Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
A delegation of Australian actors, producers, directors and writers is pressing the government to immediately extend local content regulations to the free-to-air commercial networks’ digital multi-channels and to children’s and documentary pay-TV broadcasters, as recommended by a government-commissioned Convergence Review. The proposals would mean the digital FTA channels launched in the past few years would be forced to devote 50% of their air time to first-release Australian adult and children’s drama and docus, as applies to their flagship channels. Children’s and docos pay channels, including those that are U.S.-owned, would be required to spend 10% of their acquisition budgets on first-release Australian programs, the same regulation that applies to pay drama channels. Faced with declining advertising revenues, the commercial FTA broadcasters have told the government they cannot afford to pay for any additional local content and have asked for a further reduction in their license fees. The Cabinet hasn’t made final decisions on the recommendations but has indicated it could introduce legislation before Christmas.