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Aussies struggle with NZ drama

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) report on free-to-air TV’s local content obligations for 2013 found that broadcasters met their obligations. Screen Producers Australia (SPA) argued that one network was not playing in the spirit of the rules.

51% of the Nine Network’s first release “Australian” drama came from New Zealand last year, under a provision in the Australia and New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement allowing NZ content be considered “Australian”.

Underbelly: Land of the Long Green Cloud

Underbelly: Land of the Long Green Cloud: Welcome to Australia

Australia’s other FTA commercial networks Seven and Ten screened 7% and 4% NZ content respectively. Local content quotas apply to drama, children’s and documentary programming.

The Nine Network came in for considerable stick, not least from Screen Producers Australia, although much of the “problem” came from screening Underbelly NZ Land of the Long Green Cloud, made by trans-Tasman production company Screentime.

Nine screened an average 65% of local content programming between 6am and midnight across 2013, comfortably exceeding its obligation to screen 55%, although SPA wasn’t impressed.

It described the outcomes as “both disappointing and alarming” and called Nine’s use of NZ programming as “a disturbing trend” and “the most concerning aspect of these results”.

SPA Executive Director, Matthew Deaner, also cited the “more attractive production incentives that were recently introduced in New Zealand” in a call for government review and reform of the quota regulations to ensure “the viewing public do not continue to see more screen stories about their cousins from the land of the long white cloud”.

The full ACMA release is here. The full SPA release is here.