Owen Johnston is a film and television producer and director, teacher, and policy consultant. He has taught film and television production in the Griffith Film School’s post graduate program for a decade, served as a Project Manager and the Acting Director of Film Development and Marketing at the Australian Film Commission, produced drama and documentary programs for several Australian television networks, and the feature film Subdivision released by Disney in 2008. Owen was the founding president of the Queensland Documentary Association (QDOX), a founding board member of QPIX Ltd, and the Chair of the 5th Australian International Documentary Conference. He currently consults to the Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA) on industrial relations and commercial affairs.
This thesis explores the link between the policy and advocacy work of an influential lobby group of film and television producers in Australia and developments in state and federal government regulation. Many of the existing studies of government policy in the film and television industry concentrate on the ‘back end’ of the policy exchange with citizens and industry, where regulation is enacted by government and policed by regulatory authorities. Much less work has been done at the ‘front end’ of the exchange examining the contributions made by lobby groups and interrogating their submissions, representations, and arguments. There are no historical studies of the evolution of lobbying and its impact on regulation and national culture in the Australian film and television industries. Nor has any history been written of the independent producer lobby in Australia including the Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA). The research will ask the question – How effective has the independent producer lobby in Australia been in influencing Australian content regulation. This research is timely as digital convergence of the formerly separate silos of radio, TV, and the Internet, and the difficulty of regulating the World Wide Web, is currently leading to the re-making of regulation in this area. My objective is to derive lessons learned from past struggles to use in the policy discussions of the next decade.