Producers continue push to close the NZ ‘loophole’

29 May, 2018 by Jackie Keast

Screen Producers Australia (SPA) has hit back at the commercial broadcasters for continuing to use second-run New Zealand content to help meet local content quotas, and made a renewed call for government to put an end to the practice.

Commercial FTA broadcasters may use NZ productions towards their quota requirements as a result of the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement. Kiwi programs that have already aired in NZ count as ‘first-release’ under the quota system because they are being shown for the first time in Australia.


According to ACMA’s 2017 compliance report, released last week, 25 per cent of first release drama on the Nine Network last year was from NZ, though Seven and Ten did not count any NZ programs towards this requirement.

When it came to documentary, 17 per cent of Seven’s first release local docos came from NZ, and 27 per cent for Ten. Nine did not count any Kiwi docos towards its first release doco requirement.

With regards to their total local programming, Seven averaged 290 hours of NZ content in 2017, Nine 83 hours and Ten 62.

In a statement, SPA CEO Matthew Deaner called the current situation “farcical”.

“To be honest, I’m disappointed, but not surprised; the trend to undermine the system continues,” he said.

“This makes a mockery of our local content system to the detriment of Australian audiences, Australian producers and the many thousands of Australian workers in the screen industry.”

SPA has long argued that the NZ “loophole” be closed. Last December, the House of Reps inquiry into the screen industry’s sustainability recommended that ‘first release’ be redefined under the content standard to mean first broadcast anywhere in the world.

Deaner said SPA awaits the government’s response to that report, but that timely action was needed lest the trend continue.

“If there is no change, the Australian government will have a better system for New Zealand producers than the New Zealand government.”