Australia pay sector spends $500 mil in 2009

26 pct growth on local content spending in two years

SYDNEY -- Australia’s pay TV sector spent AUS$514.4 million ($500 million) on local production in 2009, industry body the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association said Tuesday in its inaugural Australian Production Investment Survey. 

The figure covers production across all genres including news, sport, drama, light entertainment, movies, lifestyle, documentaries, music and children’s programming.  

It represents a 26% increase in local content spend over the previous two years, according to ASTRA chair Steve Bracks, and came despite a tightening of economic conditions overall during the global financial crisis.  

“These numbers demonstrate subscription television is a significant investor in, and creator of, Australian content,” Bracks said.

ASTRA CEO Petra Buchanan added the survey is indicative of the demand for local content on Australian television.  

“What we are seeing is that in the television sense, Australians want to see themselves in these programs," Ashe said. 'When I look at what is most highly rated in the year to date, it is ‘Selling Houses Australia,’ followed by ‘Australia's Next Top Model.'” 

The figure compares to the $800 million Australia’s commercial TV networks invest in local content, according to annual figures released by broadcast industry regulator the Australian Communications and Media Authority. 

At the same time the survey, which interviewed 30 companies representing 200 channels, found that employment in the sector rose by 7% from 2007 to 2009, with 4,643 staff in salaried, part time or contract positions.  

Pay TV penetration in Australia currently sits at 34% of the nation’s TV 7.5 million households while its also available in over 1 million public venues.
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