"Local television drama is set for a lean year, with network belt-tightening and timid programming adding to instability created by expected changes to media ownership laws.
"Viewers are being let down, said the head of the Screen Producers Association of Australia, with only a "patchy" schedule of local drama production in 2006.
"'The trend of declining drama out of the networks and the desperate situation at the ABC means it's very difficult to sustain independent production,' Geoff Brown, said.
The three commercial networks are avoiding the risky returns on local dramas for a clear reason, he said, trying to clean up their books before changes to ownership laws.
"'Even though they all deny it, they're all up for sale,' he said."