ABC commissions drive Australian storytelling and boost economy

The ABC’s screen commissions contributed $744 million to the Australian economy and supported more than 8000 roles over three years, bringing financial, social and cultural benefits to all states and territories, according to a new report.

The Deloitte Access Economics report, published today, finds that the ABC’s commissioned content is critical for the viability of the Australian production industry and workforce.

The report reveals that from 2017-18 to 2019-20, the ABC commissioned 433 screen productions that delivered more than 2500 hours of Australian content to viewers. Those productions contributed $744 million in total to the Australian economy and supported more than 8300 FTE roles across multiple sectors, building the capability, capacity and depth of the local screen production industry.

The report, commissioned by the ABC, finds that those screen productions also played a crucial catalysing role in supporting economic activity across the country, with every dollar spent by the ABC on external commissions generating $1.11 from other funding bodies.

The report covers screen content produced internally by the ABC or in partnership with the independent sector and includes the genres of arts, children’s, documentaries, drama, comedy, Indigenous and entertainment.

The Deloitte Access Economics report finds that ABC programs such as Mystery Road, Total Control, Rosehaven, Love on the Spectrum, Bluey and Back in Time for Dinner, also deliver social and cultural benefits for all Australians, including by contributing to a sense of national identity, promoting social inclusion and discovering and developing new Australian creative talent.

David Anderson, ABC Managing Director, said: “The Deloitte Access Economics report highlights the ABC’s crucial role in supporting Australian economic activity, jobs and culture, at a time when distinctive and diverse Australian stories risk being swamped by a fragmented global media market.

“While almost half the nation watches programs on ABC TV and ABC iview each week, this report quantifies for the first time the substantial economic benefits of those screen productions, as well as outlining the important social and cultural impacts. As the report finds, ABC screen commissions boost the Australian economy by hundreds of millions of dollars and support thousands of jobs across many sectors and locations, around the country.

“We’re proud to back more homegrown content than any other broadcaster, and to provide content and services that build the economy and bring Australian stories to all Australians, now and in the years to come.”

Michael Carrington, ABC Director Entertainment & Specialist, said: “The ABC is a leading contributor and employer within Australia’s creative industries sector, through our investment in a diverse range of productions and commitment to high quality, relevant public service content.

“As the Deloitte Access Economics report makes clear, the ABC also plays a leading role in supporting Australian culture and diversity and delivering more Australian faces, voices and stories on screen. Celebrating the wonderful range of ideas, ideals and cultural values that Australians hold dear makes us all stronger.”

John O’Mahony, Deloitte Access Economics Partner and lead report author, said: “The ABC’s investments not only support jobs directly, they leverage other funding sources, create jobs in screen businesses and indirectly support jobs in the broader economy.

“These are important economic dynamics to consider as Australia looks for new sources of growth.”

The release yesterday of Screen Australia’s Drama Report for 2020/21 affirms the ABC’s critical role in supporting Australian production.

The report finds the ABC provided the most finance for Australian drama across ABC TV and ABC iview of any single platform, investing $42 million – up 22 per cent on 2019/20 – on 17 titles that commenced production in 2020/21, including Total Control, Aftertaste, Superwog and Jack Irish.

The ABC also financed six of the seven children’s titles that entered production in 2020/21: animation series Bluey (season 3) and The Strange Chores (season 2); and live-action titles Born to Spy, Hardball (season 2), Itch (season 2) and MaxeriX.

The publication of the Deloitte Access Economics report comes ahead of tonight’s AACTA Awards, the nation’s top screen prizes, with ABC programs and people in the running for more than 60 awards.

The initial announcement of the AACTA industry awards this week saw ABC TV’s Bluey named Best Children’s Program, Fisk named Best Narrative Comedy Series and Old People’s Home For 4 Year Olds named Best Documentary or Factual Program.

Other AACTA Award winners were the ABC programs: Love on the Spectrum for Best Direction in Non-Fiction Television; The Newsreader for Best Direction in a Drama or Comedy and Best Production Design in Television; Fires for Best Cinematography in Television and Best Sound in Television; All My Friends Are Racist for Best Short Form Comedy; Strong Women for Best Short Form Entertainment; and My Name is Gulpilil for Best Editing in a Documentary

The ABC is set to continue its substantial economic contribution next year, with its 2022 screen content featuring an unrivalled line-up of new Australian dramas, comedies, factual and children’s programs, alongside trusted coverage of news, current affairs and sport.

Key findings of the Deloitte Access Economics report, “Economic contribution of screen productions commissioned by the ABC”

  • From 2017-18 to 2019-20, the ABC was involved in the commission of 433 screen productions, helping to bring more than 2500 hours of Australian content to screen.
  • Those ABC-commissioned productions contributed $744 million to the Australian economy in total, inclusive of funding from third parties, and supported more than 8300 FTE roles. Over 5900 of those roles worked directly on productions (including ABC and non-ABC staff), while a further 2400 roles were supported throughout the economy through spending on goods and services.
  • ABC productions catalyse further support, funding and opportunity for the Australian production industry. Every dollar spent by the ABC on external commissions catalysed a further $1.11 from other funders on average.
  • The ABC’s steady stream of production funding also supports the pipeline of work in the Australian production sector and builds the skills and capabilities of its workers. This is critical for the viability of the sector overall.
  • ABC productions also deliver social and cultural benefits for all Australians, including an authentic and diverse representation of all aspects of modern Australian life and by telling distinctive and powerful stories that inform, entertain and inspire.
  • Productions commissioned by the ABC often have further flow-on effects outside Australia, including by generating revenue from global distribution and bringing money into the Australian economy.

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