From the perspective of Australian television industry professionals, I can absolutely understand the call for the government to force streaming services to fulfil a quota of Australian-made content. It must be hard, slogging away in the salt mines of Australian free-to-air TV, and watching Netflix skip merrily along, taking all your viewers without having to invest one bit in the local scene. Frustrating as hell.
But from the perspective of an Australian television consumer, the demand for streaming services to produce more Australian content has one major flaw: it will result in more Australian content. That is something that no discerning viewer wants to see. I mean literally: no one wants to see it.
I’m not saying there are no good Aussie TV shows. I’m just saying I think we’re already way over capacity and that making more local TV would mean scraping the bottom of an already frighteningly empty barrel. Like Clint Eastwood said, a man’s got to know his limits. And if he’d had the chance to conduct a fair assessment of the Australian TV industry, Clint would surely have noted that the same principle applies to it. Aussie TV has to know its limits, and it’s already gone way beyond them.
Now, don’t get defensive here, guys. Just have a think about it. You know I’m right. Think about how many locally-produced TV shows you watch. Now think about how many locally-produced TV shows you roll your eyes and say, “what a load of bullcrap” at whenever their ads come on. And then think about which of those two options is the most likely to result from legislation mandating even more of them. Yeah. You see the problem. I mean Mad As Hell and Masterchef are great, but you know full well that if Netflix has to make Australian TV against its will we’re going to be hit with a flurry of variations on 800 Words and Love Island.
Look at our history. It is not a tale of unvarnished glory. For every Prisoner there has been a Chances. For every Fast Forward there has been an Open Slather. And if we’re honest Prisoner and Fast Forward weren’t that good in the first place.
It’s time to be honest with ourselves, Australia. We’re a country capable of making great television: just, you know…not that much of it. Local quotas for streamers will be great for all the hard-working and talented professionals in the industry. It’ll just be awful for the people sitting on their couches at home. And aren’t we the important ones here?