ACMA last week released its ‘Content Compliance report for 2009’, which tracks Australia content, drama, documentaries and children’s television for Seven, Nine (PBL stations) and TEN.
It found all three networks met minimum requirements for all genres, and exceeded them, which is good news.
The three networks are required to reach 250 points for first release Australian drama, a complex formula made up of different points awarded for Telemovies, Miniseries, Feature Films, Series, and Serials. While a Telemovie such as The Killing of Caroline Byrne gets 4 points, an episode of Home and Away is just 1.
Looking at the way networks exploit the points is an interesting exercise.
It shows Seven played 220 hours for 387 points. Nine, on the other hand played, played just 80 hours of Drama for 300 points.
Nine astutely relied more on Feature Films (4 points) and Miniseries (4 points) than the Series (2.5 points) that dominated Seven’s Drama.
Seven lead the year in first release Australian drama with 220 hours, well ahead of TEN’s 181 hours (including NZ drama) and Nine’s 80 hours (including films and NZ drama).
In recent years Nine has also played many of its Feature Films in summer, frequently late on Saturday nights, because points are awarded for primetime regardless of ratings seasons. Last year it showed films such as Clubland, Jindabyne, Jammed, Irresistable, and Razzle Dazzle. Its first run Series included McLeod’s Daughters, Monster House, while Underbelly, Sea Patrol, Rescue Special Ops all qualify as MiniSeries. 6% of its Drama points were from NZ: Burying Brian.
In contrast Seven dramas Packed to the Rafters, All Saints, City Homicide all qualify as Series. Home and Away as a Serial earns 1 pt per episode. In Drama Seven had no NZ content or films.
TEN dramas Rush and NZ content Orange Roughies, Go Girls, The Hothouse, Outrageous Fortune were all Series, while A Model Daughter: The Killing of Caroline Byrne qualifies as Telemovie, with Neighbours and Out of the Blue as Serial. 20% of its Drama points were from NZ content. There were no films.
Geoff Brown Executive Director of the Screen Producer’s Association of Australia recently told TV Tonight that NZ drama was being bought on the cheap.
“The fact is the networks are being cynical. They’re buying this stuff cheap, they’re programming and scheduling it late at night, they’re doing it just make points,” he said.
The 2009 figures below indicate that of the three networks, Seven was still the leader in generating Australian content, Australian drama, Australian documentaries and Australian children’s television -but was also the biggest buyer of NZ content.
LOCAL CONTENT (55% minimum to be aired between 6am and midnight):
Seven 65% (64% in 2008)
Nine 62% (60% in 2008)
TEN 57% (56% in 2008)
FIRST RELEASE AUSTRALIAN DRAMA (Minimum score 250 points):
Seven 387 (276)
Nine 300 (286)
TEN 265 (268)
FIRST RELEASE AUSTRALIAN DRAMA (Hrs no minimum)
Seven 220 (173)
Nine 80 (76)
TEN 181 (170)
FIRST RELEASE AUSTRALIAN DOCUMENTARIES (minimum 20 hours):
Seven 113 (82)
Nine 47 (43)
TEN 38 (24)
FIRST RELEASE AUSTRALIAN C DRAMA (Kids: minimum requirement 25 hrs)
Seven 85 hrs (31 hrs)
Nine 17 hrs (31 hrs)
TEN 41 hrs (7 hrs)