$50 MILLION TO SUPPORT REGIONAL JOURNALISM DURING COVID-19

The Morrison Government today announced a new $50 million program to support public interest journalism in regional Australia during the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.

The Public Interest News Gathering (PING) program will target commercial television, newspaper and radio businesses in regional Australia and builds on the Government’s announcement last week to bring forward $5 million in emergency funding for public interest journalism from the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said: “Many businesses are doing it tough right now and the media sector is sharing that pain, especially in regional areas, as we face unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The media’s role is more vital than ever in providing quality news and accurate information.”

Federal Member for Petrie Luke Howarth said media organisations across the country and indeed those in regional Queensland are facing significant challenges due to the impacts of COVID-19.

“We recognise that public interest journalism is essential in providing timely and accurate information and strengthening local communities and I acknowledge the good work of all regional media outlets that are committed to keeping our communities up to date on the latest information.”

“The new program announced today will help support regional journalism and secure local media jobs.”

The program is funded with $13.4 million in new money as well as repurposing unallocated funds from the Government’s Regional and Small Publishers Jobs and Innovation Package (RSPJIP). This responds to the ACCC’s recommendation, in its Digital Platforms Inquiry, to enhance the RSPJIP to better support high quality news, particularly in regional and remote Australia.

The program is part of a suite of measures announced today by the Government to help sustain Australian media businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The additional measures include:

  • Tax Relief – A 12-month waiver of $41 million in spectrum tax for commercial television and radio broadcasters
  • Short-Term Red Tape Relief – Emergency suspension of content quotas in 2020
  • Harmonising Regulation to Support Australian Content – Release of an Options Paper developed by Screen Australia and the Australian Communications and Media Authority, commencing a fast tracked consultation process on how best to support Australian stories on our screens

“Broadcasters and newspapers are facing significant financial pressure and COVID-19 has led to a sharp downturn in advertising revenue across the whole sector,” Minister Fletcher said.

“We are acting swiftly to offer urgent short term support to the media sector. At the same time we are progressing our December 2019 commitment to consult on the future framework to support Australian stories on our screens.”

The Morrison Government is acting decisively in the national interest to address the significant economic consequences of COVID-19. The Government has announced measures totalling $320 billion across the economy, in support of individuals and businesses.

More information on the PING program and the other support measures announced today, including the options paper for the Australian screen content consultation, can be found at www.communications.gov.au/media_package.

For more information about the Government’s response to COVID-19 visit: www.australia.gov.au