Bryan Brown: Australian stories need streaming service quotas
14 July 2023
Australian actor Bryan Brown, speaking at the National Press Club this week, has joined calls for content quotas to be imposed on shows broadcast by streaming services in Australia. Local content quotas have been on the agenda for some time now, and are something Australian federal arts minister Tony Burke believes are necessary to support the Australian arts sector.
Australians spend billions of dollars on streaming services every year, and Brown thinks some of that money should be invested into stories that are about Australia, not just stories set locally:
What we are saying is that a percentage of that two billion bucks should go back into being stories that are actually about Australia. That are Australian stories, not just stories that are set in Australia with, in the main, American accents. With that extra money that we can get from the streamers, allows us more time to develop, allows us more time to be able to shoot, therefore allows us to make our shows reach the great heights that we want them to be.
In response, Bridget Fair, of FreeTV Australia, an advocate body representing local free-to-air television broadcasters, expressed concerns that quotas could drive up production costs:
The Australian screen sector is booming. With independent data from Screen Australia and the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing that there is more production in this country right now than ever before, the Government needs to be very clear on what problem it is trying to solve. Simply adding fuel to an already raging fire of cost escalation in the production sector will have a significant impact on the ability of Australian broadcasters to continue to deliver the Australian programming that our community relies on.
It’s a hoary old chestnut, but quotas, if not applied correctly, have the potential to back fire. Aiming to have twenty-percent of shows seen on streaming services that are about Australia, made in Australia, is admirable, but not if the results are poor quality stories.