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.