The Turnbull/Joyce Government today announced a number of new measures to support regional and small publishers and create local jobs.
The new measures, which are in addition to the Government’s media reform package, and subject to its passage, include:
A $50 million Regional and Small Publishers Innovation fund;
a Regional and Small Publishers cadetship program to support 200 cadetships ($8 million) and;
60 regional journalism scholarships ($2.4 million over three years)
The fund could allocate grants to programs and initiatives such as the purchasing or upgrading of equipment and software, training, development of apps and business activities to drive revenue and readership, all of which would help small publishers to expand their businesses and create more jobs.
Funding grants will be capped at a maximum of $1 million per year for any media group. At least two thirds of funding must go to regional publishers and not less than 25 per cent for non-regional publishers.
Deputy Prime Minister and Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, said the new measures would be a welcome support for regional media organisations which are facing new challenges in the digital age.
“Assisting small publishers and regional newspapers to innovate in the digital media environment will go a long way to maintaining these organisations and create more local jobs,” Mr Joyce said.
“The cadetship program is another great initiative which will boost employment opportunities through funding for more cadets in the regions. This program together with funding for 60 regional journalism scholarships will give regional Australians the opportunity to access journalism training that they haven’t had before.
“The reforms are vital for the future viability of Australian media organisations and local jobs. It will unshackle the industry by freeing it from laws and regulations, which date back to the 1980s before the internet existed.
“We have many great regional news outlets in the New England Electorate, so these reforms will ensure they have the support to continue to provide quality local news for local people.”
Minister for Communications, Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, said the measures recognised the challenges faced by the regional media industry.
“Our media reform package is all about strengthening Australian media organisations. These measures will support regional media companies and enable them to grow their businesses and create more jobs,” Minister Fifield said.
The Government’s media reform package currently before the Parliament has the unanimous support of the industry.
It will give Australian media organisations the opportunity to reconfigure their businesses and compete with online platforms such as Google and Facebook.