Google's YouTube and Screen Australia are bankrolling a new $400,000 fund to support the creation of online content.

The funds will be divided among four or five producers/artists. Applications for the Skip Ahead program will open on November 11 via Screen Australia’s website.

The successful applicants will also receive a trip to work at the YouTube Space in either Los Angeles, Tokyo or London in 2014.

The timing of the announcement of Google's first commissioning in Australia is curious, just two days after Seven West Media CEO Tim Worner and Ten Network CEO Hamish McLennan accused the company of "gaming" the tax system by paying minimal income tax.

Worner said the Internet giant is "raiding our revenue and they're doing it under different conditions to the ones that we're playing under."

McLennan said: "If we all agree that we're playing fair, I think it's wrong that you've got a technology company gaming the system and eroding our tax base, as well as providing stiff competition (to TV networks),"

Google insists it complies with the tax laws in every country in which it operates and its overall effective global corporate tax rate in 2012 was nearly 20%.

Announcing the Skip Ahead initiative, to which both parties will contribute $200,000, Screen Australia chief operating officer Fiona Cameron said, “Australian YouTube channels, such as communitychannel, Janoskians, and mychonny are incredibly popular with global audiences. The breadth of talent on these channels is indicative of Australia’s creative force.

"YouTube allows breakthrough, cutting edge content to access new audiences anywhere and anytime. Screen Australia and YouTube aim to provide this talent pool with the resources to develop episodic storylines.”

Cameron told IF the initiative was largely instigated by Google but she said Screen Australia had been discussing ways to collaborate with the company for some time.

She said Screen Australia will, where applicable, mentor the successful applicants by matching them with experienced production companies. 

Maile Carnegie, Google MD for Australia/ New Zealand, said, “YouTube has launched thousands of careers and helped Australian creators reach audiences around the world. This program will encourage even more of our artists to create unique online content, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with.”

The scheme is not designed to support aspiring content creators, who will benefit from the Screen Australia/ABC iView Fresh Blood program.

Skip Ahead  is open to Australian artists who have built a following on YouTube with a minimum subscriber base, probably around 100,000, and are consistently creating original content. Funding guidelines will be available on Screen Australia's website from November 11.

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  1. The Janoskians are terrible association to have made. ‘Creative force’ is one descriptor, juvenile misogynists is perhaps more apt. It’s also worth noting that communitychannel already receives around $100K annually from YouTube ad share revenue, in addition revenue and perks from branded content in her vids (Lonely Planet etc). Why do these creators need more help? Entitling any content creator to tax payers money when they are already monetizing through 100K subscribers is ludicrous.

  2. Please support things that should be funded (potentially good content that needs support) rather than popular content (Janoskians). I watch more online video than TV nowadays (thanks to iView) and I would love to see the potential for locally produced content that will work outside mainstream broadcast methods, but not be crap

  3. “Breadth of talent”? These are terrible examples to aspire to. Based on the subscriber number threshold, this handful of creators would be the only ones eligible for the funding, regardless of the artistic merit of their output. I understand the need to encourage Australian content with broad appeal. But funding bodies don’t give money to reality TV rubbish just because it has broad appeal. Why fund the online equivalent?

    Plus the funding offered by iView Fresh Blood is a pretty poor consolation prize for those creators who actually care about storytelling and production values and aren’t globally adored by idiot teens. Sadly it’s only relevant if you are a sketch comedy creator.

  4. Google is rightly criticised by Tim Worner from the Seven Network. Its turnover in Australia is $2 billion and it paid $758,000 tax on it in 2012. It is subject to almost universal condemnation for its tax minimisation and exploitation of imperfect international tax laws by countries throughout the world. So what does Screen Australia do? Throws 200k at it and only to those already on Google with a minimum subscriber base of 100,000. Google’s spin doctors must be laughing at how easy it was to do. Buddy up to the Federal government’s screen agency with a 200k contribution and then be able to talk about its support for Australian content creators. This contribution is equivalent to about a third of the budget of one episode of Packed To The Rafters. Keep up your criticism Mr Worner and shame on Screen Australia

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