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Oz may scrap protection for local ads

Group argues TV ads part of cultural identity

SYDNEY — The Australian Screen Directors Assn. fears that the Oz government may cave in to pressure from the U.S. to scrap the rule demanding 80% of TV commercials be locally produced.

U.S. negotiators are pressing Oz in free-trade negotiations for an end to local content quotas and film subsidies.

The Oz government is fighting to protect Australia’s cultural identity (Daily Variety, April 3), but ASDA worries that the TV commercial quota is at risk.

“There seems little doubt that when the Americans demand some concession in film and TV that they will be looking for a ‘give,’ ” said ASDA exec director Richard Harris. “And given the attitude of many in the government … I think ads will be front and center in the government’s thinking.”

Harris said U.S. negotiators believe everything is “up for grabs” and that they are looking for vulnerable areas. “One of the areas that they see as most vulnerable is television commercials. This is because the Americans think that they will be able to make an argument that commercials don’t have the same cultural value as other films and TV programs.”

Harris warned that abolishing the commercial quota “would be a calamity on a huge scale for the local production sector.”

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