International content producers such as Amazon and Netflix could be forced to invest as much as 20 per cent of the profits they make locally into producing Australian content.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the federal government is actively considering five ways to make global streamers contribute to the local economy by investing more money in Australian content.
One of the ways is by forcing them to dedicate 20 per cent of annual gross subscription revenue to Australian drama, documentaries and children’s programs. Investment in sport or local films would not count towards the quota.
The details were published in a confidential stakeholder consultation paper obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
If the government did decide to impose the 20 per cent quota, this could deliver between $132 million and $528 million in annual local content investment by 2026, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
All of the five proposals outline content obligations of between 5 and 11 per cent and are angled towards protecting “at-risk” content such as documentaries and children’s content. They focus on encouraging streamers to make the content, rather than buying existing local programs.
Currently streaming giants in Australia – unlike commercial free-to-air broadcasters – are under no obligation to produce or even carry Australian content. This is in contrast to the EU, which demands that 30 per cent of titles in streamers’ libraries be from European countries.
According to the papers, the new rules would only apply to streaming giants that have at least $100 million in gross annual subscription revenue or at least one million Australian subscribers.
This would include Netflix, Disney +, Paramount+, Amazon Prime Video, Stan and Binge.
Broadcasters such as Nine, Channel 10 and Foxtel will be able to count commissioned content towards both of its requirements.
The government argues the move will encourage more joint productions between television networks and streamers. It is considering a variety of different solutions – from spending requirements between 5 and 20 per cent of annual gross subscriber revenue to a points-based content system.
A fifth model would see the existing drama expenditure scheme (which regulates Foxtel) expanded to include streamers.
Back in March, Nine CEO Mike Sneesby criticized “well-intended” content restrictions on streamers, saying they could price local players (such as Nine) out of the market.
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