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Spada calls for swift and decisive action by Government to save local content

16 Apr 2024 15:12 | Anonymous

New Zealand's screen producers' guild Spada has called for swift and decisive action from the Government as the domestic screen industry faces a major crisis, with the country's two main television networks - TVNZ and Warner Bros Discovery NZ (Three) - making dramatic cutbacks to their spend on local production because of falling advertising revenue.

Spada President Irene Gardiner said, “We acknowledge our friends and colleagues in news and current affairs who are impacted by the broadcaster cutbacks and, understandably, it’s the newsroom cuts that have dominated media coverage to date, but it is actually the whole production sector being impacted.

"While TVNZ and Three aren't giving definitive numbers at this time, Spada has calculated that we are looking at around $50 million coming out of our sector. Ironically it is our big popular shows that will be most vulnerable - as they are what has traditionally been fully funded by advertising revenue. This creates uncertainty around the future of favourite series like Shortland Street, Celebrity Treasure Island, The Traitors NZ, Married at First Sight NZ, food shows, home shows, and more."

Gardiner said Spada had been calling for Government regulation of international streamers for some time now. "These large multinationals need to contribute to the local production industry in some way, to alleviate the market distortion they have created. This regulation is now urgent. The impact of the streamers, along with Facebook, Google and YouTube, on advertising revenue has been devastating, and has now hit a crisis point."

Spada is also asking Government to exempt screen funding agencies from the across the board 7.5% Ministry cuts. "Taking money out of NZ On Air and our other funding agencies at this time would compound the problems created by the collapse of advertising revenue," said Gardiner.

"Times are hard for everyone right now, but the Government, the sector and New Zealanders need to understand local production is at a pivotal point in time. We are not just another business. We represent the New Zealand voice - the cultural impact of us not seeing ourselves on our screens, of us not creating our own stories, will be profound, particularly at a time of social change and division."

Gardiner said there were also strong economic reasons for Government to invest in the local screen sector. "If we can keep the domestic part of the screen industry strong, we can build on the momentum we have been building up in international co-productions and sales. This is an area that makes 10s of millions in export dollars. We also need a strong domestic sector to feed and support our big money-making international sector. The screen sector is a 3.5 billion dollar industry for New Zealand, and local production is a vital part of that."

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