Australian government poised to introduce local content quotas for streamers

Global streamers such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime will be required to invest in Australian-produced content under new rules set to be introduced in 2024.

In a report first broken by public broadcaster ABC News, it was revealed that Australia’s federal government will insist that leading streamers up their investment in local content from mid-2024. Precise details are still being thrashed out with stakeholders, but the sector has argued for 20% of revenue as a benchmark.

Tony Burke

In some ways, the new rules would just reflect an existing trend, with the main streamers already investing in local content to drive subscription. Last year, for example, the top five streamers, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Paramount+ and Stan (a locally-owned service), spent around A$670 million on Australian and Australian-related programming in a bid to win new subscribers.

The Labour government is keen, however, to put streamers on the same footing as free-to-air networks, which are already subject to local content quotas. Presumably, there is also a fear that, as the initial push for subscribers abates, the streamers might be tempted to fall back on internationally-sourced content to save costs.

The issue of local content quotas has been a live debate for some time in Australia – and not everyone is convinced it is the right approach. Content creators are generally in favour, but commercial broadcaster are concerned that quotas will push up the price of Australian content for free to air networks and mean more homegrown shows end up behind paywalls. There’s also likely to be an issue around rights, with more streamer-backed commissions meaning fewer opportunities for distributors.

Australian Arts Minister Tony Burke is expected to unveil his new policy today (Monday January 30). He made his position clear when he said: “The days of there being no guarantee of Australian content on streaming services have to come to an end.”

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