How COVID crisis impacts your favourite TV shows
Free-to-air broadcasters have called on the government to relax quotas on local content as the ongoing impact of COVID-19 makes it harder to produce Australian television.
Seven, Nine and Ten are unified in putting pressure on federal authorities to provide some relief after countless productions including The Bachelor and Home And Away have been shut down to prevent spread of the illness.
"We've flagged with the government that it is unlikely that we will meet regulatory requirements for local content this year and the next due to the impact of COVID-19 on our productions and sports broadcasts," a spokeswoman for Channel 7 told Confidential. "Separately, it is more important than ever that the government moves forward with its content review, so all sectors of the industry have clarity and certainty about their regulatory obligations once we are on the other side of COVID-19."
Free to air broadcasters are tied to strict regulations regarding the amount of local content they must show - 55 per cent local content between 6am and midnight on primary channels or 1460 hours of local content on non-primary channels each year.
There are additional quotas within those targets for children's programming, documentaries and drama.
Despite broadcaster cries for support from the regulatory authority, Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher did not personally respond to the issue.
A spokesperson said they were aware that productions had been suspended and said the government was "engaging regularly with the industry during this challenging time." They would not say if local content quotas would be relaxed.
Other shows to have been put on hold due to coronavirus include TV drama Five Bedrooms, shooting of the next season of Australian Survivor, Australia's Got Talent and Holey Moley.
Studio audiences have been cut too on shows like Studio 10, The Project and Have You Been Paying Attention?
"We are committed to keeping our audiences entertained and connected in these challenging times," a Ten spokeswoman said. "It is important to us that we ensure the continuity of employment for our production partners whenever possible."
Nine boss Hugh Marks this week said: "This is a very difficult time for all Australians. Notwithstanding a significant impact on our business (we are confident) ... we will emerge from this period a stronger and more competitive company."
Free TV Australia chief executive Bridget Fair called for a "tailored emergency support package" for the industry.
"We're a free and universal service, needed more now than ever," she said. "Many broadcasters will be unable to meet their Australian content obligations and are experiencing financial pressure which could be greatly assisted by removing spectrum fee payments."
Originally published as How COVID crisis impacts your favourite TV shows