DAILY NEWS: Maranoa MP David Littleproud says he highly values the role of having regional media outlets in his electorate for residents to source their local news. Photo: Kate McCormack
DAILY NEWS: Maranoa MP David Littleproud says he highly values the role of having regional media outlets in his electorate for residents to source their local news. Photo: Kate McCormack

‘Vital resource’: MP backs regional journalism funding

Maranoa MP David Littleproud welcomes the federal government’s announcement of a new $50 million program to support public interest journalism in regional Australia during the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.

Mr Littleproud said it was essential people in regional communities continued to have access to sources of local news.

“There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has had a very serious impact on media organisations, in Maranoa and across Australia, with a huge drop in advertising and the cancellation of local events only adding to that pain,” Mr Littleproud said.

“Across Maranoa, communities rely on local newspapers, radio stations and TV stations to stay informed about current events and in touch with their community.

“The Public Interest News Gathering program will help support local newspapers, radio and TV stations through the pandemic and in turn, help secure local media jobs.

“That’s so important for keeping communities connected as we get through this pandemic.”

The 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.

Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Minister Paul Fletcher said the media’s role was more vital than ever in providing quality news and accurate information.

“We are acting swiftly to offer urgent short term support to the media sector,” Minister Fletcher said.

The program was 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.

Some of the measures included:

  • Investing in Regional Journalism – A $50 million Public Interest News Gathering program
  • 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.

The federal government has currently announced measures totalling $320 billion in response to the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the economy, individuals and businesses.

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