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Australian content expenditure to be retained at 10%



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ASTRA Australian Subscription Television and Radio AssociafTorT

MEDIA RELEASE

AUSTRALIAN CONTENT EXPENDITURE TO BE RETAINED AT 10%

2 April 1998

The Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA) said it welcomed the Federal Government’s commitment to consult with the industry on the detail o f the new drama expenditure rules.

The subscription TV industry is committed to Australian, production because Australian audiences want Australian programs.

ASTRA's Executive Director, Ms Debra Richards, said: “Subscription TV in its establishment phase has been operating under a voluntary scheme which requires a percentage o f expenditure on drama equivalent to the level being achieved today by the commercial television networks, which have the advantage o f more than 40 years in

business.

“Our expenditure will automatically increase as our audiences grow, with or without spending rules, providing substantial investment and expanding opportunities for the Australian production industry."

Ms Richards said the Government had recognised that a requirement for subscription TV movie channels to spend 10% o f their budget on new Australian drama will substantially expand Australian production in future years,

Ms Richards added, however, that the Government had failed to properly recognise the potential o f non-movie drama channels and programming to provide jobs, training and growth for the wider independent production industry.

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The decision to enforce and maintain the 10% spend is in line with the Australian Broadcasting Authority’s (ABA) recommendation which has been with the Government since May last year.

ASTRA agrees with the conclusion in the ABA’s report that: “Any Australian content requirements should encourage the production by these non-movie drama channels of new Australian programs, which better match their channel niche.”

Ms Richards noted that the ABA had also recommended that “any regulation o f Australian content on pay TV should take account of the distinct nature of the pay TV sector o f broadcasting."

“This view by the ABA seems to be in conflict with the Government’s decision to place the responsibility for drama expenditure on subscription TV licence holders, which do not always control the content on the channels they carry,” she said.

For further information:

Debra Richards 0418 236 174 Executive Director, ASTRA