Published on Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Screen Australia has welcomed a $13 million direct budget injection package over four years and a comprehensive group of Producer Offset reforms, announced in last night’s budget.
|The major changes include a direct injection of funds to Screen Australia for low-budget documentaries and lowering the threshold for Producer Offset eligibility from $1 million to $500,000 for feature films and single-episode dramas.
The Producer Offset has provided over $320 million in Government support to the industry since its introduction in 2007.
The Producer Offset has proven to be a successful stimulus for domestic film and television production, especially in difficult financial times. Leading up to the Government’s 2010 Review of the Independent Screen Production Sector, Screen Australia consulted with stakeholders to identify opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Producer Offset.
The budget announcement has implemented most of Screen Australia’s recommendations including replacement of the Producer Offset for low-budget documentaries with a more accessible and efficient Producer Equity payment administered by Screen Australia, funded through an additional appropriation of $2–3 million per annum. A reduction in QAPE thresholds has also been incorporated, encouraging innovative and entrepreneurial Australian content on multiple platforms. Converting the 65 episode cap to 65 commercial hours for television, as well, should benefit children’s programming. Documentaries will also be exempted from the 20% above-the-line cap. A broader range of expenses will be eligible for Qualifying Australian Production Expenditure including production insurances, completion guarantees, legal, audit and company fees, additional publicity and marketing costs, some distribution costs and carbon offsets.
“In what is clearly a tough budget the screen sector should take some comfort from these measures that are designed to invest more money on screen rather than on administration or compliance,” Screen Australia’s Chair, Glen Boreham said. “In further recognition of the need for informed debate and evidence-based public policy settings the Government has provided Screen Australia with funds to re-instate the Australian Bureau of Statistics screen industry survey.”
The survey is an important source of information on key business indicators such as income, expenditure, profit margin and employment for the entire Australian audiovisual industry. It has not been conducted since 2006/07, prior to the introduction of the Government’s Australian Screen Media Support Package in 2007/08. Screen Australia also welcomes the Government’s decision to increase the Post Digital and Visual Effects Offset to 30%. This measure will make Australia more competitive in the Post Digital and VFX marketplace.
Screen Australia will explain the budget measures in industry forums over the next few weeks, including:
Melbourne, 5pm, Wednesday 18 May, ACMI Studio One
Sydney, 3.30pm, Friday 20 May, Dendy Opera Quays