Coalition to host streaming giants at roundtable as content quota squeeze nears

Former communications minister Paul Fletcher has hit out at the federal government’s proposal to introduce quotas that would force streaming giants Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ to make a certain amount of Australian shows and films, claiming such a move does not consider broader media policy objectives.

Federal Arts minister Tony Burke confirmed last week he planned to impose content quotas on international streaming platforms, putting an end to a two-year debate between the production, streaming, and media sectors.

Fletcher, now shadow arts spokesman, and Senator Sarah Henderson, shadow communications spokesperson, will host a roundtable with streaming platforms on Monday to discuss issues related to the proposal, which could force them to spend up to 20 percent of locally generated revenue on content.

Streaming services would be required to spend a portion of local revenue on making Australian shows under the proposed rules.Credit:Paul Rovere

“The issue of Australian content quotas for [streaming services] must be determined as part of a consistent approach to Australian media policy, weighing up all relevant factors including the interests of the Australian production sector, the sustainability of [streaming] services and competitive neutrality between different parts of the media sector,” Fletcher and Henderson said in a joint statement.

“At the moment the Arts Minister is doing all the talking and there is no evidence that the broader media policy considerations are being weighed up appropriately.”

Minister Burke said last week at the 55th annual Australian Writers’ Guild AWGIE Awards that he had informed streaming services of his decision.

“While we haven’t made the decision in government with exactly how to define it, and that part of the consultation is still happening, I have met with the streaming companies only the other day … I think you should always deliver the news in person,” Burke said. “[I told them] we haven’t settled on the design but be in no doubt, Australian content quotas, including for scripted dramas, are coming to this country.”

In Fletcher’s time as communications minister, he ran consultations to work out the best way to ensure there was an ongoing investment in local content. Before the federal election, he announced plans to create an investment scheme, which was an attempt to incentivise global streaming services to spend money on local shows.

Under the scheme, Netflix and Amazon Prime would face a legislative requirement to report to the Australian Communications and Media Authority annually on their expenditure on and provision of local content. If they had spent less than five percent of Australian revenue on local content, the Minister legally impose an Australian content spending obligation on the service.

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