Press release from SPAA

“Its time for the federal government to ensure that Australians see an increase in Australian content on our television screens, as promised by the big three networks in return for a reduction in their obligations of hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Geoff Brown, Executive Director of SPAA.

The Gillard Government rushed a one page Television License Fees Amendment 2012 (no 1) through the House of Representatives late yesterday to cut a further 25 percent off license fees payable by the free to air television networks for the use of public spectrum.

“This renewal of the rebate will now amount to savings in excess of 275 million dollars for the networks and they expressly requested it of the Minister to ensure appropriate levels of Australian content,” said Brown. “There has been no appreciable increase in Australian content since the license rebate and in that time the amount of foreign content on the free to air multi channels and on the Internet has increased. The government must now act to shore up Australian content by legislating for an increase in the Producer Tax Offset for television.”

The government has commissioned a Convergence Review looking into the difficulties that have arisen as a result of the converging of the formerly separate media environments of radio, television and the Internet. The Review panel recently published an Interim Report suggesting that the government should increase the Producer Offset for television from 20% to 40% and broaden its base to ensure that more Australian content is produced to counter the ever increasing levels of foreign content in the converged environment.

“The government must heed the recommendation in the interim report and commit to an increase in the Offset,” said Brown. The Convergence Review final report is due by the end of April.

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