Film, TV add $3.8 bil to Australian economy

Report comes as part of anti-piracy efforts

SYDNEY -- In a bid to bolster Australia's anti-piracy efforts, researchers released a study Tuesday showing that the country's film and television industry contributes about AUS$4.4 billion ($3.8 billion) to the economy each year.

In what it called the most comprehensive economic impact report to date, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft said the report it commissioned shows that 50,000 people Down Under made their living making movies and TV in 2007, in an industry with a turnover of AUS$14.5 billion ($10 billion).

Report authors Access Economics studied everything from the start of the film and TV production process to theatrical exhibition and TV sales to the manufacture and distribution of home entertainment products.

AFACT, whose members include the MPA, hopes to use the information in the report to tie into its various anti-piracy campaigns and copyright law enforcement work.

In 2008, AFACT assisted Australian police with 51 raids that yielded more than 544,697 illegal DVDs and 488 machines capable of producing 12 million pirated DVDs a year with an estimated street value of more than AUS$61million ($42.7 million).

The report highlights the value of the industry to the broader economy at a time when "filmed entertainment is pervasive in but can easily be taken for granted," AFACT Executive Director Adrianne Pecotic said.

The largest segment studied in the report was broadcast TV, which contributed almost AUS$1.9 billion ($1.33 billion) to the Aussie economy in 2007. Next on the list of contributors were the production and distribution sectors at AUS$769 million ($538 million) and AUS$622 million ($435 million), respectively.

Pay TV contributed AUS$374 million ($262 million), cinema exhibition AUS$314 million ($220 million), video retail AUS$223 million ($156 million) and rental AUS$238 million ($166 million).

The production sector generated AUS$2 billion ($1.4 billion). Of that, $410 million ($287 million) in turnover originated from the independent domestic sector.

Of the roughly 50,000 people employed in the sector, 37,774 were employed directly while 11,140 were freelance or in related industries. Production employed the most people at 10,616.

The report also highlighted sharp growth in DVD sales, up to AUS$1.448 billion ($1 billion) in 2007 from AUS$12 million ($8.4 million) in 1999, supporting about 2,000 small franchise rental/retail businesses and more than 10,000 jobs.

In total, the film and TV sector contributed an estimated AUS$1.8 billion ($1.26 billion) in tax to the Australian government in 2007.

Access Economics is now preparing a separate report detailing the economic contribution by the Hollywood Studio members of MPA to Australia's economy.