Regional publishers in the New England will be able to access additional assistance to support their business operations during COVID-19.
Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, said the Federal Coalition Government has brought forward the release of $5 million from its Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund.
“Now more than ever, local people are relying on their local news for updates,” Mr Joyce said.
“But as this crisis continues, media organisations, including those in my electorate, are facing significant financial strain due to decreasing advertising revenues – not only from tough economic times but also competing platforms like Google and Facebook which don’t advertise in your local paper and don’t contribute to regional revenue.
“Moving this funding forward will help relieve the financial pressure for publishers, particularly in regional areas like our own, and assist them to continue their important work of informing the public during this health crisis.”
The multi-year $48 million Innovation Fund, which began in 2018, is part of the Government’s Regional and Small Publishers Jobs and Innovation Package, designed to boost sustainability and the ongoing production of news in the modern media environment.
The Fund has been enhanced – with more organisations eligible to apply and a greater emphasis on sustainability. This round will be open to regional publishers and content service providers producing public interest journalism.
Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said: “Following extensive consultation, I have adjusted the Fund so that money is available as quickly as possible to help publishers keep journalists in jobs and local communities informed during COVID-19.”
“As we face these unprecedented challenges together, the media’s role in producing quality news and providing Australians with timely and accurate information is crucial. This provides critical support at a time it’s needed most.”
Time frames will be significantly shorter than normal, in view of the urgent need facing many regional and small publishers. The Fund is a competitive grants program independently administered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. More information on how to apply will be made available in coming days on the ACMA’s website.