Networks prop up summer with NZ content

By David Knox on January 4, 2013 / Filed Under News, Top Stories 27

2013-01-03_1813EXCLUSIVE: Aussie summer TV is quickly turning into a ‘New Zealand summer’ with networks turning to the land of the long white cloud as a way of gaining quota points in Drama and Documentary.

Seven and TEN are the biggest broadcasters of NZ content this summer, with shows able to attract local quota points due to the Closer Economic Relations Treaty (CER) between Australia and NZ.

But the Screen Producer’s Association of Australia is calling on the media watchdog to take a tougher line on the practice.

Seven has been screening Border Patrol NZ, Coastwatch, Wild Vets, Motorway Patrol and SCU: Serious Crash Unit, while TEN has aired Go Girls, The Almighty Johnsons and next week kicks off comedy series Golden (pictured).

TEN’s own publicity synopsis for Golden says, “She was the nation’s golden girl, with the medals to prove it. Now, The Games are on the horizon, and the big question is: Where is Shelley Bowman?”

The comedy about a fictitious NZ athlete ahead of the ‘upcoming’ Olympics stars Lucy Schmidt, but TEN hasn’t even bothered to amend a dated synopsis clearly drafted for the Kiwi market….

Networks are strategically scheduling the NZ content during summer, knowing the shows would struggle in ratings. Yet they accrue the same value in quota points during the off-peak season as they do during ratings.

Australian drama can cost upwards of $500,000 per hour, but NZ programs can be acquired for less than $50,000 an hour.

Matthew Deaner, Executive Director of the Screen Producer’s Association told TV Tonight, the Australian Communications and Media Authority should amend its eligibility rules for sub-quota points to prevent the practice.

“We understand that broadcasters are corporate entities motivated by their bottom line.  But the protections they receive and access to audiences through publicly owned spectrum create a quid pro quo to invest in Australian content and deliver to Australian audiences,” he said.

“While big numbers are thrown around talking up overall dollars spent on Australian content, it is the drama, children’s and some documentary sub-quotas that continue to be hard and difficult investments for the broadcasters which are only achieved through regulation.

“To substitute cheap imported NZ drama for original new Australian drama is a worrying trend and it doesn’t come anywhere close to fulfilling obligations to Australian content and to Australian audiences.  It’s time for the ACMA to have a good look into this.”

ACMA has itself raised concerns about the practice.

Chairman Chris Chapman has previously said “…the ACMA notes that the amount of New Zealand drama programming claimed as first release Australian drama quota has been increasing. The Australia and New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement requires that New Zealand television programs are treated as Australian programs, and are treated accordingly by the ACMA.”

In 2011 TEN screened 33.3% NZ drama, Nine played 10.1% NZ drama, and Seven had nearly 35% NZ first-release documentaries.

Golden begins 10:30pm Monday 7th January on TEN.

27 Comments »

  1. cynical old codger January 9, 2013 at 12:16 am -

    “Golden” Is this NZTV at its best or absolute worst? , or is this only the the begining of ” Paul Henry” inflicting the ‘Ultimate’ revenge upon the viewers who have now returned to watching Ten, because we no longer suffer from the “Henry Cringe Factor”?

  2. David Knox January 9, 2013 at 12:02 am -

    In their defence they have affirmed a commitment to indigenous broadcasting from other regions, and they are not subject to the same points system anyway.

  3. mc January 8, 2013 at 11:07 pm -

    Another channel that loves it’s Kiwi content is NITV. Apparently Maoris and Native Americans are indigenous to a country somewhere, so programming featuring them can appear extensively on NITV in prime time.

  4. Menicci January 8, 2013 at 12:26 am -

    I am probably posting too late to matter (been away at the beach, lucky me), but the thing I love most about summer is all the NZ tv. I am a proud Aussie but think the Kiwis make the best shows. Like many others I loved Outrageous Fortune but when it was on it was treated dreadfully and I ended up buying the final season from New Zealand because I got sick of waiting for it to air. Aside from OF I love Go Girls, Almighty Johnsons, Nothing Trivial (waiting/hoping Nine will air season two of this over the summer). Then going back a bit there’s Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby and The Insiders guide to love and The Insiders guide to Happiness. I don’t dispute that classing NZ TV as Aussie TV is wrong but I think people should be open the the idea of watching it because although it’s different in my opinion different often means better.

  5. Goatracer January 5, 2013 at 8:21 pm -

    Leo I think the word you may have been looking for is “Inferior”,but I will go with your original out of context (Superior) and say that as an Aussie I love most of these Kiwi shows and The Kiwi sense of humor (Seemingly a little sicker) is right up my alley.
    The Outrageous Fortune/Go Girl team is brilliant and I consider the Outrageous Fortune series to be one of the best Australasian productions ever.

  6. David Knox January 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm -

    NZ has certainly made some top shows, Outrageous Fortune being chief amongst them. But the issue is more a matter of their shows being passed off as local content at the expense of Australian production, compounded by networks slipping them under the radar during the off season.

  7. Leo January 5, 2013 at 12:14 pm -

    As a kiwi (& soon to become an Australian citizen after 13 years of living in Australia) I am quite angry that NZ programs are considered to be in superior to the Australian shows, which is so far off the mark.
    NZ embrace so many Australian shows like Home & Away, Neighbours, Packed To The Rafters etc but the love is not returned.
    NZ has produced some amazing shows over the years incl Outrageous Fortune, Go Girls – even their nightly soap Shortland St has been going for over 20 years.
    They aren’t too afraid to try new concepts especially with their reality & factual shows & when they screen a show they follow through with it & don’t yank it off mid season (I’ve noticed they do this for all shows, they don’t seem to be obsessed as much with ratings there unlike our networks).
    Give NZ shows a go everyone, for a little country they do some amazing tv, they are always supporting Australian shows so we should return the favour & show a bit of support!

  8. timmydownawell January 4, 2013 at 11:14 pm -

    @Dave – they did produce an Australian version of SCU but it only lasted one season. But I suppose that only supports the argument “why produce when you can buy from NZ for a fraction of the price”. At the end of the day does it matter to viewers if a car crash is in Auckland or Sydney? If you ask me the Australian content quotas are ridiculously high. Australians know their country, their culture. Does it need to be so all pervading? Are we really so insecure?

  9. timmydownawell January 4, 2013 at 8:51 pm -

    @idiotbox, yes, I remember someone here once referring to that show as “NZ’s Next Average Looking Girl”

  10. CM January 4, 2013 at 8:07 pm -

    I hope that ACMA can do something about this issue. Why the CER trade agreement insists that New Zealand content be regarded as Australian content is beyond me. I find the NZ reality shows even more banal than the Australian versions, I guess because they don’t reflect Australia at all. The quality of the NZ programs currently being shown in Australia isn’t very good-perhaps their better productions haven’t been shown here yet. Either way, their productions shouldn’t be regarded as Australian and vice versa.

  11. Dave January 4, 2013 at 7:51 pm -

    IMO NZ do some great reality cop shows. Motorway patrol and SCU are brilliant shows. Australian producers could learn a thing or 2 from NZ

  12. timmydownawell January 4, 2013 at 7:13 pm -

    Meh, usual beat-up. NZ makes good quality observational programmes and let’s face it is it really any different if it’s made in NZ than if it was made in SA or Tassie? As others have noted, NZ airs a shitload of Aussie TV that they probably paid a pittance for (i.e. much less than it cost to produce) as well. So it works both ways.

  13. idiotbox January 4, 2013 at 5:54 pm -

    One of the funniest shows on TV is a Kiwi import called “New Zealand’s Next Top Model” screened on 11 on Friday nights around 1030pm.
    The show is hilarious to watch for how bad it is. The way it’s shot, the set, the lighting, the hosts taking it all so seriously and what passes in NZ as a model are so bad it’s funny. I’ve seen better made shows on Channel 31.
    Ten’s been sitting on a gold mine with this one all year but have buried it on 11 late on Friday nights. As Molly would say, do yourself a favour and watch for huge belly laughs at our NZ neighbours expense.

  14. effdee January 4, 2013 at 4:39 pm -

    I don’t care where a program is made, if it’s good to watch I’ll watch it…

  15. Muscledude January 4, 2013 at 4:04 pm -

    Australia has a free trade agreement with the US and China as well. Do American and Chinese shows also count as “local content”?

  16. nik c January 4, 2013 at 1:56 pm -

    I don’t have an issue with NZ content, but it shouldn’t count for Aussie content!!

  17. h.lua January 4, 2013 at 12:05 pm -

    its reverse in new zealand if it aint a movie its an australian programme, currently the block is now screening 5 nights a week up from 3 episodes from november and december 2012, thrs also rove LA hamish and andy and a few more even better homes and gardens has been on more often, hot seat, deal or no deal, and more

  18. NicH January 4, 2013 at 12:04 pm -

    When I first read they headline, I thought it said “Networks ‘Poop’ up Summer with NZ Content”. Then I though, am I really that wrong?

  19. User January 4, 2013 at 10:28 am -

    Of course to fair on 10, get no quota points for screening 48 weeks of Neighbours over on 11. These shows would be lucky to screen on a secondary channel if Neighbours was properly counted

  20. tvf January 4, 2013 at 10:08 am -

    Just typical of the networks. They have no problem not showing shows that interest the public such as drop dead diva because they may not rate highly but more than happy to take a ratings hit on NZ content because they get something out of it. Then they wonder why they can’t keep viewers.

    The content during the summer is getting worse every year. If it wasn’t for the tennis and the cricket, the tv would barely get turned on.

  21. Beckala January 4, 2013 at 9:50 am -

    David, doesn’t the NZ Motorway Patrol air on 9?

  22. Andrew Mercado January 4, 2013 at 9:36 am -

    About time this got looked into. If FTA networks don’t think NZ shows will rate they shouldn’t be able to claim quota points during a non rating period. And perhaps the Australian Film Industry should also consider that most local movies also end up in weekend graveyard slots over Xmas. It’s all just a cynical end of year grab to pretend they are doing the right thing yet it shows zero regard for any actual audience.

  23. HardcorePrawn January 4, 2013 at 9:34 am -

    Similarly, I’ve noticed the commercial networks screening a few Australian films, usually cheaply made movies that flopped, late at night too.

    All in all, these are quite nefarious tactics for them to get around financing and screening locally produced content.

  24. Pertinax January 4, 2013 at 9:24 am -

    Then again the ACMA scheme refuses to count Neighbours as Australian Drama because it is on a secondary channel.

    The SPA has successfully lobbied for higher local content and drama quotas to the point where the networks can only economically meet them with cheap NZ content. So what do they expect will happen?

    The ratings for PB, Tricky Business, The Straits etc. demonstrate that just making more Australian Drama to serve producers is not what viewers want.

    The SPA and the Government have already tried block NZ TV and the High Court said that it is illegal. So unless we revoke the FTA there is nothing the ACMA, the Government or anyone can do about it.

  25. TasTVcameraman January 4, 2013 at 6:37 am -

    NZ reality is not Australian reality. Highway Patrol is streets ahead of the NZ cheap import.
    If I commence watching it does not take long for me to realise that is NZ and quickly turn off. SEVEN is the worst, why not play some of the shows that you have had for years, City Homicide.. But please give “Heartbeat” a break we have just seen 18 seasons and then to start again and then jump to series 8 for a few shows. Give us a break and either start from Season one then if my maths is correct season two follows, not season 8. Give it a break for at least four years, then reshow it.There are shows like “Distant Shores” we are waiting for series 2, We have not seen Nick Berry with “Harbourmaster’ here, so why flog a dead horse ?

    TEN has a perfect series for re runs in “Rush”.
    Maybe they are keeping it for a couyple of years before re running it ?

    Nine how about “Dallas” from the start of the old seies you have 16 seasons if you start at the start.

  26. Bogues January 4, 2013 at 6:20 am -

    On holiday in New Zealand at the moment, and we are watching an ‘Australian Summer’ here. Last night alone, we had Border Security, Airlines, Hamish and Andy (caravan tour) and The Block.

  27. JoshS January 4, 2013 at 5:13 am -

    This is wrong. Last time I checked, New Zealand is a different country and as such their content should be classified as different.

    The fact that its mostly reality rubbish reflects badly on kiwi tv. That’s a shame because they also had Outrageous Fortune which was excellent.

    Show the content if you must, but the networks shouldn’t be getting quota for it.

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