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Australia to change regulation for children’s TV drama

Australia could lose protection over the amount of children’s drama shown on television, and digital platforms such as YouTube could be forced to subsidise local content in a major overhaul of media regulations. 

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the interim report of the federal government’s Convergence Review – which will result in new rules for TV, radio and some internet sites – recommends a minimum level of local content based on a ”percentage of expenditure” formula. But it is uncertain whether children’s drama will be compulsory under the new system.

Of the top 20 children’s television shows, only four are made locally. Australia is the only country that imposes quotas on children’s drama, requiring commercial channels to screen 96 hours of local, first-run programmes over three years.

The system was introduced in 1984 to counter the glut of American cartoons and sitcoms in the after-school timeslot. Since then, there have been many critically acclaimed series with a global audience, but the commercial networks – Seven, Nine and Ten – now argue that the quotas are outdated.

A senior source from one network told the Sydney Morning Herald: ”If you look at the three commercial stations, none of them goes a minute over their children’s quotas because there’s absolutely no market for it. The networks also oppose children’s quotas because of the associated limits on advertising and news flashes.

A Convergence Review spokesman did not confirm whether children’s content would be made compulsory, saying the final report, due in three weeks, would specify this.