White noise: Researching the absence of First Nations presence in commercial Australian television drama

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Nobes, Karen
Kerrigan, Susan
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Film and Screen Media, University College Cork
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First Nations content on commercial Australian television drama is rare and First Nations content makers rarely produce the content we see. Despite a lack of presence on commercial drama platforms there has been, and continues to be, a rich array of First Nations content on Australian public broadcast networks. Content analysis by Screen Australia, the Federal Government agency charged with supporting Australian screen development, production and promotion, aggregates information across the commercial and non-commercial (public broadcasting) platforms which dilutes the non-commercial output. The research presented in this article focused on the systemic processes of commercial Australian television drama production to provide a detailed analysis of the disparity of First Nations content between commercial and non-commercial television. The study engaged with First Nations and non-Indigenous Australian writers, directors, producers, casting agents, casting directors, heads of production, executive producers, broadcast journalists, former channel managers and independent production company executive directors—all exemplars in their fields—to interrogate production processes, script to screen, contributing to inclusion or exclusion of First Nations content in commercial television drama. Our engagement with industry revealed barriers to the inclusion of First Nations stories, and First Nations storytelling, occurring across multiple stages of commercial Australian television drama production.
First Nations stories , Australian television , Drama production , Creative systems , Australian soap opera
Nobes, K. and Kerrigan, S. (2022) 'White noise: Researching the absence of First Nations presence in commercial Australian television drama', Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media, 24, pp. 79-96. https://doi.org/10.33178/alpha.24.05