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‘Cheap imports killing Australian TV productions’

Thursday 25 Aug 2011
Australians are watching less home-made television as networks favour cheaper foreign productions over dearer local content, The Australian reports.

The proportion of Australian content screened has fallen from 52 percent to 38 percent, according to a report released today by Screen Australia.

Since 2008, foreign content has increased by 154 percent while Australian content has grown by only 59 percent.

“In the multi-channel environment, Australian content is being drowned in a sea of foreign content,” said Fiona Cameron, Chief Operating Officer of Screen Australia.

The Convergence 2011 report says the dilution of Australian content will hurt the overall viability of the Australian television industry.

Screen Australia also argues the Australian television sector is experiencing “market failure” because US content-makers are able to sell their product more cheaply, as they have already recouped their costs broadcasting in their domestic market.

“A Two And a Half Men will cost an Australian broadcaster A$100,000 (US$105,000) and an Underbelly will cost between A$700,000 and A$900,000 (US$733,000 and US$942,000) per hour of content,” she said.

The report says that, per hour, Australian drama and children’s television are the most expensive local content to produce, followed by documentaries and comedy.

Free TV Australia, which represents all the major free-to-air TV networks, has raised questions over the methodology behind the Screen Australia report, saying it focuses too heavily on the impact of digital multi-channels while failing to address the challenges posed by growing use of Internet Protocol TV (IPTV).