Screen Australia has backed away from many proposed TV funding changes after they were met with criticisms from industry.

The new guidelines, effective from July 1, have outlined a number of changes to the initial draft blueprint which was released last November.

The 28-page controversial blueprint suggested the national agency would cut funding on foreign formats and TV productions after the first two series, effectively hurting multicultural broadcaster SBS.

When it was released, SBS’ director of television and online content Matt Campbell told IF he didn’t understand the logic behind the proposal.

“If great ideas come from overseas, why should we deprive the Australian public of it as well?” Campbell asked, of the foreign format proposal.

“The car I am driving right now is not Australian but I’m still enjoying it. I don’t understand the logic in it.”

Funding TV productions after the first two series has changed with the agency now allowing up to 26 hours of all TV drama or documentary to be eligible for funding – which may include multiple series.

Funding for foreign formats in other areas will be allowed, however “preference will be given to original formats”.

SBS’ Who Do You Think You Are? is now eligible to receive funding, after being severely affected if the original blueprint was accepted.

However, foreign formats – in the National Documentary Program and Signature Documentary Program – won’t receive any funding.

Importantly, broadcaster allocations for documentary have changed from the initial proposal.

Currently SBS and ABC receive 40 per cent funding while 20 per cent is open to commercial and subscription television broadcasters. A proposal which allowed any broadcaster to receive up to 60 per cent fell over after industry consultation.

Access to funds in the domestic programs (NDP and General Documentary Program) will now be split between broadcasters – like now – but ABC will have 50 per cent, SBS 40 per cent and commercial and subscription TV broadcasters 10 per cent.

Holdback requirements have now been made more flexible and Screen Australia will not generally invest more than $2 million into a TV drama project.

Licence fees have also been raised to $440,000 per hour for adult drama and $100,000 per half hour for children’s television.

At last year’s SPAA Conference where the proposal was launched, Showtime’s Anthony Mrsnik argued that pay-TV could not afford $440,000 per hour “to a much smaller proportion of the Australian audience”.

Also announced today, the national agency has introduced a $3-5 million All Media Fund, which encourages interactive or multi-platform, innovative storytelling.

The program will be comprised of two streams: digital ignition, which will provide development support for innovative and interactive projects (including games); and all media production, which will provide production support for linear and non-linear projects that “push the creative envelope”.

Applications for the inaugural All Media round will close on August 8, with a second round to be offered in February next year.

The new guidelines will provide the television sector with $30-35 million to support drama, children’s and documentary programming.

To read the full guidelines click here.

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