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free-to-air programming 

Hours of local and imported programming broadcast by commercial free-to-air networks, 5 pm to midnight, 1998–2000

As a condition of their broadcasting licences, commercial television stations must comply with certain Australian content and children's programming standards, which involve both an overall transmission quota (a minimum 55 per cent Australian content broadcast between 6 am and midnight), and minimum quotas for specific types of programs such as drama, documentaries and children's. See Free-to-air industry > Content regulation.

Generally, each local network produces most of its news, current affairs and sports programming inhouse, but outsources varying percentages of its entertainment and information programs. A breakdown of hours broadcast is available for 1998–2000, covering evening broadcasts only (5 pm to midnight). This shows drama accounting for just over 3000 hours in 2000 (40 per cent of total hours in this time period), comprising 2,544 hours of overseas programs and 542 hours of local programs.

Australian content by program type, 2000

Graph: Hours of Australian and imported broadcast 5pm to midnight by program type, 2000. The table following provides the data.
  Hours broadcast (5 pm to midnight)
1998 1999 2000
Local Imported Local Imported Local Imported
Total 4,295 3,350 4,073 3,562 4,043 3,638
Documentary 97 130 100 112 74 123
Drama 649 2,363 618 2,427 543 2,544
Infotainment 337 18 291 18 292 15
Light entertainment 853 682 853 631 925 699
News/current affairs 1,497 5 1,433 0 1,437 0
Sports events 526 23 442 56 484 31
Sports other 278 8 243 13 236 5
Other 56 120 92 304 51 220
  Share of hours broadcast (5 pm to midnight)
1998 1999 2000
Local Imported Local Imported Local Imported
Total 56% 44% 53% 47% 53% 47%
Documentary 1% 2% 1% 1% 1% 2%
Drama 8% 31% 8% 32% 7% 33%
Infotainment 4% <1% 4% <1% 4% <1%
Light entertainment 11% 9% 11% 8% 12% 9%
News/current affairs 20% <1% 19% 0% 19% 0%
Sports events 7% <1% 6% 1% 6% <1%
Sports other 4% <1% 3% <1% 3% <1%
Other 1% 2% 1% 4% 1% 3%

Source: Australian Broadcasting Authority.

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