What are series and seasons of series?
Each season of a series is treated as a different ‘film’ for the purposes of the Producer Offset, is the subject of a separate application, and must separately meet the expenditure thresholds. However, once a series (as made up by all of its seasons) totals 65 commercial hours, the series ceases to be eligible for certification (sections 376-55(2)(b) and 376-170(4)(c) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997).
The following criteria apply to series and seasons thereof:
- the series/season must contain at least two episodes
- the episodes must be at least a commercial half hour in length (commercial quarter hour for animated series), and
- the series (but not each season) must have a ‘new creative concept’.
Note that the 65 commercial hours applies to the entire series whether or not any seasons or episodes in the series were made without the Producer Offset’s support, prior to the Producer Offset’s commencement, and/or by different companies and individuals.
The QAPE spreadsheet will calculate whether your series has met the 65-commercial-hour cap.
New creative concept
Sometimes, a new series emerges from an existing series (e.g. as a re-boot or spin-off). The ITAA contemplates this and, where the applicant can demonstrate that the new project has a ‘new creative concept’, it will be treated as a season of a new series, and the 65-commercial-hour cap ‘re-sets’.
In assessing whether there is a new creative concept we must have regard to the degree of difference in the following factors, in comparison to other series that have previously been produced:
- the title (although a mere change of name is not a new creative concept)
- the principal characters, the setting, production locations and the persons involved in the making of the series, and
- any other matters that we consider to be relevant (drawn from section 376-70(2) of the ITAA).
Where one company takes over the making of a series from another company – even if the companies have completely different personnel and management – but the series is still clearly identifiable as a continuation of the same series, it is unlikely to have a new creative concept. (The Administrative Appeals Tribunal judgement in Beyond Productions Pty Ltd and Screen Australia  AATA 39 provides a useful guide at paragraph 71.)