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Media Statement
2 October 2017 

New approach needed to secure the future of Australian content

Free TV Australia has called for a range of adjustments to quotas and financial incentives in its submission to the Government’s Australian and Children’s Screen Content Review. 

“Some of our content regulations date back to the 1960s and most haven’t changed substantially for 15 years, despite the arrival of the Internet and subscription video on demand services,” Ms Pamela Longstaff, Acting CEO, Free TV Australia said today. 

“We need to move towards a system that is more relevant and flexible, and where networks are free to invest in the Australian content that today’s audiences want to watch,” she added. 

Free TV’s key recommendations are for the government to remove quotas for commercial free-to-air broadcasters to deliver C (Children) and P (Preschool) content and for drama quotas to be made more flexible. The Producer Offset should also be increased to 40% for eligible TV production – as it is for film – and maintained after a series reaches 65 episodes. 

Commercial free-to-air broadcasters are the largest producers of Australian content, spending $1.5 billion a year to create programming for almost 20 million weekly viewers. This news, sport, entertainment and other content provides extensive social and economic dividends. 

Free TV’s submission notes how much viewing habits have changed. Audiences for children’s content and drama have fallen, while major event programming has become the dominant new avenue for telling Australian stories. People also watch more TV on demand. 

“Our members need to be able to follow their audiences. This means changing requirements that are no longer delivering social outcomes and putting in place the right settings to generate new Australian content and keep our production ecosystem strong,” Ms Longstaff said. 

Free TV has today also released detailed analysis of the viewing behaviour of Australian children aged 0-13 - Changing Views: Australian Kids and Commercial Television. It shows children are primarily watching family entertainment programs rather than the C and P classified content specifically made for them on commercial free-to-air television.

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