Broadcasters increasingly rely on NZ content to bolster content quotas: ACMA

26 June, 2012 by Brendan Swift

ACMA has warned the industry that free-to-air broadcasters are increasingly relying on New Zealand content to bolster their minimum annual Australian content quotas.

While all free-to-air metropolitan commercial television licensees met their Australian content quotas last year, the Australian Communications and Media Authority noted that New Zealand content is also considered part of that figure under the terms of a trade agreement.


“Australian content quotas have played an important role in maintaining the production of quality Australian stories and programs to screen on commercial free-to-air television,” ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said. “However, the ACMA notes that the amount of New Zealand drama programming claimed as first release Australian drama quota has been increasing. The Australia and New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement requires that New Zealand television programs are treated as Australian programs, and are treated accordingly by the ACMA.”

At least 55 per cent of the commercial broadcasters content screened between 6am and midnight must be Australian. In 2011, metropolitan commercial television broadcasters screened more than 60 per cent Australian content during that time.

Seven Network licensees (in the five mainland state capital cities) and Nine Network licensees (in the three metropolitan markets of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane) both averaged around 66 per cent while Network Ten licensees averaged around 62 per cent.

However, Ten's first release Australian drama included between 25-33 per cent New Zealand content (although drama screened on its digital channels, such as Neighbours on Eleven, is not counted under the legislation). Seven's first release Australian documentary quota included 33-36 per cent New Zealand content.

Separately, as part of its annual compliance review of the Children’s Television Standards (CTS), ACMA found that Channel Seven Brisbane failed to meet its preschool program quota in 2011. It broadcast 129.5 hours of preschool programs in 2011, 30 minutes short of the 130 hour quota due to a scheduling error. The station will broadcast an additional 30 minutes of preschool programs in 2012 to make up for the shortfall.

The current content quota system could be dismantled after the government's Convergence Review recommended an expenditure model that would include a wider array of media companies than broadcasters.

The full results can be found at the ACMA website.