Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney
Australia’s Arts Minister Simon Crean hoped to curry favor with screen producers when he announced a new $A20M ($20.7M) interactive games fund to support global development over the next three years. But attendees at the annual Screen Producers Association of Australia conference were disappointed that Crean gave no commitment to raise the location incentive for big budget film and TV productions from 16.5% to 30%. That’s despite his comment earlier this week that he’d look at hiking the rebate. Execs at major Oz studios including Fox Australia recently warned that Oz won’t attract large-scale international productions unless the credit is lifted to 30%. Crean acknowledged the Oz dollar has appreciated against the greenback by 60% in the past four years but said, “We’re not in a position to change the location offset just yet.” The government is reviewing the incentive as part of a new national cultural policy.
Producers were also miffed that Crean barely mentioned its independent Convergence Review which recommended in March that the government apply the local content quota to free-to-air multi-channels, mandate pay-TV channels invest in Australian children’s programming and documentaries and raise the producer tax offset for TV content from 20% to 40%. Crean noted $470 million in tax rebates had been given to Australian film and TV productions in the last five years and said he thought producers had a strong case to apply the pay-TV quota to docs and kids’ programming. But he hosed down expectations of raising the TV production rebate, saying, “I don’t like its chances because we haven’t been able to get the location offset up at the moment.” However he revealed he’s talking to state governments about jointly creating a fund that would create Australian online content for platforms such as YouTube and iTunes.