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Australian TV drama production halved in two decades

Australian TV drama production halved in two decades

Prof Amanda Lotz

Full article issued by Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

ARC-supported research led by a team at QUT shows that while more production companies are now making drama series in Australia, they are making substantially fewer than they were in 1999, and foreign conglomerates are taking a bigger share of the drama pie. 

The Australian Television Drama Index report concludes the available drama production work and revenue are increasingly diluted, and that the diminished priority on drama from commercial broadcasters hampers the production of series foremost for Australian viewers.

The report was produced by the Making Australian TV in the 21st Century research team, which is funded by an ARC Discovery Projects grant, and a collaboration between researchers in QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre and the University of the Sunshine Coast. It used data from Screen Australia to review the changing landscape of Australian drama production between 1999 and 2019 and covers drama programs broadcast by free-to-air, subscription, and video-on-demand services.

The report also revealed the extent to which commercial broadcasters’ contribution to Australian drama has diminished.

'More than anything else, it is the decrease in adult drama hours commissioned by commercial broadcasters that reshaped Australian television drama between 1999 and 2019, as broadcasters responded to the audience fragmentation and cost increases from the introduction of multichannel services,' says Professor Amanda Lotz from QUT.

The report also found that although children’s production remains quite level across the 20 years thanks to quota requirements, live-action hours have been well overtaken by animation since 2006.

'Even more concerning, in 2020, the government removed children’s content quotas which is likely to lead to a significant decline in drama production,' says Anna Potter, Associate Professor of creative industries, who is based at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

'We also see that more production companies are creating Australian drama but very few of these companies are sustainable in producing drama alone.'

'We hope our report can be taken into consideration for future policy decisions on the subject,' says Associate Professor Potter.


Image: Professor Amanda Lotz credit: Dr T.J.Thomson.

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