Producers lose battle with ABC over ‘series stacking’

09 July, 2013 by Don Groves

A new terms of trade agreement between ABC-TV and the Screen Producers Association of Australia gives producers a number of concessions relating to the pay-TV holdback for sequels and remakes, on-air promotions and running clips on YouTube.

But producers were unable to persuade the public broadcaster to give ground on the issue of catch-up rights, which enables the ABC to stream episodes of Australian-commissioned series on iView.


That practice is known as series stacking. Producers and some distributors believe that streaming episodes of dramas after each episode has gone to air, and the complete series being available on iView for 14 days after the last episode is telecast, erode the show’s potential for DVD and Video-on-Demand revenues.

SPAA lobbied for a similar agreement between UK producers and broadcasters which limits the catch-up streaming to three episodes at any one time.

The ABC resisted that argument, claiming it needs the current level of exclusivity to protect the significant investment it makes in Australian children’s and adult drama production.

“We will revisit that issue,” SPAA Production Executive Owen Johnston told IF.

However the ABC did drop its demands for unlimited runs of pre-school series, agreeing to a maximum of 20 runs during the licence period.

The broadcaster also agreed to reduce the pay-TV holdback for Australian-produced sequels and remakes from two and half years to two years. That won’t affect US remakes such as Rake. The ABC insists the US version of the legal drama being produced for the Fox network, starring Greg Kinnear, Bojana Novakovic and Miranda Otto, can’t air in Australia until after the third series of Rake screens on the ABC, likely to be mid-2014.

The ABC has waived its rule that prevented producers from posting clips of their shows on You Tube, as long as each clip is under three minutes.

Also the ABC agreed to make provision in budgets for producers to make promos, teasers and recaps, items that were not always covered previously. The agreement came into effect July 1 and lasts for two years.