The Federal government over the last 5 years has gradually increased its spending on internal video production units. The small production industry, (yes, there is an industry here in Canberra – but largest on a per-capita basis) is starting to feel the pain from the decrease in video production outsourcing by government departments.
Some departments are spending big money on the establishment of these units, by way of expensive broadcast equipment, then the staffing budget to operate the equipment. The capital cost to set up these units is usually above $1 million.
The local industry is feeling the pain and is literally competing against the government to pitch on work.
DEEWR established a large production unit a few years back and is known to be pitching against private industry for other department production projects. This is hurting local production companies, because they just can’t compete on price.
The production industry in Canberra employs some 100-200 people at a conservative guess. Production company owners aren’t supportive of the magnitude of some of these commercial-scale government production units.
What’s the problem, you say?
Well, the problem is three fold:
Cost vs outsource
The cost to open and run a unit would far out weigh the cost to outsource. The demand for projects to a department could at one stage justify the establishment of a unit, but as we have seen with DEEWR, the demand decreases and then the department is stuck with expensive broadcast equipment (one broadcast camera kit costs $85,000-$150,000). The unit then tries to justify its existence by pitching for work, alongside the commercial companies, for government jobs.
Quality of work
As with private enterprise, it’s a competitive market: meaning quality must always be maintained. Secondly, because profits are not required and high-performing environments are not maintained, the quality of work by the units is low.
Government competing against private industry
Government should support industry, and it does. But, in this case, it is an oversight by the executive level and the sums need to be done to see that creating a production unit just does not make sense. Outsourcing on demand makes much more sense financially and quality-wise. Secondly, government should not work against locally owned, small family businesses.