SYDNEY — The Screen Producers Assn. of Australia has accused the Nine Network of neglecting local drama by purchasing Kiwi skein “Outrageous Fortune” to help it meet its annual minimum drama quota.
All Aussie free webs must show a minimum amount of local drama, which is governed by a points system, depending on the format and the length of the skein. Kiwi skeins can be counted, although in the past such moves were not necessary.
“It’s a cynical act of self-interest,” said producers association topper Geoff Brown. “They have taken the provocative step of showing a 13-part Kiwi series in an off-ratings period at 10:30 p.m. to count toward their Australian Content Standard quota. What’s more, this show has been funded by New Zealand taxpayers through one of their government funding programs.”
Org has called on Nine topper Eddie McGuire to explain the move.
The drama question has been a heated one for the past few years, as homegrown dramas have failed to ignite local auds, leading to some of the lowest TV drama output in years.
Producers org is calling on the web to invest in local skeins, but also takes issue with “Fortune’s” timeslot, saying it’s the latest time a new drama has ever bowed.
“This fact alone suggests that Nine don’t much care whether they get an audience or not, as long as they fulfill their quota as cheaply as they can,” Brown said.
None of this bodes well for Aussie drama. Nine owner James Packer has already threatened to lobby against Australian content quotas in a recent speech. Aussie content requirements were introduced in 1961 to promote the role of commercial TV in reflecting a sense of Australian identity.