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.