Foxtel wants a level playing field on local content

Jason Pollock
By Jason Pollock | 2 May 2022
Glenn Carstens-Peters via Unsplash

Foxtel, which must invest minimum amounts in local drama, has called for a level playing field in Australia when it comes to production.

Amanda Laing, Foxtel’s chief content and commercial officer, says the platform will continue to take a leadership position in relation to Australian production, but needs equality with streaming services which don't have to invest in local content.

Laing told Screen Forever, a recent Australian screen industry gathering, that the hybrid model that Foxtel employs is part of the company’s success. 

“We’re in a very lucky position where we’ve got our traditional Foxtel IQ, we’ve got our streaming services in Kayo and Binge and Flash and next year, we’ll be the exclusive partner for Sky Glass, a streaming aggregation product.  

“We’ve got the hybrid of both channels and on-demand; streaming and satellite; sports and entertainment; and it's that combination of things which are our strengths.” 

The New Eligible Drama Expenditures (NEDE) scheme, which Foxtel must abide by, mandates that owners of subscription TV licences, and those who run TV drama channels, must put 10% of spending into new local dramas. 

Laing said Foxtel is still the local champion for Australian stories and Australian productions.  

This is despite a potential change to the NEDE scheme requiring only 5% of spending going towards new local dramas.

Subscription TV providers have cut spending on local dramas over the past four years, falling from almost $57 million in 2017-18 to $9 million last year.

“From our perspective, an argument that suggests Foxtel wants to pull back on their investment in Australian production is really not fair and doesn’t reflect what we’ve always done and will continue to do," said Laing.

“In relation to regulation in particular, we think it should be a level playing field. We are the only company with a 10% regulated NEDE obligation ... streamers don’t have that, the free-to-airs don’t have that. The free-to-airs own BVOD platforms and some of them own SVOD platforms.  

“The competition is incredibly intense from the new players coming into the market. We are competing with businesses that spend between $13 billion and $16 billion a year on content and they monetise it globally. We’re holding our own, but we need a level playing field to be able to compete.” 

Laing said Foxtel needs to be able to spend where it chooses so it can have the best impact for its audience.

“It goes against so many principles for there to be this one company that is so heavily regulated when others, with all their different business models, don’t have that same regulated environment," Laing said. 

“It’s great to see momentum from these new entrants coming in, these streamers, saying ‘We should get on board, Australian content seems to be incredibly popular’ - that’s fantastic, but that’s what we’ve been doing for 25 years and we’re going to continue in that leadership position.” 

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