‘Little J and Big Cuz.’
The ABC should get at least $40 million to commission and produce children’s content each year and SBS $20 million for children’s and youth content, according to the Australian Children’s Television Foundation.
These dedicated amounts would be part of both broadcasters’ funding negotiations with the Federal Government and the outcomes should be reported to the ACMA and made publicly available.
“We currently stand on the brink of a great opportunity or an irretrievable loss for our nation’s children, the broader community, and our local screen industry,” the ACTF asserts in its submission to the government’s ‘Supporting Australian Stories on Our Screens’ options review.
The 38-year-old organisation headed by Jenny Buckland supports the united call by Screen Producers Australia and industry guilds for all delivery platforms to invest a minimum percentage of their Australian revenues into local scripted content, with annual sub-quotas for drama, documentary and children’s programs.
It proposes raising the 20 per cent Producer Offset for scripted content to 30 per cent, coupled with a 10 per cent “cultural uplift” for all scripted children’s programming with significant Australian elements.
The ACTF, which receives nearly $2.9 million each year from the Commonwealth and much smaller amounts from the states and territories, makes the case for significant additional funding.
This would enable it to invest in a greater number of children’s projects, counteract the lower licence fees paid for children’s projects by Australian broadcasters and commissioning platforms and make distinctively Australian projects more competitive when vying for broadcaster commissions.
These measures, it contends, would result in the following benefits:
• A comprehensive, predominantly Australian service for children up to 16-years-old on the public broadcasters; and Australian content on commercial platforms wherever those platforms target a children’s audience;
• An attractive financing environment for children’s content which favours scripted content with significant Australian cultural elements, without risking that funding being appropriated or re-allocated to other forms of content;
• Content that inspires, entertains, informs and educates Australian children and their families, contributing to wider national priorities such as mental health, anti-bullying and school readiness initiatives; and
• Production activity, jobs, training and a diversified screen sector all around Australia, including regional Australia.
Its submission quotes Tony Thorne, Little J and Big Cuz’s director and designer: “It is humbling to think a child in a community in the Top End or Tasmania can look at Little J and Big Cuz, made only of a few curving lines moving across a screen, and recognise themselves.”