To Quota or Not To Quota? THAT is the question.

This is gonna be a dry one folks but we’ll try to make it as fun as possible.

The ACCC has released the Final Report in its Digital Platforms Inquiry, published on 26 July and there’s hope for quotas flying e. ve. ry. where.

The report acknowledges that virtually no media regulation applies to digital platforms in comparison with some (let’s be real, most) other media businesses and makes 23 recommendations for change, including number 6 - the process to implement harmonised media regulatory framework. 

It suggests that “In contrast to the fragmentary frameworks currently in place, a coherent, platform-neutral legal framework that covers both online and offline delivery of media content to Australian consumers could create significant benefits for consumers and for participants in the Australian media and communications industries.”

We told you it was dry.

People seem to be flying off the rails suggesting that Netflix and YouTube could be forced to produce more Australian content and Australian content kittens are being had everywhere.

We’re excited too! We love the idea of quotas. We want to see more locally made productions and we want it now. The only way to ensure that offshore companies do the right thing by the countries they operate in is to enforce quotas.

But, weren’t we JUST here. In 2017? In 2018? Did we not just read these articles and has everything not changed? 

In 2018 Judy Davis and Richard Roxburgh took to Parliament House calling the Government to introduce quotas on Netflix, requesting to spend a minimum of 10% of their programming on Australian content. It had fallen from a measly 2.5% to and even measlier 1.6% in 2018. Compare this to Free To Air Broadcasters who are obliged by quotas to output 55% Australian content on their primary channels each year. 

We love you Netflix, but this is poor operating. We want to see more great Aussies in great shows and we want to see our local industry thrive!

In 2017, Matthew Deaner, president of Screen Producers Australia, told the Sydney Morning Herald: “We’re at a tipping point, and what the government decides will either grow the industry or decimate it.” And The federal Department of Communications is expected to hand down recommendations by the end of the year. 

That year being 2017. 

Are our hopes and dreams are being toyed with again? Or is 2019 our year?

Poor Paul Fletcher’s comments have been thrown around like bloody hot cakes this week and we sure hope he doesn’t regret anything he said… that shit is everywhere (here’s the Guardian article ICYMI). And now we’re all hanging on his every word and ‘promise’ (vague suggestion). 

He acknowledged on ABC’s Insiders on Sunday that “...the free-to-air networks have an obligation to show a certain amount of Australian content. But streaming platforms like Netflix or YouTube don’t have such obligations, even though they’re capturing a huge number of eyeballs in the Australian market, and in the case of Netflix, substantial revenue.”

But the report itself doesn’t specifically address local content rules. So we’re really just banking on Fletcher when he said this would be included in his regulatory harmonisation recommendation. 

MEAA members will head to Parliament House next month in a renewed push for local content quotas on streaming services according to the most recent MEAA newsletter.

We’re not saying we’re NOT hopeful. Just merely commenting that we may be being stooged again, and we mustn’t stop fighting the good fight to #MakeItAustralian. It’s important to ensure that offshore platforms respect our local stories, stories relevant to you, us and our children. We have not won yet. 

What are your thoughts when it comes to local content quotas? Put them in the comments below!

Alison FowlerComment