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Video clip synopsis – The importance of content quotas in preserving and encouraging programs that represent Australian culture.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 2min 38sec
Tags - broadcasting, culture, identity, media influence, media ownership, technology, television programs, see all tags


Content Quotas

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About the Video Clip


This interview with Stuart Cunningham was recorded for the website From Wireless to Web produced in 2005.

Stuart Cunningham is a Professor and Director of the Creative Industries Research & Applications Centre at the Queensland University of Technology. You can view his full biography at From Wireless to Web

The website is a selective history of broadcast media in Australia. Decade by decade, from radio and newsreels to TV and the internet, this history shows how the Australian broadcast media developed and shaped the way Australians see themselves.

From Wireless to Web is a Film Australia production in association with Roar Film.

Curriculum Focus


Area of study 3. Australian media organisations

This area of study focuses on an analysis of Australian media organisations and the social and industrial framework within which they operate.

Media products are produced within a cultural, aesthetic, legal, political, economic, institutional and historical framework. Their production, distribution and circulation is affected by law, self-regulatory codes of conduct, industry pressures and the practices of particular media organisations. Other factors (for example, sources of revenue, ratings, circulation, ownership and control) influence the nature and range of media texts produced by individual organisations. Consideration of the impact of these factors on media organisations and their products is important in developing an understanding of the production role of different Australian media organisations.

This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


In 1989 angry Germans took to the Berlin Wall with pickaxes and the 'old world order’ collapsed. Then the first Gulf War saturated the media, leading a parade of local conflicts from around the world into our homes during the 1990s. Globalisation became the buzzword and millions hooked up to the internet. Australians searched for a place in the ‘new world order’. Some embraced it, some turned 'green’ and adopted the slogan 'think global, act local’. Others simply turned off.

Content Quotas
It is widely accepted that the media influence the social and cultural values of the nation. Even in the early days of radio, but particularly since the advent of television, creating local content has been seen as an important counter to the large volumes of imported content, especially that from the United States.

The Australian Broadcasting Tribunal – the body responsible for regulating Australia’s broadcast media industry – introduced a changed policy process around Australian television content for commercial broadcasters in the 1980s. In 1989 a quota of 35 per cent for Australian content was set, a figure that increased to 55 per cent in 1996. The Australian Content Standard requires all commercial free-to-air television licensees to broadcast an annual minimum transmission quota of 55 per cent Australian programming between 6am and midnight.

Commercial television networks are required to broadcast at least 390 hours of 'C’-classified children’s programs each year, with at least 130 hours of programs for preschool-aged children and 260 hours of programs suitable for children to age 12. Programming for children is subject to additional requirements for first-release programs, re-runs, and restrictions to general programs screened during designated times for children’s television viewing.

Commercial television networks are also required to broadcast at least 20 hours of Australian documentary programs each year. The Australian Content Standard defines a documentary as 'a program that is a creative treatment of actuality other than a news, current affairs, sports coverage, magazine, infotainment or light entertainment program’.

Classroom Activities


Answer the following questions from the Video Clip Context and the video clip itself:

  1. How do you think the quota system supports
    1. an Australian identity as represented on television?
    2. the Australian media production industry?
  2. Do you think it is reasonable to have content quotas? Do you think that they work? How might television stations get around them if they wanted to?
  3. Write down all the shows you watch in a week that have been produced in Australia.
    1. What conclusions can you draw regarding the future of Australian content?
    2. What conclusions can you draw about the time of day where they screened?
    3. What about the possible impact new technology such as the Internet may have on Australian content?

Further Resources


Go to From Wireless to Web for more about the history of broadcast media in Australia.

Go to Australian Communications and Media Authority

Go to Australian Broadcasting Authority