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Good News for Australian Screen Productions

The results of the first survey of the Australian screen production sector in five years reveal strong growth.

The survey, released by Screen Australia and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows production businesses recorded total income of $2.2 billion, up by 38 per cent since the last survey in 2006/07. Total employment also grew by 23 per cent to 13,414. On the other hand, income for the post-production sector was down by 25 per cent and employment was down by 21 per cent. The results were released at Screen Australia’s one-day policy conference in Canberra, Jobs, Dollars, Hearts & Minds.

Speaking at the conference, Screen Australia’s Chief Operating Officer, Fiona Cameron, said, “This ABS data provides a crucial gauge of the health of the screen production sector following five years of rapid change and development. In the past five years, we’ve seen the introduction of the Producer and PDV Offsets, the formation of Screen Australia, the introduction of the digital multi-channels and the dawning of a new golden age of TV drama.

“The high Australian dollar and a tough global economic climate have also impacted many parts of the industry but the sector as a whole has weathered these changes well,” said Ms Cameron.

For the first time, the digital games sector was also included in the industry-wide survey and recorded total income of $89.4m. This result was unsurprisingly down from the first ever survey of game developers five years ago, when the industry was dominated by  several large studios providing development services for foreign-published console games.

Ms Cameron said the survey confirmed that the business model for game development in Australia had changed significantly over the last five years.

“In the wake of the tough economic climate for the global entertainment industry, we  have moved from a large, predominantly work-for-hire industry, to a smaller group of  highly skilled developers making and self-publishing games for web and mobile  platforms,” Ms Cameron said.

“The government’s interactive games fund provides crucial and timely support for Australian teams to build sustainable games studios and retain a greater share of intellectual property. This will flow on to a greater share of the economic benefit for  developers of break-out hits like Fruit Ninja.”

The survey also revealed that news, current affairs, light entertainment and sport  continue to dominate Australian production activity, and that programs made primarily for online delivery, measured for the first time, are still at very low levels.