AWG Submission to the 'Streaming Services Reporting and Investment Scheme' Discussion Paper
On 6 May 2022, the AWG made a submission to the Streaming Services Reporting and Investment Scheme Discussion Paper.
The AWG argued that the 5 per cent reinvestment obligation proposed under the Streaming Services Reporting and Investment Scheme will not be sufficient to reignite a contracted screen sector, let alone stimulate the growth of a robust and sustainable one, and that it will not address the market failures created by some parts of the industry being subject to regulation while others are not.
Our key positions were:
- Government should introduce regulation that requires eligible streaming-video-on-demand (SVOD) and advertising-video-on-demand (AVOD) services to reinvest 20% of their Australian-sourced revenue into commissioning new Australian content. The proposed rate of 5% in the Discussion Paper is not sufficient for a sustainable screen industry.
- These content reinvestment obligations must specifically include investment in critical genres (such as drama, children’s television and documentary) and minimum hours.
- The proposed reform features an untenable level of ministerial discretion.
- The weakness of the scheme proposed is particularly disappointing given the significant amount of time it has taken to develop.
- We oppose the proposed halving of the subscription television Australian drama obligation. The proposal is without policy justification and is contrary to the recommendations made by the Senate Standing Committee that the Foxtel cuts be withdrawn.
- We recommend that a statutory remuneration scheme is implemented in line with the EU Copyright Directive,1 to protect an important stream of remuneration for Australian screenwriters.
To read our full submission, see here.
AWG Submission on the Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No. 5) Bill 2021
On 10 August 2021, the AWG made a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications regarding the Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No. 5) Bill 2021.
The AWG's submission addressed proposed changes to the Non-feature film Producer Offset rate, the QAPE threshold for the Producer Offset and the ‘Gallipoli clause'.
To read our full submission, see here.
AWG Submission to ‘Modernising television regulation in Australia’ Media Reform Green Paper
On 23 May 2021, the AWG made a submission to the ‘Modernising television regulation in Australia’ Media Reform Green Paper.
The AWG recommended the following:
- Government should introduce regulation that requires eligible streaming-video-on-demand (SVOD) and advertising-video-on-demand (AVOD) services to invest 20% of their Australian-sourced revenue into commissioning new Australian scripted content (including drama, children’s television, documentary).
- Eligibility requirements should be set at 500,000 subscribers or registered users and AU$50 million per annum in Australian revenue.
- In addition to the above, eligible service providers should be subject to genre sub-quotas for drama, children’s television and documentary.
- These sub-quotas must be accompanied by transmission and promotion obligations.
- The public broadcasters should receive an increase in direct funding. The public broadcasters have been left with the sole responsibility of programming vulnerable genres such as children’s television for local audiences and they require further support.
- Regulation of the streaming platforms should be implemented by 1 January 2022 to reignite a contracted sector and cushion the blow from the loss of $100 million of Australian content annually, following the relaxation of quota obligations on the free-to-air broadcasters.
- In relation to the proposed CAST fund, government should ensure that key creatives – such as writers and directors – have a say in the distribution of the fund and implement measures to protect against bureaucratic mismanagement of the fund.
- The government must encourage investment in script development and commit to supporting and retaining local creative talent, including emerging talent.
To read our full submission, see here.
AWG Submission to the Changes to Australian Content and Children's Television Consultation
On 7 December 2020, the AWG made a submission to the ACMA's consultation into changes to Australian Content and Children's Television.
The AWG recommended that:
- The term “commissioned” must be defined in a clear and measurable way which is fit for purpose and we support a threshold contribution of at least 30%of the production budget;
- The “financial contribution” made by licensees towards the production of a “commissioned” program must include a meaningful financial contribution towards the script development of that program, including where the ‘commission’ comes after significant development has already been done. In the absence of investment in development, the draft regulation risks incentivising late commissions, where development had been done, at best, on a shoestring budget and, at worst, ‘on-spec’. By investing in development, licensees can produce high-quality series, which attract the highest level of talent and investment, and allow Australian creators to sell their best work to the world. Financial investment in script development can take the form of reimbursement of writer’s fees for work already undertaken to develop a project of sufficient quality and evolution to take to the marketplace.
- The definition of “Australian program” must include reference to script development and writing by Australian writers. It is locally scripted programs that need market support. Failure to carefully and purposefully address this in the definitions will see public funds increasing profits of foreign owned companies with no meaningful gain for the Australian industry and Australian audiences.
- The requirement that a children’s program is “fully scripted” is retained; and
- The genre allocation of points should incentivise long-running drama series, those being the ones which can see significant return on investment internationally, reach the greatest audiences internationally and sustain an industry with sufficient experience to compete internationally.
To read our full submission, please see AWG submission to Australian Content and Children's Television Consultation.
AWG Submission to Australia’s creative and cultural industries and institutions Inquiry
On 22 October 2020, the AWG made a submission to the 'Australia’s creative and cultural industries and institutions' Inquiry, undertaken by the House Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts.
The submission covered the following:
- The severe negative impact that COVID-19 has had on the screen and theatre sectors, which has been aggravated by recent government policy and funding decisions.
- The significant and well-established economic and non-economic benefits of a strong screen and theatre sector and the critical need for government to address the market failure in the Australian screen industry.
- Appropriate and targeted government intervention that will ensure that the screen and theatre sectors recover from the pandemic and grow, including through:
- Regulation of the streaming-video-on-demand (SVOD) platforms; and
- An increase in direct funding to the public broadcasters tied to commercial and cultural obligations; and
- Transparency and accountability around the recently announced direct funding to Screen Australia and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF); and
- Maintaining the producer offset for feature film at 40% and preserving the Gallipoli clause; and
- An increase in direct funding to the Australia Council tied to playwright and play development and to support independent small and mid-sized theatre companies.
To read our full submission, please see AWG submission to Australia’s creative and cultural industries and institutions inquiry.
AWG submission to the 'Supporting Australian Stories on our Screens Options' Paper
On 2 July 2020, the AWG made a submission to the ‘Supporting Australian stories on our screens’ Options Paper, which proposes a new support framework for Australian stories in a multi-platform environment.
The Options Paper was co-authored by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and Screen Australia, in response to the Government’s request following the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry.
To achieve a robust Australian screen industry, with adequate development, funding and promotion of local content across platforms, the Australian Writers’ Guild recommends the following:
- Introduce clear and accurate legislative definitions of the terms ‘new’, ‘first-release’, ‘commissioned’, ‘scripted’, and ‘Australian content’. In particular, the term ‘scripted’ must be carefully defined to avoid a domination of reality television and light entertainment. Existing definitions for ‘drama’, ‘documentary’ and ‘children’s content’ are fit for purpose and should be preserved.
- Regulate all service providers by requiring them to negotiate tailored content investment plans with ACMA. These investment plans must include a local quota requirement measured in expenditure and hours.
- Preserve local content quotas on free-to-air broadcasters and extend the application of those quotas to all qualifying service providers, including SVOD platforms and the national broadcasters.
- Require qualifying SVOD platforms who fail to meet their local content obligations to reinvest their revenue into a local content development fund.
- Protect children’s content by requiring SVOD platforms to screen first release Australian children’s content if they screen international children’s content.
- Introduce a 10% cultural uplift on the Producer Offset for any production whose creator(s), showrunner, writers and directors are Australian citizens or permanent residents.
To read our full submission, please see the AWG submission to the Supporting Australian Stories on our Screens Option Paper.
Inquiry on Australian Content on Broadcast, Radio and Streaming Services
On 8 February 2018, the AWG made a submission to the Inquiry on Australian Content on Broadcast, Radio and Streaming Services.
The AWG submission argued that the government should, through policy intervention, promote and defend Australian culture by supporting Australian screen content. It submitted that the current regulatory framework is fit for purpose, but that it must be updated to be platform-neutral and to create parity between the commercial broadcasters and online content providers, both foreign and domestic, and these claims were supported through two key arguments.
- First, that there is a cultural imperative to tell Australian stories, and
- Second, that broadcasters economically benefit from the current regulatory framework and that they, in return for the commercial benefits they enjoy, should commit to producing local scripted drama and children’s content, thereby giving back to Australian audiences
To read our full submission, please see AWG submission to the Inquiry on Australian Content on Broadcast, Radio and Streaming Services.
Australian and Children’s Screen Content Review
On 28 September 2017, the AWG made a preliminary submission to the Australian and Children’s Screen Content Review requesting that they consider the following:
- Preserving existing sub-quotas on commercial broadcasters for new Australian scripted drama, children’s content and documentaries;
- Introduce regulation on subscription video on demand (SVOD), online and telecommunication companies which imposes obligations on them to invest in production and showcase new Australian scripted drama and children’s content;
- Increase the Producer Offset for television from 20% to 40% and ensure it is clearly and transparently directed toward its proper purpose of supporting Australian originated screen stories;
- Ensure funding of the ABC and SBS is at a level that enables them to properly support and promote the creation of new Australian scripted drama, children’s content and documentary programming in accordance with their respective charters, and incorporate quotas to ensure clarity and transparency in expenditure or scripted content.
To read our full submission, please see AWG Submission – Australian and Children’s Screen Content Review
Parliamentary Inquiry into the growth and sustainability of the film and television industry
On 9 February 2017, the House Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts announced an inquiry into Factors Contributing to the growth and sustainability of the Australian film and television industry.
On 31 March 2017, the AWG made a preliminary submission to the Committee requesting that the Standing Committee consider the following:
- protecting existing local content quotas for scripted television and making quotas platform neutral; and
- ensuring any future refund of licensing fees to the commercial networks comes with an obligation to spend that money on local scripted content; and
- introducing a tax on new streaming services tied to local content quotas and investment in local scripted television production; and
- increasing the producer’s offset for television from 20% to 40%; and
- rejecting the proposed amendments to the copyright law which threaten the livelihoods of Australian writers and dis-incetivise creation and innovation.
Through consultation and collaboration with the Committee and the current government, the AWG will continue to fight for a stronger and more sustainable film and television industry which enables writers and all those engaged within it (not just the producers who are already supported by Screen Australia and the state funding bodies) to better compete for investment and success on the global stage.
To read our full submission, please see AWG submission – Growth & Sustainability Inquiry 20170331.
Other publicly available submissions can be found at: www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_B...
The Productivity Commission’s public inquiry into Australia’s intellectual property system
In its submission to the Productivity Commission’s public inquiry, the Australian Writers’ Guild said the industry has outgrown the current copyright system, which provides insufficient protection to performance writers. The AWG is calling for copyright reform to enshrine a right to fair remuneration for authors through an inalienable and unwaivable remuneration right to fair remuneration for the success of their work.
Read our submission and follow up to the Commission’s Draft Report below:
AWG-AWGACS submission to Productivity Commission – 30 November 2015
FURTHER SUBMISSION AWG AWGACS – PRODUCTIVITY COMMISSION
More information about the Productivity Commission’s Public Inquiry:
Writers urged to defend copyright
Productivity Commission recommendations could cripple Australia’s creative industries
To read our full submission, please see Australia Council budget cuts 2014-2015
NPEA – MIA, Catalyst in Question; Arts funding back to the future?
AWG response to NPEA Guidelines 2015
Australian Writers’ Guild Submission to Senate Inquiry 2015
AWG Convergence Review Framing Paper 2011