Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton has today announced that the Cobar Weekly will receive a $12,627 grant to support employee wages, after being successful in the Public Interest News Gathering (PING) program.
Funds have started to flow to 107 regional news outlets across the country as part of the $50 million program, providing much needed support to regional television, newspaper and radio outlets during COVID-19.
“This is fantastic news for the Cobar community, which will help keep local journalists in jobs and ensure quality reporting continues to be available in the district,” Mr Coulton said.
“It’s been a challenging time for news outlets right around my electorate, with the drought and now COVID-19 putting a strain on local economies, so I know these funds will be a real lifeline for the Cobar Weekly team.
“It is so important our country communities remain informed and connected. The Cobar Weekly is a vital source of news for people in the region, which is why I’m so proud that the Federal Coalition Government is providing this critical support.
“Congratulations to Managing Editor Sharon Harland and the rest of the team on your success – what a great win for Cobar.”
Ms Harland said the Cobar Weekly was thrilled to be a recipient of funding under the PING program.
“This news couldn’t have come at a better time for us,” Ms Harland said.
“Like many other small businesses, we’ve been negatively affected by the pandemic and had to make a number of cutbacks.
“The grant will ensure that we can hold on to our current staff and that the Cobar community will be able to continue to read their “Little Paper” each week.
“By making this funding available to regional publishers, it shows that the Australian Government understands how important local newspapers are to their communities as being one of their most trusted sources of information.”
The PING program is just one of the relief measures the Government is providing to support the media industry during COVID-19. Other measures include $50 million for a Temporary Interruption Fund to support local film and television producers to recommence filming, $41 million spectrum tax relief for 12-months for commercial television and radio broadcasters, $5 million for the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund and temporary emergency suspension of content quotas for 2020.
Funding under the program will see $20 million for television, $12 million for radio and $18 million for publishing across regional Australia, with most publishers receiving grants operating as small to medium businesses.
Applications were considered through a demand-driven process, meaning that organisations who satisfied the eligibility criteria, including the production and distribution of public interest journalism in regional Australia, were eligible for funding.
Details of successful recipients will be available on www.grants.gov.au