To: All Federal Members of Parliament
"Keeping Australian stories on TV is vital", keeping Conroy to his word is the battle.
We, the undersigned, wish to express our opposition to the Government’s initial response to the Convergence Review announced by the Minister for Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy, on November 30th, 2012.
Senator Stephen Conroy commissioned an independent review to check how effective our current media and communications laws are in a world of ever evolving technology. Recommendation 18 was the first to be considered, it insisted on a 50 per cent increase in levels of Australian drama, documentaries and children’s television. Recommendation 18 is the first to be ignored.
Senator Conroy says one thing:
“Free-to-air television plays an important part in our lives, and seeing Australian stories told on TV is vital in reflecting and maintaining our Australian identity, character and diversity…
To make sure that we keep being able to watch Australian content, we are taking a number of steps to enable commercial television broadcasters to continue to invest in and broadcast Australian content.”.
Senator Conroy then goes and does another:
Senator Conroy has slashed the fees channels 7, 9 and 10 pay the Government to broadcast “free-to-air” by 50% without cabinet approval, handing them savings of approximately $142 million per year, with absolutely no requirement for investment in Australian stories.
Australian “content” does not mean Australian stories. The proposed requirement for each multi-channel to broadcast minimum hours of Australian content per year, can and will be met by airing news, sport, reality programs and endless repeats of aged sitcoms.
Most alarmingly, the networks have been offered even “greater flexibility” for the existing Australian children’s, drama and documentary television sub-quotas. They will now be able to use their most watched and highest revenue raising main-stations for the sole purpose of showcasing top rating international TV programs, and still meet their minimum requirements by airing Australian stories in the multichannel ghetto. The networks will invest less money in Australian drama and documentary when they shift them to the likes of 7mate, Gem and Eleven.
If these changes are passed by Parliament and become law, they will lead to a severe downturn in the Australian TV drama industry at the cost of hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars to the Australian economy. Of greatest concern are the immeasurable cultural consequences as Australians grow up and grow old seeing less of their stories and hearing less of their voices on our screens.
Worldwide studies show that local television stories bring a wide range of historical events, contemporary issues, and ideas about the future to life. These programs allow local audiences to celebrate their experiences, share their stories, and identify with their fellow citizens in a way that imported drama programs cannot.
We are now calling on all Federal Members of Parliament to:
• Oppose Senator Conroy’s proposed reforms to the commercial television broadcasters licence conditions;
• Urge the Government for meaningful implementation of Recommendation 18 of its own independent Convergence Review; and
• Protect our access to quality Australian stories.
Why is this important?
Without sub-quotas for Australian content both history and overwhelming evidence from other English speaking countries shows us that there will be no local children’s television and very little local drama and documentary broadcast on our television screens.
The proposed changes are being rushed to Parliament for approval in March 2013. The time to act is now!
Need more information?
For answers to frequently ask questions like Why is Australian content so important? What is the Convergence Review? What new rules has the Government introduced? Will the incentive for first-release drama be ineffective? Why are the networks receiving licence fee cuts and don’t they already do enough? Click here http://issuu.com/meaa/docs/australian_content_flyer
What can you do?
Make your voice count and encourage others to do the same:
• Sign your name to this petition and share it with your social media network via Facebook and Twitter using to the links on the right
• Send a "Ghost of Skippy" campaign postcard directly to your local member of parliament. To download an electronic postcard click here http://awg.com.au/images/pdfs/OZContentDLFinalDigital.pdf
Not sure who to send it to? You can search for your local member by name, postcode or electorate via this website: http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Members
Click on their name to find their email details.
• Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AusScreensAusStories
• Follow the campaign on twitter @AusScreens and join the #converg conversation
The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy have conveniently created the #converg hashtag to help them listen to our views. Tell them that you don’t support the government’s decision to give the commercial networks a free ride and let them know that Australian content means the world to us.