Screen Forever 2023: Hugh Marks: “Commercial networks have a characteristic lack of First Nations content”

Screen Forever 2023: Hugh Marks: “Commercial networks have a characteristic lack of First Nations content”

Former Nine CEO Hugh Marks says Free to Air networks have a distinctive lack of First Nations content while much of Australia’s drama is moving behind paywalls.

Marks, now co-CEO of Dreamchaser Entertainment, was speaking at D+R session on Australian culture on screen, at Screen Forever this week.

One panel, moderated by Fran Kelly, addressed questions about whether Australia is sliding inexorably into creating more content for global citizens, at the expense of our own culture.

Angela Bates, First Nations department at Screen Australia, said: “I think ABC does a fantastic job of commissioning great quality Australian drama and Path of Mystery it is the proof. It’s proof that our First Nations Stories have truly traveled the world. The second series had its world premiere at the Berlinale and was listed in the top 20 international television programs by the New York Times in the same year.

“So I feel like we’re mainstream, we’re successful. But the bottom line is, because of all the government investment, our Department of First Nations is celebrating 30 years this year. That’s 30 years of investing, nurturing talent, growing our content, and ensuring we give First Nations creators the opportunity to tell stories from an authentic place. From our point of view. This is the difference. We are reaching a global audience by continuing to make local content that is unique to us. But it’s no longer just relevant to a local audience,” she continued.

“I think it was mostly ABC and SBS. But I would like to say that other commissioners should take note of it, beware Path of Mystery to that success and see the value in the programs”

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Hugh Marks of Dreamchaser Entertainment and former CEO of Nine Network said: “While commercial networks may not be making as many Aussie dramas as they once did, they have migrated to streaming platforms. But the problem is that you have to pay for it. This is what has changed dramatically in the last 3 years, let alone the last 10 years.

“In terms of First Nations and Indigenous drama, I think commercial networks have a characteristic lack of content in that space. Some of the things that were mentioned today will change that.

“One is, as Angela said, developing the talent in that space to tell authentic stories. There has to be a broad range of talent that can tell those stories. This is something (in which) a lot of work has been done. There are now a number of people in that space that you can rely on to tell stories on the level that you want to broaden.