The agreements covering film production in Australia are in place until 2009, so all is calm between the unions right now. Digital and new media is not an issue - yet - because the agreements in place already capture the small amount of money flowing from new technologies.

Actors' fees are based on a film's Australian theatrical release and additional loadings cover a range of other rights, which producers buy up-front. A 20% loading for ancillary and Australian pay-TV rights includes digital media. Crews receive fees only.

"Broadband use is permitted and performers get residuals from any money made," says Simon Whipp, Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (Meaa) federal secretary.

Geoff Brown, executive director of the Screen Producers Association of Australia (Spaa), points out that agreements should be technology - and platform - neutral. "It should only be about what money comes in and how it's carved up."

But negotiations are taking place on the television front. It could transpire that broadcasters are allowed to fully exploit their programmes, but only for 30 days after the first television transmission.

Most of the Australian industry, including the unions, are focused on whether the government will agree to introduce tax rebates on production as part of the May 8 budget. This should result in more private investment.


- Meaa represents actors, entertainment industry employees and journalists on industrial and professional matters. About 9,500 of its 36,000 members are actors.

- Spaa represents 400 independent producers and service and facility companies, on all issues affecting their businesses. Their priority is to secure fairer terms of trade with broadcasters.

- Both writers and directors are represented by associations, not traditional unions.