australia’.
    Such a shame they axed it.
    Loraine

  • Rose Wallington

    Channel 7 had one of the best Australian series ever produced “A Place to Call Home” and then decided to discontinue it halfway through Series 2 – this drama had a huge following of mainly over 50s, which apparently didn’t fit their ideal audience. Also sited cost, but once all the sets/props etc were organised, that must be yet another excuse. Disgusted by Channel 7. They seemed to lose interest in it, stopped promoting it and kept changing the times.

  • Rosemary Combe

    I totally agree with this article. We have a multitude of talent in this country and they are being left on the shelf. The groups I belong to all decry the totally brainless “reality” shows. Anzac Girls has just started and it looks like a winner. I also belong to a group ” Save A Place To Call Home”. This was a first class series with a fabulous cast and interesting storylines. There are thousands of us protesting against the sudden dumping of the show, it was gathering a good audience till the channel started shoving it into “Family Unfriendly” time slots.