The Federal Government today announced a suite of measures to help sustain Australian media businesses as they work to keep regional communities informed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister for Regional Communications and Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said the measures include:
• Tax relief – A 12-month waiver of spectrum tax for commercial television and radio broadcasters, regional broadcasters will benefit;
• Investing in regional journalism – A $50 million Public Interest News Gathering (PING) Fund;
• Bringing forward funding – $5 million innovation fund brought forward.
Minister Coulton said the announcement is a positive move for the nation’s regional news organisations, which are often the sole source of news for people in rural and remote areas.
“Never has Australians’ desire to be informed been stronger than now during this unfolding health and economic emergency,” Minister Coulton said.
“Despite this obvious demand for their services, media organisations in country areas are suffering serious financial pressure as the pandemic decimates advertising revenue and in many cases increases operating costs.
“Today we are delivering urgent short-to-medium-term support to our vital regional media sector.”
Minister Coulton said the support includes $41 million in spectrum tax rebates, offering immediate relief to commercial television and radio broadcasters; and a $50 million PING Fund to support public interest journalism delivered by regional commercial television, print, and radio news organisations.
“The Government recognises the vital role public interest journalism plays in strengthening and informing regional communities,” he said.
In addition to today’s announcement, the Government has brought forward the release of $5 million from its Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund.
Applications for the 2020 round will be open for four weeks, beginning in late April and closing in late May. The application and processing timeframes will be shorter than previous rounds to help business deliver public interest journalism to the community sooner.
More information about the measures announced can be found at www.communications.gov.au/media_package