It is my pleasure to present the 2016-2017 Annual Report for the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF).
Speaking at the ACMA’s Australian Content Conversation conference in May, announcing the current Commonwealth Review into Australian and Children’s Screen Content, Minister Fifield said, “We have a lot to share, and our stories and voices do matter. Our children need to understand the inherent uniqueness of our nation and the character and diversity of our people.”
I completely agree. These sentiments are a good starting point for the Review, requiring us to reflect on why it’s important to support Australian children’s screen content, and the type of content that most needs support.
This year the ACTF has supported script development investment on a wide slate of potentially outstanding projects, from both emerging and experienced producers.
We would love to see each of those projects we funded go into production, but children’s television is extremely challenging to finance as there is no commercial incentive for Australian broadcasters to commission original Australian children’s screen content. It cannot command the fees that broadcasters pay for prime time content, and is usually far more dependent on overseas presales and investment than adult content, which can compromise its distinctive Australian character.
Children’s screen content is the clearest example of market failure, and it will be important that this year’s Review establish the means to secure this content for Australian children’s audiences in future.
Here at the ACTF we occupy a space at the intersection between children’s media, education and culture. Highlights this last financial year have seen the production and screening of the Little Lunch Specials (from Gristmill) and the Dance Academy movie (from Werner Films).
Both projects were received enthusiastically by critics and audiences alike. Our education team conducted interactive webinars and outreach with children all over Australia, who had the opportunity to meet and talk with the creative individuals involved with these projects.
The education section of our website was completely revamped this year, to provide even easier access for teachers to pick and choose and use the entire back catalogue of ACTF programs in their classrooms.
The completed digitisation of that catalogue has meant that we were able to licence content to Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Victoria and Scootle.
The history of children’s television and the ACTF are inextricably linked, with the ACTF playing a pivotal role in supporting distinctly Australian programs, and advocating for the support mechanisms required to produce those programs.
For 35 years we have embraced, championed and adapted to changing times and opportunities, while at all times maintaining a singular focus on achieving quality outcomes for child audiences.
We appreciate the opportunity to participate in the Review and believe that we have unparalleled expertise to offer.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Ministers who have supported the ACTF and its activities this year, and their relevant departments, and Film Victoria for their cooperation and assistance. I would especially like to acknowledge the support that we receive from our colleagues in the Commonwealth Department of Communications and the Arts.
I would also like to thank my fellow Board members for their contribution to the work of the ACTF, particularly Leanne Wright, who retired during the year.
Finally, on behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Jenny Buckland and the entire team at the ACTF for another great year.
Janet Holmes à Court