Sunday, November 20, 2022

Tony Burke: The other reason Amazon is bringing Neighbours back

The wide-reaching legacy of former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam is being celebrated across the country even in 2022.

One of the initiatives that Whitlam implemented in his short term was the beginning of Double Jay JJ in 1975, a radio station that would appeal to Australia's youth. 

Remembering Gough Whitlam: the man who gave Double J life

Peter WC and I were fortunate to share many coffees with Kevin Jacobsen and learned about the entertainment scene in Australia … there are not many people as entertaining and egalitarian as Kevin. Like Patricia Azarias and Johno Johnson, Kevin shared many stories about Gough. Once he told us how they approached Gough about implementing quotas in radio and television as streaming was not born yet in 1970s. Kevin with his brother are behind the name of the radio as he first labeled it double J in 1970s and the music station was born in order to promote Aussie talent.

It’s a human tendency to believe in miracles and  Kevin often performs them. 

Kevin opened doors for Lou’s talented daughter in the LA US.

However, even Kevin  did not perform mighty miracle to turn Cold River into a streaming creation ;-) 

Kevin Jacobsen

Can Tony Burke be the bandleader on IR and Labor frontman one day?

The other reason Amazon is bringing Neighbours back

Edmund TadrosMedia and marketing reporter

The federal government has confirmed it will introduce Australian content quotas for streaming services that mandate they spend a certain amount each year on local shows and films.

International streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ do not currently have local content requirements, unlike the free-to-air broadcasters Seven, Nine and Ten and pay TV operator Foxtel.

It’s back... Neighbours will be resurrected, thanks to a deal with Streaming giant Amazon.  

Federal Arts Minister Tony Burke confirmed the move at the 55th annual Australian Writers’ Guild AWGIE Awards on Thursday night, telling the audience he had already informed the streaming companies of his decision.

“While we haven’t made the decision in government with exactly how to define it, and that part of the consultation is still happening, I have met with the streaming companies only the other day ... I think you should always deliver the news in person,” Mr Burke told the crowd.

“[I told them] we haven’t settled on the design but be in no doubt, Australian content quotas, including for scripted dramas, are coming to this country.”

Applause from writers

The crowd, mainly made up of screen and stage writers, responded to the news with enthusiastic applause.

Mr Burke had earlier described how important it was for Australian stories to be told on screen and highlighted the key role screenwriters played in ensuring this happened.

In a related development, the recently cancelled TV drama Neighbours will return to the small screen after producer Fremantle signed up Amazon streaming services as international partners. Network Ten will retain first-run broadcast rights in Australia.

Federal Arts Minister Tony Burke at the annual Australian Writers’ Guild AWGIE Awards on Thursday night. 

Australian screenwriters, directors, producers and crew have been pushing for subscription streaming services to be forced to invest 20 per cent of locally-generated revenue into local content.

However, the streaming services and local commercial broadcasters oppose such a move, saying there is already a high level of investment in local scripted drama and any new government rules would increase production costs that are already running high.

Amazon Prime, Disney, Netflix, and Stan spent $179 million on Australian programs in fiscal 2021, according the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Jump in spending

The confirmation that the federal government will legislate in the area comes after Screen Australia reported a big jump in spending on Australian drama by pay TV and subscription streaming services.

The funding body’s annual report, released last week, found the spending on pay TV and subscription streaming titles increased almost to $445 million in fiscal 2022.

The pay TV and streaming services put 29 scripted dramas into production for streaming services in 2021-22, compared to the free-to-air broadcasters with 24 shows.

Stan had seven shows in fiscal 2022, while Paramount+ (owned by Paramount which also owns Ten), Netflix, and Amazon Prime had four shows each. Foxtel (and its streaming service Binge) also had four shows. Stan, owned by Nine, the publisher of The Australian Financial Review, and Binge would not be subject to the new obligations because they are already covered by existing rules.

The AWGIE Awards recognise outstanding achievements of Australian screen and stage writers with the major award going to Frances Elliott and Samantha Marlowe for Girl Like You, a documentary about a couple told over six years as one of them transitions gender.

Ms Elliott and Ms Marlowe were also co-winners in the documentary – public broadcast or exhibition category, along with Ben Lawrence for Ithaka, a documentary about Julian Assange.

Edmund Tadros reports about the media and marketing sector. He previously led our coverage of the professional services sector. He is based in our Sydney newsroom. Connect with Edmund on Twitter.Email Edmund at