The Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton said the Federal Government’s $60 million announcement of a number of new media measures will 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)
Mr Coulton said the new measures will be a welcome support for regional media organisations which are facing new challenges in the digital age.
“This is quite good news for our part of the world,” he said.
“The small country newspapers and radio stations right across my electorate will now have some incentives to encourage young people, and hopefully locals, to take up a career in journalism.
“This will also allow our local media to adapt to the changing climate there are real threats from the digital media and online platforms. People are more and more likely to get their information online rather than the local newspaper. There needs to be assistance for those papers to transition over to connect to people online.
“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 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.
Minister for Communications, Senator 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.
“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,” Mr Coulton said.