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Media Centre

15 11 2017 - Media release

Report released – a decade of the Producer Offset


Lion, The Secret Daughter, Little Lunch and Life on the Reef

Screen Australia has today released a report marking 10 years since the introduction of the Producer Offset – the tax rebate for eligible Australian works. The report collates the experiences of broadcasters and 81 production companies to analyse the effect the Producer Offset has had on the local industry.

Skin in the Game: The Producer Offset 10 Years On shows that the Producer Offset has contributed more than $1.5 billion in total for rebates on over 1,000 projects (Final Certificates issued 1 Jan 2008 – 30 Jun 2017). This was made up of $992m on 291 features, $400m on 309 television projects and $139m on 582 documentaries.

The report demonstrates that the Producer Offset has become a fundamental component of production business models, with 91% of surveyed production companies indicating that it was ‘critically important’ to the operation of their businesses. Producers noted the Producer Offset provided a revenue stream that allowed them to retain staff and keep developing projects in Australia.

The Producer Offset, Location Offset, PDV Offset and Screen Australia itself were all formed as part of the Australian Screen Production Incentive. The Producer Offset is administered by Screen Australia on behalf of the Australian Tax Office.

“With the Australian and Children’s Screen Content Review currently underway, the report is a timely confirmation that the Producer Offset is delivering both culturally and commercially, enabling Australian-made stories to hit screens,” said Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason. “It’s abundantly clear that the Producer Offset has amplified what Australian creativity can achieve. We are now routinely creating titles of ambition and scale like The Dressmaker, Sweet Country, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Top of the Lake, knowing they will find an audience at home and abroad. And by allowing producers to retain ‘skin in the game’ in terms of equity, the Australian Government is ensuring a viable screen sector that is now contributing over $3 billion to the economy and employing over 25,000 people.”

The report details that 92% of respondents considered their equity stake in projects had increased since the introduction of the Producer Offset, with 61% indicating that it had ‘significantly increased’.

However, while equity stakes have increased, concerns have been raised within the industry that producers are under increasing pressure to trade their Producer Offset equity to other parties to raise the finance they need for their productions. Encouragingly, the report shows that the vast majority of producers in the TV, online and documentary space do not trade their Producer Offset equity.

While more than a third of respondents working in feature film said that they had traded some equity, 86% of these respondents had retained at least half of their equity and 45% indicated that they had only traded ‘a small amount’. Where equity in feature film projects was traded it was most commonly traded to Australian private investors (36%) followed by foreign private investors (15%) and local cast (15%).

The Producer Offset has also positively contributed to revenue, with 90% of production companies indicating it had increased their revenue and more than a third of respondents (36%) indicating it had ‘significantly increased’ revenue.

For feature films, the main benefit of the Producer Offset when raising finance was attracting foreign and local private financiers, as well as attracting foreign sales agents. Whereas for those specialising in TV, online and documentary, one of the main benefits was that it made it easier to raise finance from Australian broadcasters.

71% of survey respondents indicated the Producer Offset had helped them form business relationships with international broadcasters, production companies and/or studios.

The public and commercial broadcasters and subscription operators interviewed all indicated the Producer Offset had increased their ability to consistently commission Australian content and tell Australian stories. Some noted that the relatively high cost of TV production in Australia made the Producer Offset crucial to the financing of certain types of content.

While the positive effects of the Producer Offset are consistently acknowledged, the producers and broadcasters surveyed did highlight areas where they felt change should be made. This included calling for the Producer Offset to be lifted to 40% for all projects, based on the belief that 20% for non-theatrical formats was insufficient and didn’t reflect the evolving viewing preferences of audiences. Most respondents also called for the 65-hour cap on TV projects to be removed, as it was seen to work against the production of successful series. Some respondents also called for reform of the definition of formats, particularly documentary, to establish certainty.

Overall the report shows that the Producer Offset has cemented its place at the centre of Australian screen content financing. It is well understood, widely used and broadly supported, although there is desire for updates to its inclusions.

Read the full Skin in the Game: The Producer Offset 10 Years On report here

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