THE Morrison Government today announced a new $50million 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 $5million in emergency funding for public interest journalism from the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund (RSPJIP).
Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher 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,” Mr Fletcher said.
The Minister’s comments were endorsed by Member for Mallee Anne Webster who said that media organisations across the country, including those in Mallee 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 media outlets across Mallee, including print media such as the Mildura Weekly, Sunraysia Daily, Swan Hill Guardian, Gannawarra times and the Robinvale Sentinel along with radio media like 1467am and Flow FM,” Dr Webster said.
“Over the recent weeks I have had many discussions with the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Minister Fletcher, as well as with the Prime Minister’s Office on the essential role that public interest journalism plays in our communities, especially at this time.
“The new program announced today will help support regional journalism and secure local media jobs, and is a great result for our communities.”
The program is funded with $13.4million in new money as well as repurposing unallocated funds from the Government’s Regional and Small Publishers Jobs and Innovation Package. 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.