Press release from SPAA

SPAA welcomes the Government’s delivery of increased funding to the ABC for drama in this year’s federal government budget.

This commitment amounts to $70m over three years, which will be delivered in stages, $10m in 2009-10, $20m in 2010-11 and $40m in 2011-2012. While this is undoubtedly a solid outcome, SPAA has consistently argued that for maximum impact, the Government should deliver the majority of any new funding to the ABC in the first two years of the triennial.

However, we are given to understand that the current ABC funding base for drama, including the special Independent Production Fund of $10m per year will be retained as base level funding, to which the above will be added.

This represents in net terms a $20m first year funding package, and a subsequent $30 and $50m package for the remaining two years of the triennial. SPAA is greatly encouraged by this initiative, which brings it more in line with SPAA’s pre-budget arguments to Government.

SPAA commissioned a paper in March 2009 to examine the economic benefits of funding the ABC for 60 hours of first release drama in 2009-10, 75 hours in 2010-11 and 100 hours in 2011-12. The findings were clear; spending in the labour intensive screen sector would provide immediate job stimulus. I

ncreasing the spend on ABC productions from 30 to 90 hours would create around 1000 full time jobs in the industry and a total of 2500 jobs across the Australian economy in service industries, and translates to $80 million in wages pumped into the economy. In addition to the obvious and immediate economic benefits of additional funding for ABC drama, there are also several longer term benefits including significant skills development in the industry, increased audiences for the ABC and a greater variety of Australian drama programs for Australian audiences.

The audience and the Government would benefit from seeing the value of such commitment on screen well before the next election.

Geoff Brown, Executive Director of SPAA, said today: “What is clear from this budget announcement is that the Government has chosen not to deliver the ABC funding loaded up front, which will mean that much of the associated economic benefits described will be delayed and at a reduced level.

"While we can certainly live with the outcome delivered by the Government, SPAA will be monitoring the effect of the increased $10m in the 2009-10 budget on production commissioning, and if necessary keep lobbying Government to accelerate the cash flowing of the remaining two years funding to expedite the production of additional hours in the second year”.

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