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Inaccurate Picture of NZ Drama in Australalia

19 December 2006

Inaccurate Picture of New Zealand Drama on Australian Screens

-For immediate release-

The Screen Production and Development Association (SPADA) believes that the record needs to be set straight on the status of New Zealand drama on Australian screens.

“Australian criticism of Nine Network purchasing, screening and trying to claim episodes of the South Pacific Pictures’ drama Outrageous Fortune as part of Nine’s Australian Content Standard obligations is of real concern to New Zealand producers,” says SPADA CEO, Penelope Borland.

“Offshore sales of New Zealand programmes are vital to the sustainability and growth of the New Zealand industry. This criticism is also somewhat ironic as there are many Australian programmes purchased by New Zealand networks and screened here.”

Proceeds from sales to Australia and other countries by New Zealand production houses generally go back into the development of new New Zealand programmes and also create more work for members of the New Zealand industry.

“The assertion that NZ On Air funding is a ‘subsidy’ and therefore should not be used to meet local content requirements in Australia is not factual. It is incorrect to characterise NZ On Air funding as a subsidy as it is no different to the investment provided in Australia for development and production of drama programmes. Producers must apply for the funding and NZ On Air requires a financial return,” says Ms. Borland.

Producers apply to the agency for production financing (or development), and upon approval of their funding application the producer enters into a contractual relationship with NZ On Air; stipulating negotiated terms and conditions for repayment of the production finance involved and a negotiated percentage of return on income. This is very similar to the process followed by Australian producers when applying for funds from the Film Finance Corporation.

New Zealand made shows qualify as Australian content under CER and, following the 1997 High Court decision, New Zealand made shows are legally classed as Australian. “That decision has now been binding for ten years,” says Ms Borland.

“The recent criticism paints a misleading picture of what actually happens in New Zealand and the position of New Zealand producers and our local industry vis-a-vis our Australian counterparts.

“New Zealand doesn't have a local content quota for New Zealand made programmes. There are voluntary targets in place that can fluctuate from year to year which means that the environment in New Zealand is much more uncertain for producers. In other countries that do have a local content quota, such as Australia, the quota itself acts as a form of ‘subsidy’ as broadcasters have to fulfil their local content quota under the terms of their licence. So New Zealand programme makers have an inherent disadvantage in their own market.

Outrageous Fortune is not the first New Zealand drama series to screen on Australian networks. Insiders Guide to Happiness (Series 1 and 2) has sold to SBS TV and Australia Network. Outrageous Fortune has also been sold to Australia Network. Insiders Guide to Happiness (Series 1 and 2) has sold to SBS TV and Australia Network.

SPADA represents New Zealand’s film and television producers and senior industry professionals. It has over 350 members and works to represent and strengthen the New Zealand independent screen industry on both a local and international level.


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