$5.5 million to establish National Centre of Excellence to preserve Australia’s audiovisual heritage

The Morrison Government has today announced $5.5 million over four years for the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) to support the digitisation of historic audiovisual material and creation of the National Centre for Excellence in Audiovisual Digitisation.

As Australia’s audiovisual archive, the NFSA has more three million items in its collection, including a significant number of film, tape and sound recordings in analogue formats, such as magnetic tape.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said the Centre for Excellence will be a hub for the digitisation of audiovisual heritage across Australia and will allow important historic artefacts to be preserved so they can be shared and enjoyed by new audiences eager to explore our cultural heritage.

“The NFSA has more than 400,000 audiovisual items within its collection in original analogue format – such as film, tape and sound recordings. Only 14 per cent of this material has been digitised, putting it at risk of deterioration and permanent loss,” Minister Fletcher said.

“Digitising this material is an investment in our cultural heritage and will preserve our national audiovisual history to entertain and inform future generations.

“The Government funding announced today will help address issues of material longevity, fragility and equipment maintenance, enabling the NFSA to digitise at-risk video five times faster – as well as doubling the digitisation rate of audio and film material.”

The funding will allow the NFSA to achieve the digitisation of all audio and video magnetic tape by 2025.

It will also support the modernisation of the NFSA’s existing digitisation technology and ongoing storage of the increasing volume of digitised material.

The equipment purchased with some of this funding will also enable the NFSA to assist the ABC and National Archives of Australia digitise their own at-risk material.

Examples of the material that will be digitised include:

  • Iconic Australian TV programs such as Young Talent Time and A Country Practice.
  • Decade’s worth of news and current affairs, representing all of Australia’s public and commercial broadcasters.
  • Coverage of key sporting events such as the Melbourne Cup.
  • Television and radio content produced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media organisations such as the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA) and Imparja TV.
  • Awards ceremonies including the Logies, Astra Awards and Koori Music Awards.
  • Thousands of hours of radio serials and broadcasts of significant historical events.
  • Master tapes by many of our greatest musicians, as well as other unreleased and live performances.

The Government recently announced a $250 million package to support organisations and artists to get back in business following the disruptions caused by COVID-19 and $8 million for the National Library of Australia to support the ongoing development of Australia’s digital heritage portal, Trove.

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