Outgoing Chair of the Australian Children’s Television Foundation, Janet Holmes à Court, has called on state and territory ministers to better support Children’s Television production.
Holmes à Court is bowing out after an incredible 36 years as Chair, during which time the organisation has seen great success in Australian storytelling and great change in production, quotas, technology, financing and fragmented audiences.
In the ACTF Annual Report, she recalls,”Regardless of the ACTF’s outstanding achievements, our future, and with it the future of Australian children’s television, has always felt vulnerable. In the end, that’s why I’ve committed myself to the cause for so long. I’ve enjoyed celebrating the successes, but I’ve also felt compelled to continue to fight for our survival.
“Commercial platforms have never willingly accepted obligations to screen children’s programs and fought vigorously over many years to be relieved from those obligations. Even the ABC has recoiled from fully embracing a transparent obligation towards the children’s audience, arguing it shouldn’t be required to be a “market failure” broadcaster. This puts the ACTF in the position of having to be a fierce advocate for the children’s audience, and our friends and colleagues in the industry have not always liked what we’ve had to say.
“There is immense public value in creating film and television for children that reflects their lives, their country, their voices and experiences back to them. The value in supporting our film and television industry to provide these programs for children is not simple industry protectionism – it is an investment in our culture, a statement about the type of country we want our children to grow up in and a means to inspire children to dream Australian dreams.”
Holmes à Court credits new Minister for the Arts Tony Burke as “hitting the ground running’ but offers a salient message to state and territory ministers.
“I would encourage you to step up and play a bigger part in celebrating and supporting this national organisation which was founded as a joint venture between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories,” she noted.
In the 2021-22 financial year the ACTF spent:
•$6,632,169 on production investment (through the provision of distribution advances and/or equity investment); and
•$1,023,938 on script development investment.
•$1,570,490 was committed to projects at financing stage, but not spent by the end of the financial year.
In addition, the ACTF has committed funds (which are yet to be spent) towards initiatives with Stan and Netflix, with those projects anticipated to be announced in the 2022-23 financial year.