Update on the Streaming Services Reporting and Investment Scheme discussion paper
28 April, 2022
Submissions to the ‘Streaming Services Reporting and Investment Scheme’ Discussion Paper were due on 24 April 2022. Many of the issues that the AWG has raised in its submission have been addressed at length in our past submissions including, most recently, to the ‘Modernising television regulation in Australia – Media Reform Green Paper’ [https://awg.com.au/files/documents/210521%20AWG%20Green%20Paper%20Submission.pdf].
The Australian screen industry has waited years for firm Government action on the issue of streamer regulation and the scheme proposed in the Discussion Paper is feeble and disappointing. It is insufficient to lay the foundation for the robust, sustainable and internationally-competitive screen industry that the Government claims to support. The excessive amount of time that has been spent developing this framework has only exacerbated this problem. The policy conversation regarding these issues has been in train for a decade and the need for meaningful regulatory action has been clear for many years.
We call on the Government to consider the following positions:
- Eligible streaming video-on-demand services and advertising video-on-demand services should have to invest 20 per cent of their Australian-sourced revenue in commissioning new Australian scripted content. This will deliver approximately $366 million in Australian content investment annually and drive an additional 10,000 industry jobs. If the Government is committed to promoting the growth and sustainability of the local industry, it must impose a rate of obligation closer to the French and Canadian models.
- Eligibility requirements should be set at 500,000 subscribers or registered users and AU$50 million per annum in Australian revenue. A transparent minimum threshold should govern the eligibility of service providers. Eligibility should not be determined at the Minister’s discretion alone.
- Eligible service providers should be subject to sub-quotas for drama, children’s television and documentary. In October 2020, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts recommended in a report title
Sculpting a National Cultural Plan that streaming services should be required to spend 20 per cent of locally sourced revenue on Australian content and that 20 per cent of that 20 per cent quota should be allocated to local children’s content and drama.
- The ideal quota system is a combination of expenditure and hours. We support a sub-quota of minimum hours to disallow service providers from discharging their obligations by investing huge amounts of money in single, high-budget productions (calculated to entice new subscribers to the service, not necessarily to retain them).
- Drama expenditure requirements for subscription television broadcasters should not be recalibrated. The Government proposed changes to subscription television investment in local content in 2021, but the Senate Committee considering the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (2021 Measures No.1) Bill 2021 recommended the Foxtel cuts be withdrawn and called for the Government to expedite its review of streaming service regulation.