Press Release from TM Publicity
The Federal Government needs to act immediately to honour its election promise to increase funding to the ABC for more Australian drama, Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA) representative Penny Chapman said today.
Ms Chapman – a former head of ABC drama and one of Australia’s most distinguished independent producers (RAN, The Road from Coorain) – said the lack of local drama on the national broadcaster was a cultural crisis.
“The facts are startling. The ABC screened only 17 hours of new local drama last year compared to an average 100 hours per year in the 80s and up to the mid 90s. We’re way behind where we were a decade ago and way behind by international standards,” Ms Chapman said.
““The Government’s election promise was to fund the ABC so that it was able to produce the same level of local drama each year as required of the commercial broadcasters – i.e. 90 hours – yet, just 12 days out from the budget – there is growing concern that the necessary funding may not be delivered.”
Ms Chapman was speaking at a special presentation for Federal and State politicians of the first episode of the new series of ABC drama East of Everything, hosted by SPAA.
Actress Susie Porter, star of East of Everything, said: “It is encouraging that the Government’s has announced funding for a new children’s television channel. The channel will make an important contribution to creating jobs in the screen industry and ensuring Australian children have the opportunity to watch stories of cultural relevance to their lives, however, the Government must now take the next step and properly fund adult drama on the ABC.”
Geoff Brown, Executive Director of SPAA, said that additional funding to the ABC specifically for local drama would provide an immediate economic stimulus in the production industry, creating jobs in the sector and related industries.
“The analysis recently undertaken by the Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA) indicated that increasing the spend on ABC productions to 90 hours in a given year would create around 1000 full time jobs in the television production industry and a total of 2500 jobs across the Australian economy due to the significant flow-on effects that result from screen production, such as in related service industries,” Mr Brown said.
“This means $80 million in wages alone pumped into the economy.”
The SPAA analysis also indicates that a significant advantage of spending on screen content production is that it is a labour intensive sector, and will therefore provides an immediate job stimulus.
Mr Brown added that, in addition to the obvious and immediate economic benefits of additional funding for ABC drama, there were also several longer terms benefits including significant skills development in the industry, increased audiences for the ABC and greater variety of Australian drama programs for Australian audiences.