Broadcasters pushed to air home-grown fare

SYDNEY — As Australia rolls out digital channels and online catch-up services, the Aussie government has made a move to preserve local content in the new-media age.

Broadband minister Stephen Conroy announced Sunday that commercial broadcasters would be offered license fee rebates of 33% this year, rising to 50% next year, so that money can be put toward local skeins.

“Commercial television broadcasters will require some assistance to maintain Australian content production while investing in a new delivery platform nationally,” Conroy said.

He also acknowledged the pain caused by the global financial crisis.

Julie Flynn, topper of industry org Free TV, welcomed the move, saying that local hits such as “Packed to the Rafters,” “Underbelly” and “MasterChef Australia” proved the networks produce strong relevant content, but she called for a further looked at Aussie license fees, some of the most expensive in the world.

“It is clear that as we move to a converged media environment, the basis for the old system of license fees needs to be reviewed,” Flynn said. “The existing system has been in place since 1964 and has not been reviewed since 1987.”

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