Fresh fears that local content quota changes could spell death for long running soap Neighbours

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It’s the family favourite series which has graced the screens for over 35 years and launched the careers of A-list stars Chris Hemsworth, Margot Robbie and Kylie Minogue.

But there are new fears iconic Aussie soap Neighbours could be cancelled, after an already troubled year caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, the production company behind the hit TV show, Fremantle Media, told the ABC that changes to local content quotas could spell the death for the residents of Ramsey Street.

Is this the end of Neighbours? There are fears that local content quota changes could spell death for the residents of Ramsay Street after 35 years. Pictured Tim Robards, who recently departed the show

Is this the end of Neighbours? There are fears that local content quota changes could spell death for the residents of Ramsay Street after 35 years. Pictured Tim Robards, who recently departed the show 

 ‘I think in the free-to-air environment Neighbours could most certainly be at risk if the quotas [for Australian content] were to change,’ chief executive Chris Oliver-Taylor said. 

 The long-running drama was forced to halt production earlier this year at the beginning of the health crisis.

At the time, commercial broadcasters – who are governed by strict rules and must show 55 percent of locally made content – pleaded for a reprieve as they saw their revenue and ratings plunge.

'I think in the free-to-air environment Neighbours could most certainly be at risk if the quotas [for Australian content] were to change,' Mr Oliver-Taylor said (Pictured are Neighbours stars Richie Morris and Colette Mann)

‘I think in the free-to-air environment Neighbours could most certainly be at risk if the quotas [for Australian content] were to change,’ Mr Oliver-Taylor said (Pictured are Neighbours stars Richie Morris and Colette Mann) 

The federal government threw the struggling networks a temporary lifeline by suspending the quotas for locally produced drama, documentaries and children’s shows.

Review of the quotas has been placed on hold – with an option to extend the suspension if needed through 2021.

However, the networks are now calling for a permanent change, claiming the old rules are ‘outdated’.

Fears: The fresh fears come after the federal government suspended the requirement for local networks to show 55 percent  locally made content during the coronavirus pandemic. However, they are now looking for that to be made permanent (Pictured Rob Mills in Neighbours)

Fears: The fresh fears come after the federal government suspended the requirement for local networks to show 55 percent  locally made content during the coronavirus pandemic. However, they are now looking for that to be made permanent (Pictured Rob Mills in Neighbours) 

Oliver Taylor explained this could mean death for many shows.

‘If there’s no incentive financially for those (Australian) networks to commission – to make content reasonably cheaper – than those networks will look to acquire content from overseas at a cheaper price point,’ he said.

The suffering soap – which is filmed in Melbourne – has already been dealt several blows this year. 

Launching pad: The long-running soap has been on screens for over 35 years and launched the careers of some of our biggest stars, including Chris Hemsworth (left) and Margot Robbie (right)

Launching pad: The long-running soap has been on screens for over 35 years and launched the careers of some of our biggest stars, including Chris Hemsworth (left) and Margot Robbie (right)

Launching pad: The long-running soap has been on screens for over 35 years and launched the careers of some of our biggest stars, including Chris Hemsworth (left) and Margot Robbie (right) 

It was forced to shut down production twice in March, firstly after a crew member came into close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, and then a week later  after the government introduced strict  social distancing guidelines. 

Popular star Tim Robards, who played Pierce Greyson, quit the show to reunite in Sydney with his pregnant wife Anna Heinrich ahead of the birth of their first child. 

Tim was replaced by Don Hany.  

Another blow: Popular star Tim Robards, who played Pierce Greyson, quit the show to reunite in Sydney with his pregnant wife Anna Heinrich ahead of the birth of their first child

Another blow: Popular star Tim Robards, who played Pierce Greyson, quit the show to reunite in Sydney with his pregnant wife Anna Heinrich ahead of the birth of their first child 

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