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Equity welcomes Convergence Review’s recognition of the importance of Australian content

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Actors Equity Australia welcomes the Convergence Review’s interim report findings, which recognise the importance of local content in a new media landscape.

The Interim Report of the Convergence Review Committee was released yesterday following a six month review process. It recommended that all Content Service Enterprises – a new term to describe those businesses delivering audiovisual material to Australians – be subject to Australian content requirements.

“We wholeheartedly support the application of Australian content rules to all Content Service Enterprises – be it through an expenditure requirement or content fund. However, it is critical that the expenditure requirement percentage be set at a level that ensures higher levels of Australian content.” said Equity director, Simon Whipp.

Before the proposed arrangements are introduced the Convergence Review Committee has recommended a transitional arrangement be put into place, where the existing 55 per cent transmission quota remains on the commercial channels with an increase to the Australian sub-quota obligations.

“Equity has previously called for action to address the dearth of Australian content in the digital multichannel space and welcomes the recommendations to increase the sub-quotas. Research should be entered into to ensure that the increase delivers increased levels of Australian content on the multi-channels.”

“Furthermore, Equity supports proposed additional measures to increase levels of Australian content in a converged future through the tax system including proposals to introduce a 20 per cent tax offset for interactive content and increasing the offset from 20 to 40 per cent for premium television content. In terms of the former this should be subject to stringent Australian content requirements and in terms of the latter we would argue that it should be available to all producers of Australian television content not just particular sections of the industry.”

Public broadcasting is also set to be bolstered if the Convergence Review Committee with respect to the ABC and SBS are introduced.

“Recommending the introduction of a 55% Australia content quota obligation on the ABC is something that the Alliance has been arguing for some time and is in fact in line with the Labor Party’s 2007 yet to be fulfilled election promise. Of course it is important that when introducing this into the ABC charter, and the accompanying 22.5% obligation for SBS, that this be backed up with guaranteed funding to support these levels.”

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