Proposed local rules for streaming services are ‘weak’, say screen makers
The lobby group wants a 20% content quota imposed on streaming companies, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, with specific protections for critical genres, such as drama and children’s shows.
“Alarming” degree of ministerial discretion
He argues that the government’s proposed 5% quota “will fall far short of what is needed to ensure that the regulatory system meets public policy objectives regarding the availability of Australian content to the public”.
“Perhaps the defining feature of the proposed regime is an alarming degree of ministerial discretion, which carries an untenable risk of inadequate and inconsistent regulatory action,” the brief states.
“As part of this, Australian content becomes an issue for the uncertain preferences of future ministers, who are subject to intense lobbying efforts by major commercial companies.”
Netflix, Nine’s Stan, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video are already voluntarily reporting their local content investments, together investing $630 million in local content in fiscal year 2020-21. Nine is the publisher of The Australian Financial Review.
Late last year, Netflix’s reboot of Raised from heartache went into production in Sydney and a new Australian comedy-drama series Wellmaniawith Celeste Barber, is in production in Sydney.
The figure generally includes Australian content and Australia-related productions, which include shows filmed here but not necessarily shot in the country or likely to be creatively controlled by Australians, measures which the chief executive said of Screen Producers Australia, Matthew Deaner, are important to the Australian screen production industry. but are not critical from a current cultural or business perspective.
“You can create the American environment that was in Young Rock in Brisbane, as it was, but you can also create it in Toronto or Atlanta, or any number of territories,” he said.
“These aren’t really valuable pieces for Australian culture, they are valuable for other reasons.”
by Netflix Clickbait is another example of content produced in Australia but lacking an authentic Australian story, as it does Pieces of her, which also featured a number of Australian actors as American characters.
Australia is not the first to legislate content requirements. In March 2020, Canada unveiled legislation to regulate US broadcasters such as Netflix and Disney+, requiring them to subsidize the development, production and distribution of local content.
Switzerland will hold a national vote on May 15 to decide whether Netflix, Disney and Amazon should invest up to 4% of their local revenues in the production of Swiss films and TV series.
Other European countries have requirements for streaming platforms to invest in local or European film production – Portugal is at 1%, Denmark at 2%, Spain at 5%, Italy at 20% and France at 26%. . Countries like Germany, Belgium and Croatia levy a tax which is then shared with institutions promoting cinema.