As someone who currently represents a third of rural and regional NSW, I understand how valuable local news services are to my constituents. They not only keep locals informed but also tell the stories of our regional communities.
Because of this I welcome the most significant changes to media laws in a generation that will protect local content in regional Australia and introduce an incentive for local content to be filmed in the local area.
These reforms will support the viability of local media organisations right across the Federal electorate of Parkes as they face increasing competition from less regulated services in a rapidly changing digital landscape.
This reform package will strengthen the local content obligations on regional commercial television licensees, introducing new obligations that would apply to the majority of regional free-to-air commercial television broadcasters. The package also introduces an incentive for local news to be filmed in the local area.
These proposed measures (subject to the passage of amending legislation), will commence in 2016 with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to monitor and enforce the local programming obligations.
These reforms are vital because technology is changing the way we access media. In the digital era, these regulations unfairly restrict broadcast and publishing companies from optimising the scale and scope of their operations and from accessing resources, capital and management expertise available to other media operators.
Domestic media operators must have the flexibility to compete and adapt in the changing media landscape. These proposed changes to the media control rules will allow businesses to configure themselves in a way that best suits their needs, ensuring they continue to play a significant role in the Australian community.
I believe that these reforms represent a sensible and pragmatic approach to rebalancing the regulatory settings governing the traditional media in Australia, while maintaining a framework that continues to support media diversity, global competition and local programming.
More information on the Government’s proposed media reforms can be found at mediareform.communications.gov.au
I join the Minister for Regional Development, Senator the Hon Fiona Nash in reminding interested parties they have until 15 March 2016 to submit applications for funding under Round Three of the National Stronger Regions Fund (NSRF).
The NSRF aims to support priority infrastructure projects in regional communities, stimulating jobs and growth with the latest round open to submissions from local governments and incorporated not-for-profit organisations.
Grants must be between $20,000 and $10 million and grant funding must be matched in cash on at least a dollar-for-dollar basis except for those applicants in remote and very remote locations.
For Round Three, remote and very remote applicants need to contribute at least one dollar for every three dollars of NSRF funding sought.
I encourage applicants with projects demonstrating strong long-term economic benefits and the potential to tackle local disadvantage to submit their application as soon as possible to avoid missing out.
More information on the programme is available at: www.infrastructure.gov.au/nsrf