Two weeks ago an ACMA survey of some 1200 Aussies revealed they supported local content in News, Current Affairs and Reality TV but on the whole preferred overseas dramas due to their higher production values.
Now another survey of 1000 Australians by Screen Australia says we support a local industry with Australian stories.
So who is right?
Probably both. It just depends on the way you look at the findings and, significantly, who is issuing it.
It is in Screen Australia’s interests to trumpet the success of the local industry given it is the key investor in our Drama productions.
Screen Australia found that four out of five respondents believed Australian screen stories were vital to Australia’s sense of national identity and one out of five believed that the most important benefit of these stories was to ‘make sure that Australian culture isn’t overwhelmed by American culture’.
I guess they were different to ACMA’s group who seemingly love Hollywood content.? They barely rated Underbelly or Packed to the Rafters.
Screen Australia’s Chief Executive Ruth Harley said, “This new research demonstrates the value Australians place on Australian content and how important our stories are to the cultural fabric of our society. While we acknowledge the tangible economic benefits of the screen industry, we must also acknowledge the myriad of ways that Australian stories contribute to our social belonging and sense of national identity.”
It wasn’t all bad from the ACMA survey. They did support having a strong production industry as a desirable stepping stone for Australian actors and other talent, and important for Australia’s place in a global market. They also worried about online channels having increased access to overseas content.
Rather than disliking local drama they sounded like they wanted better from our shows, to match overseas production values. Which sort of places the ball back into Screen Australia’s court to up the funding budgets in order to give us higher production values. Are you keeping up?
Meanwhile we also have the ongoing Convergence Review and that risk that the government could raise the limits for overseas actors working here.
A delegation of industry heavyweights including Gillian Armstrong, Stephan Elliott and Sigrid Thornton are visiting Canberra today to voice their support for Australian content on Australian screens.
For the record, I fully support the push for local stories told by local voices and I always will…