The Daily Telegraph - 29 April 1998
Kiwi TV can Call Australia Home
By Scott Ellis
Australian television programs could be replaced by cheap New Zealand imports after a High Court decision yesterday, industry figures warned last night.
The High Court rules New Zealand television programs could be counted as Australian local content.
The decision means shows like Xena: Warrior Princess could count as Australian unless the Federal Government overrides the Closer Economic Relationship agreement, which allows Australia and NZ equal access to each other's markets.
But actors and television producers warned yesterday the ruling could bring the end of quality drama and documentary production in this country.
"The impact of this decision is potentially disastrous," said Sonia Todd, star of the ABC series Police Rescue and Simone de Beauvoir's Babies.
"Drama, especially ground breaking dram such as Police Rescue and Water Rats - nobody will take the risk to make them. Why make a new program when you can buy cheap repeats which will fill the same quota?"
Under existing rules, almost half of the Australian television must be locally produced.
The High Court yesterday upheld the appeal by the New Zealand Film & Television Industry Group Project Blue Sky against their exclusion under the 50 per cent rule.
The five High Court judges found there wa sno doubt the ABA standard for Australian television content contravened the January 1993 CER.
Shows such as Water Rats cost up to $300,000 an episode to produce and employee dozens of people.
Hercules and other shows produced in New Zealand can be purchased for as little as a tenth of that cost.
Zena: Warrior Princess (they typo)
Screened on Network Ten
Produced by Universal Studios in NZ
Spin-Off from Hercules. Action Adventure series starring Lucy Lawless
[Has a new picture I've never seen before - will be scanned tomorrow and uploaded]