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Audiovisual trade

Trade in cultural goods and royalties

Audiovisual trade is part of a broader category of trade in cultural goods and cultural royalties. Cultural goods include such items as books, magazines and newspapers, recorded media (both sound and audiovisual), equipment such as radios, televisions, VCRs, DVD players, exposed film and artistic works, musical instruments and other performing arts equipment, antiques and collections (see Defining cultural goods below). Cultural royalties include royalties for audiovisual programs (cinema, TV, video) as well as music.

Taken together, exports of cultural goods and royalties have risen by 92 per cent between 1994/95 and 2005/06, from $443.9 million to $851.5 million, while cultural imports have grown by 68 per cent, from $2.9 billion to $4.9 billion. Imports have consistently been around five to six times higher than exports over this period with the exception of 2000/01 when exports were particularly high due to audiovisual royalties earned by the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG).

(See Archive: Cultural trade: Summary for details.)

The bulk of trade in cultural goods is made up of two main categories: ‘books, magazines, newspapers and other printed matter’ (40 per cent of exports and 24 per cent of imports in 2005/06), and ‘radio and television receivers and apparatus for sound or video recording or reproduction’ (20 per cent of exports and 58 per cent of imports).

Overall, imports of cultural goods were over six times higher than exports in 2005/06 ($4.9 billion compared with $851.5 million), resulting in a net difference of $4.1 billion. The only category in which exports exceeded imports was ‘cinematographic, film, exposed and developed’ with $13.1 million and $10.5 million respectively in 2005/06.

In 2005/06, the highest number of exports was to New Zealand, with books and magazines making up $158.2 million of the total $255.3 million. The US and UK followed, with exports of $113.4 million and $49.3 million respectively. Together, the three accounted for 70 per cent of all of exports of cultural goods. By comparison, Australia imported over $100 million from eight countries, with China ($946.4 million), South Korea ($478.1 million), UK ($462.5 million) and US ($435.7 million) being the principal sources of these goods.

In regard to most countries, Australia’s imports of cultural goods exceeded its exports in 2005/06. The exceptions were New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Fiji, which all received more cultural goods from Australia than they sold to Australia.

Exports of cultural royalties were worth $256.0 million in 2005/06, with $41.0 million of this accounted for by music and $215.0 million by audiovisual material. Imports totalled $1.1 billion for the year – $213.0 million in music royalties and $869.0 million in royalties for films, TV programs and video product. Trade in cultural royalties is explored in more detail elsewhere in this section, with data available to 2005/06.

Defining cultural goods

In 2003 the Cultural Ministers Council Statistic Working Group (CMC SWG) publication, Australia's Trade in Culture presented information for the financial years 1994/95 to 2000/01, using a modified methodology to determine which items were cultural in nature. Data on goods that Australia trades internationally are classified by exporters and importers according to the Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System (HS). This system was used in conjunction with the Australian Culture and Leisure Classifications (ACLC) to identify trade in cultural goods. Goods listed in the HS were classified as cultural if they were included in the Product Classification of the ACLC and: (1) they were the primary output of a cultural industry; or (2) they directly supplied a consumer with a cultural opportunity.

Note that in 1996 the CMC SWG published a report on cultural goods and services which contained data for 1993-94 and 1994-95. However, as this 1996 report was not based on the ACLC, it is not possible to make comparisons between the two publications. Figures previously published (in Get the Picture) for 1997/98 and 1998/99 are also not comparable with the new figures presented here.