Oz producers rally for more drama

Aussies hope to increase low levels of production

The Screen Producers Assn. of Australia took a delegation of top-level producers, including John Edwards (“The Secret Life of Us”), Penny Chapman (“The Road to Coorain”) and Melanie Coombs (“Harvie Krumpet”), to Oz’s political capital Wednesday to rally support for ailing local drama.

The producers met with arts lobby group Friends of the Arts and Federal Minister for Arts and Sports Rod Kemp to set in place measures to pull Oz out of the drama doldrums.

To underline the problem, the SPAA released new figures from survey group Mediametrie that show Australia has one of the lowest levels of locally produced drama worldwide. The percentage of new, locally produced drama in the past 12 months is 9.1%, compared to 30.8% in France, 48.6% in Italy, 82.5% in Blighty and 94.4% Stateside.

“It’s time that the industry, in conjunction with the government, developed creative, cost-effective strategies to get Oz film and television production back on track,” said SPAA topper Geoff Brown, part of the delegation.

The SPAA collective is pushing four main points: protecting program diversity in the event that media ownership laws change; regulating the way commercial free-to-air broadcasters do business in a similar fashion to Blighty’s media regulator Ofcom; establishing an Australian drama development fund to encourage more local content; and making pubcaster ABC conform to commercial local content rules.

The SPAA move coincides with a push by the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance to boost local content on the ABC and an independent review of ABC funding by accounting firm KPMG. Outcome of the KPMG review will be considered in determining the ABC’s 2006-07 budget.

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