The New Zealand screen producers’ guild SPADA says that international streaming platforms should be regulated and made to pay a portion of their revenue to the local industry.
“The streamers currently pay no tax in New Zealand, face no regulation, and use broadband infrastructure that was partially funded by our government. As has happened globally, their negative impact on local broadcasting viewership and therefore advertising revenue in the [local] market has been huge, which has been very challenging for local production,” said SPADA president Irene Gardiner on Thursday. She was speaking at the guild’s annual conference and at the launch of a ‘love local’ campaign.
“We will be suggesting to our new government that a levy be put on the platforms’ New Zealand revenue, which could then be invested back into local production via the screen funding agencies NZ Film Commission, NZ On Air and Te Mangai Paho.
“We appreciate these are big businesses, and they may want to push back, especially on a small territory like New Zealand, but it’s not in the streamers’ interest to devastate local production either here or globally. They need content and you get that by having strong domestic screen industries. They are a part of the screen eco-system here and we would ask them to take that responsibility seriously and play fair,” Gardiner said.
New Zealand has a screen production sector that is heavily geared to servicing large inbound international productions, which it attracts through a combination of production rebates, a weak currency, high production and VFX skills, developed studio facilities and widely varied landscapes.
Gardiner made a connection between the strength of local productions and the country’s ability to service the international titles.
“We need to keep our domestic production sector as strong as we can because in turn it helps support the international production sector, and together we generate NZ$4 billion ($2.4 billion) per annum. Local and International need and feed each other.
“The cultural argument goes without saying – the creating and sharing of New Zealand stories with New Zealanders is essential to our country’s well-being. It builds national identity, helps bring us together, fosters knowledge and freedom of thought, reflects our country’s unique culture, and makes us laugh.
“And as we increasingly take our stories to the world, it all helps build our industry and international reputation, it positively impacts tourism, increases export dollars, and creates valuable New Zealand intellectual property.
“If we could add new investment from the streamers to the mix, that would be a significant boost for our local production sector.”
Other countries have sought to regulate multinational streaming firms, such as Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon’s Prime Video, through local content quotas or levies. Some seek both. While others are more concerned with controlling the nature of the content available within their jurisdiction.