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News July 16, 2018

Music and screen industries unite to call for Aussie content on streaming services

Music and screen industries unite to call for Aussie content on streaming services

Australia’s music and screen industries have teamed up to push the Commonwealth government to update Australian content for streaming services in line with radio and TV.

In a joint submission to a Senate inquiry into Australian content on broadcast, radio and streaming services, APRA AMCOS and Screen Producers Australia (SPA) called on the government to act in the national interest.

Specifically, they are asking for the introduction of quotas for streaming services (music and video) and a commitment for a percentage of their Australian revenues to be used to create Australian content.

There has been an Australian quota for radio since 1942 and for television since 1961.

Both associations insist that having these quotas has strengthened the sectors and ensured their survival.

The government is currently reviewing commercial TV’s content obligations to ensure Australians have to local content, the sustainability of the film and TV industry and the quid pro quo for privileged competitive access to spectrum.

APRA AMCOS and the SPA want the content quota for radio and TV to be maintained and enhanced and for new local content obligations on streaming services such as Netflix where many consumers and advertisers have drifted to after abandoning traditional broadcast media.

“In the absence of regulation, the SVOD market is unlikely to generate significant investment in new Australian content, though it adds some value to existing content rights,” the two associations said.

According to their figures, Netflix had 7.6 million subscribers in Australia last September (estimated by researcher Roy Morgan) yet its Australian content is between 2% and 2,5%.

Stan’s is 9.5% but its catalogue is smaller.

A House Inquiry recommended that 10% of revenue by local SVODS be spent on local productions.

CEO of APRA AMCOS, Dean Ormston said, “Regardless of the technology or the platform, continually exposing Australian audiences to the wealth and quality of Australian music and screen content fosters a sustainable Australian industry and encourages the development of original and creative Australian works.

“In particular, we know that for Australian music it’s vital to ensure there’s space and opportunities for a variety of local artists to be programmed through streaming services and aired on commercial radio, in particular on the big metro stations.”

SPA CEO Matthew Deaner added, “I share with the music industry a desire to have these content rules enhanced and evolved to ensure great Australian film, television and music continues to entertain Australian and international audiences for generations to come.

“In particular for screen content, we need local content obligations for new media and streaming services, as they have in Europe, as was recommended by a House of Representatives committee last year.”

As more countries are looking at quotas for Netflix to force more local productions (the Netherlands is considering 10%) its CEO Reed Hastings has previously claimed that “quotas can backfire” and that it spending $1 billion in original content worldwide.

APRA AMCOS is also questioning why radio quotas are allowed to change with formats.

Classic Rock formats have to play a minimum of 20%, but for Gold it is 15% and for Easy Gold is 10%.

The association argues, “The various format categories are not defined anywhere within the Code and have not been updated since at least 2001.

“APRA AMCOS questions why the format of a service ought to be determinative of the applicable Australian music quota percentage for that service.

“APRA AMCOS proposes that all music focussed services ought to be subject to the full 25% Australian music quota.”

APRA AMCOS and the SPA have made a number of recommendations to the Commonwealth government.

Among them were:

  • Music streaming services to commit to making available in prominent positions on their Australian service offerings by including a minimum agreed percentage of local content in locally curated playlists.
  • Close the loopholes of different content for some radio formats.
  • Close the loophole where New Zealand content, especially in drama and documentaries, is claimed to be Australian.
  • In 2017, NZ content accounted for 25% of Nine Network’s drama, 25% of the Ten’s documentaries and Seven broadcast 290 hours of New Zealand content.
  • An independent review of the efficacy and compliance of the current code categories for commercial radio.

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