Doing Things By Quarters

Crying Poor Again

This link came in from Pleiades. It appears the Federal Government has watered down the screen quota for Australian productions.

The Minister for Communications Senator Conroy announced that the Government will bring forward a Bill – in addition to other media reforms – making permanent the 50 per cent reduction in the licence fees paid by commercial television broadcasters, conditional on the broadcast of an additional 1490 hours of Australian content by 2015.

“These measures are worthless,” said Australian Directors Guild Executive Director, Kingston Anderson. “For close to $150 million the free to air networks will be able to sit on their hands and screen more and more cheap overseas content. This is no quid pro quo. This is selling Australian audiences out to fatten up the bottom lines of the commercial broadcasters in an election year.”

The Convergence Review Committee produced its final report in early 2011 and recommended a 50 per cent increase in drama, documentary and children’s subquotas as well as developing a plan for a new uniform content scheme to support increased levels of Australian content on all content service providers.

Anderson said: “If this is the sum total of the Government’s response to the Convergence review then this is, to put it frankly, a disgrace. The Convergence Review Committee put two years’ worth of careful considered thought into developing a roadmap for the future of the content industry. The government’s response is visionless.”

First of all, Stephen Conroy is a joke. You don’t want to say for a politician who probably means well on many fronts, but he’s also the author of internet censorship filter plan. So in the balance of things, you can’t really hope he’s going to be all that effective in putting laws that help Australian production. He’s not in the least bit artistic or musical or culturally sensitive except for banging on about his Catholic views so it is coming from a figure who is unsympathetic to begin with. Most sensible people would describe Stephen Conroy a s a party hack, or a jumped up apparatchik. It doesn’t bode well for the ALP they have him as this kind of unremovable Senator.

All the same, I do wonder about the quota system because it seems to me it’s there to prop up production entities that have entrenched themselves with the various networks and broadcasters. The same names making TV have been doing so for a very long time, and it’s not exactly the burgeoning growing industry it’s portrayed to be.

After all if the stations can run reruns of old shows and still attract an audience that supports the practice, doesn’t that sort of undermine the argument for the need for fresh content? As in, if the old stuff’s better than the new stuff, what’s so valuable about having new crappy stuff over old good stuff? The MEAA and the Director’s Guild are thundering about these changes not being in line with the Convergence Review, but I’m trying to see how this is different from say, the gun lobby crying uncle every time there’s a hint of a change in gun laws. The entrenched powers in Australian TV are very entrenched, and it is in their vested interest to keep the oligopoly going.

You can colour me unimpressed by all the arguments put forward by the screen lobby. We do this every few years where we demand more money and more opportunities, and somehow it ends up that there’s less money and it’s going to the same old people. I sure as heck am not going to sign the AWG petition – in fact they sent it out by email and I sent it to the trash without opening it.

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