Solution proposed for offset issue

22 August, 2013 by Don Groves

Australian producers are finding it increasingly tough to negotiate deals with Australian theatrical distributors, a vital element in qualifying for the producer offset.

Leading media and entertainment lawyer Ian Robertson has proposed a solution: Extend the 40% offset for films to telemovies.


Speaking at a SPAA Masterclass in Sydney on Wednesday, the Holding Redlich partner described the requirement for theatrical release in order to receive the 40% offset as becoming “increasingly stressed.”

He said: “Theatrical release for many Australian-financed feature films is becoming increasingly difficult. In addition, the current structure of the offset encourages films to be made for theatrical release when that means of release may not be optimal.

“The term ‘telemovie’ is seen by some as a negative term which means cheap with low production values. Perhaps ‘features made for television’ would be a better term.”

Robertson suggested that to qualify for the 40% rebate, films should have a minimum budget of $1.5 million and a running time of least 90 minutes.

SPAA has called on the government to double the 20% offset for TV fare. Applying the 40% rebate to telemovies would be an interim step and could be adopted by the incoming federal government, since a relatively limited number of features would be eligible.

SPAA Executive Director Matthew Deaner told IF, “We welcome any proposals that are aimed at creating more opportunities to both generate and access great Australia content. This remains one of our top priorities as the unique challenges of distributing and exhibiting Australian feature films is an issue we are continuing to canvass across the production community.

“Incentives to encourage more content to be available for financing and consumption on platforms as ubiquitous as television are very sensible.”'