MICHELLE ROWLAND MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
MEMBER FOR GREENWAY
REGIONAL MEDIA SNAPS BACK – AT MINISTER
Government mishandling of regional media support under the Public Interest Newsgathering Fund (PING) has industry warning of further closures, a weak economy and severe disadvantage to small independent voices in the regions.
Uncertainty with both JobKeeper and the suitability of funding conditions under the PING mean some regional media companies may be forced to refuse or return government grants meaning further regional jobs, news bulletins and broadcast signals may soon be lost.
Meanwhile small independent voices across publishing and broadcasting warn they are being crowded out of much-needed funding, with the regional and remote communities they serve missing out on their fair share as a result.
Answers to Questions on Notice (No. 126) show the PING has been confused from the get-go. Half a response to COVID and half a response to the ACCC’s recommendations in the Digital Platforms Inquiry, it comes a year after the ACCC recommended it and falls at least $100 million short of what was needed before COVID and the recession.
Labor understands the dire straits the regional media sector is in which is why we wrote to the Deputy Prime Minister requesting that funds from the $1 billion regional and community fund be applied to support regional media. To date he has not been forthcoming to assist a sector which has been hit by digital disruption, drought, flood, coronavirus and now recession.
Contrary to recommendations the PING be administered at arms-length, the Minister installed himself as decision-maker and he is responsible for its inadequacies and distortions when it comes to regional media diversity.
The Minister has been slow and unrealistic about the scale of the problem confronting regional media for the entire year he has been in the job.
This Government needs to snap out of it and get real on regional media.
TUESDAY, 7 JULY 2020