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04 August 2020

Quota suspension could spell curtains for film and TV small businesses

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell says thousands of small businesses in the screen production industry could be left on the cutting room floor, if Australian content quotas are not reinstated.

Ms Carnell says the emergency quota suspension introduced in response to the COVID-19 crisis has taken a heavy toll on the screen production industry, 86% of which are small businesses, calling on the Federal Government and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to provide certainty to the struggling industry.

“As it stands, Australian broadcasters are under no obligation to produce new, locally made content until the end of this year at the earliest,” Ms Carnell says.

“This is hurting thousands of small production companies that would ordinarily be creating Australia’s best drama, documentaries and children’s content.

“We know that many of these small production companies are ready to return to work, but there are limited projects in the pipeline due to the uncertainty over how long this quota suspension will remain in place.

“It’s very difficult to attract investment under these circumstances, which could ultimately drive many of these small businesses to the brink.

“That’s devastating for the small businesses involved and the entire production industry.

“It also has significant ramifications for our culture and the telling of Australian stories. What would we do without Bluey or iconic Australian films such as Crocodile Dundee or Top End Wedding?

“Equally, this could have serious economic consequences. Deloitte Access Economics estimates the Australian film and television industries directly contribute $5.8 billion to the economy and about 46,000 full time jobs.

“The industry needs a clear commitment that the quota suspension period will not be extended beyond 2020. The government should also ensure mandatory Australian-made quotas apply to all other streaming services.

“While the government has invested in attracting foreign productions to our shores, much more could be done to directly foster the Australian screen production industry.”