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Neighbours, the soap opera beloved of students, is under threat of being taken off the air in the wake of the pandemic, after quotas were suspended that required that a certain amount of programming must be domestically produced, Marcus Parekh reports. 

Under Australian law, 55 per cent of content shown on commercial networks must be Australian, but following the coronavirus outbreak, the quota was suspended as shows were forced to pause production.

According to the company behind the show, the residents of Ramsay Street are vulnerable to cancellation.

“I think in the free-to-air environment Neighbours could most certainly be at risk if the quotas (for Australian content) were to change,” Fremantle Media chief executive Chris Oliver-Taylor told the Australian Broadcasting Company.

“If there’s no incentive financially for those (Australian) networks to commission – to make content reasonably cheaper – then those networks will look to acquire content from overseas at a cheaper price point,” Mr Oliver-Taylor added.

Experts have warned that, unless the government makes it clear the quotas will be brought back, businesses will collapse.

“Literally thousands of those businesses go under if the Government doesn’t make it really clear now that the current suspension of the quota system won’t go beyond the end of the financial year,” Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell told the ABC.

A spokesman for the Federal Department of Communications and Arts said a decision on reintroducing quotas would be made later this year.