Victorian regional communications policy a model for other states

Last month the Victorian Regional and Rural Development Minister Peter Ryan released a state Regional Communication Policy, and the commercial radio industry has now written to all other State Premiers and Chief Ministers urging them to consider a similar policy. While Communications is a federal policy area, states control the way they spend money with regional media and how they communicate their messages to regional populations, and this is the area the Victorian policy covers.

The Victorian policy document says “regional media is important in reaching into the community and should be explicitly considered when targeting regional audiences.” It requires a minimum of 15% of total annual campaign expenditure to be spend with regional and rural media. Read the Victorian policy here


CRA Chief executive Joan Warner says the recently announced Victorian Regional Communication Policy is “a good step” in more actively engaging with regional media outlets to communicate critical information to local communities.

“Regional media plays an important role in the lives of many Australians. Regional commercial radio stations, in particular, have a unique relationship with the nearly 80% of Australians who listen to commercial radio.”


Around 6.9 million Australians listen to commercial radio in regional Australia each week and one in five are heavy listeners of radio.


“Part of the new policy in Victoria requires government advertisers to increase expenditure in regional media outlets from 10 per cent to 15 per cent of their total campaign spend. The commercial radio industry believes this is good policy given commercial radio’s reach into local communities across regional Australia, as well as its localism, which allows both general information to be heard across regional areas, as well as targeting messages on a local level,” says Warner.


Commercial radio in regional areas has been under economic pressure over the past decade with increased operating costs and regulations and new media all affecting the bottom line. A number of regional stations have failed to make a profit in this time.

“Regional Australians use radio to keep them informed and entertained – regional radio is a vital and integral part of each local community and should be supported.”


Warner also stressed the importance of regional radio in providing information for emergency services with MOUS now existing in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland.


The Victorian policy recognises the changes to the media landscape, saying:

“The clear distinction between traditional press, radio and television are now blurred. Digital television and radio is streamed over personal computers and newspapers are read on smartphones. New media and communication mediums are constantly emerging.

“Victoria itself is also changing: people are moving in ever-greater numbers to outlying areas of Melbourne and regional centres, creating a population that is between, geographically and demographically, metropolitan and regional. This trend, which is set to continue, further demonstrates the need for flexibility and attention to local audience needs.

“The challenge now and into the future is how to effectively reach regional and rural audiences. How do you obtain the broadest reach possible or deliver a targeted message when required?”


The government will create a Regional Communication Forum to monitor the progress of its policy.


Launching the policy last month, Minister Ryan said: “Grassroots media is a major component of modern day communication and provides the broadest reach into our regions across Victoria and that will be better reflected in this new policy.” He highlighted the relationship Victoria’s regional communities have with their local media providers in connecting government to people.