$50 million to support regional news

107 regional publishers and broadcasters who applied to the Public Interest News Gathering (PING) Program will receive a share of $50 million in funding committed to support regional news services in 2020-21. 
Of the 107 eligible applicants, there are 13 for radio, 92 publishers and five for television. Three applicants were successful across two streams.

There will be at $12 million of funding for regional radio broadcasters, and $20 million of funding for regional television broadcasters with 90 newspaper publishers receiving total funding of $18 million. 

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, says this funding will support newspaper businesses and commercial broadcasters across regional and remote Australia.

Consistent with the PING guidelines, grants are conditional on publishers of suspended mastheads returning them to operation and recommencing print distribution.
“These are unprecedented circumstances in regional media – with COVID-19 triggering catastrophic drops in advertising revenue leading to many newspapers suspending operations and threatening the sustainability of regional broadcasters.  
“The Morrison Government is responding to these exceptional circumstances with this specific and time-limited support measure, designed to assist the continued provision of quality news and information to communities across regional and remote Australia.
“Through this program the Government is providing $20 million for television, $18 million for publishing and $12 million for radio, with funds to flow from July.
“Public interest journalism is critical to keeping communities informed. PING will provide direct support for the continued provision of local and regional journalism, which has never been more important than in recent times when communities across Australia need access to trusted sources of news and information,” Minister Fletcher said.
“The majority of the publishers receiving grants under this program operate small‑to‑medium businesses. Local papers are the life-blood of many towns across Australia. They connect communities and keep people informed.
“Successful applicants will put these funds to good use to support a broad range of activities such as staff wages, training and technology upgrades that will allow them to keep delivering news that local communities need and want,” Minister Fletcher said.

SCA is eligible under both the regional radio stream through its 78 regional radio stations, and under the regional television stream through its network of regional television licenses, both of which provide local content to communities right around Australia.
SCA’s CEO and Managing Director, Grant Blackley, welcomed the announcement, and said, “Regional communities and businesses have been hit hard by COVID-19. As Australia’s largest regional media business, SCA is no exception.
“This funding will assist SCA‘s network of radio and television stations continue to keep 8.8m Australians and their local communities in regional and remote Australia informed about news and events that matter most to them.”

In determining funding amounts for each sector, consideration was given to the overall reach of each media sector and revenue used to produce public interest journalism.
In a door stop interview today in Melbourne, Minister Fletcher talked more about the details of the funding:

[It’s] for the provision of public interest journalism. There’s a series of specific categories for which the funding can be used. The grant agreements will set out the details there…

Essentially, the way the funding was allocated, was broadly in proportion to the revenue of each applicant within the various relevant categories of television broadcaster, radio broadcaster and newspaper publisher. Those principles were agreed. The guidelines were set… my Department has worked through, assessed each application, applicants have been required to provide certified copies of their 2018-19 accounts. Those are the figures that have been used to determine revenue and funding has been allocated based upon each recipient’s share of the revenue pool.

The Department will work with successful applicants to develop and enter into grant arrangements as soon as possible. Information on grantees will be published on GrantsConnect at www.grants.gov.au following the execution of grant agreements.






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