SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
MEMBER FOR GREENWAY
LABOR WILL SUPPORT LOCAL NEWS, COMMUNITY BROADCASTING AND JOBS
Regional, local and community media are facing challenges and uncertainty because of Scott Morrison’s failure to provide policy coherence or a stable set of support measures to help sustain the local media that millions of Australians rely on.
The Morrison Government has failed to implement properly a suite of measures to support public interest journalism, as recommended by multiple reviews and inquires, including the Final Report of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Digital Platforms Inquiry.
Regional and local newspaper publishers remain exposed to external shocks, such as newsprint price increases which threaten to wipe out local newspaper titles for good.
Community broadcasters also face uncertainty under the Morrison Government, which has ignored their calls for stability and funding.
An Albanese Labor Government will deliver a $29 million local news and community broadcasting transition package to help regional, local and community media providers from a decade of Liberal National mismanagement to a better future under Labor.
- Provide a $15 million fund for eligible regional and local newspaper publishers to help absorb newsprint price increases.
- Provide $2 million to fast-track an investment ready analysis for the replacement of the coal-fired boiler at Norske Skog’s Boyer Mill.
- Provide $12 million to maintain community broadcasting funding and give the sector the funding certainty it needs beyond the next year.
- Keep Community TV stations Channel 31 Melbourne and Channel 44 Adelaide on air until there is an alternative use for the radiofrequency spectrum they use.
- Develop a News Media Assistance Program to secure the evidence base needed to inform news media policy intervention in Australia and formulate measures to support public interest journalism and media diversity.
Labor will support local news, community media and jobs while working to formulate a principles-based, evidence-informed and sustainable framework of measures to support public interest journalism and media diversity in Australia – which has been sorely lacking under Scott Morrison.
Regional and local newspaper publishers
Labor will establish a $15 million fund to assist eligible newspaper publishers absorb newsprint price increases, comprising:
• $10 million for eligible regional newspaper publishers.
• $5 million for eligible local newspaper publishers, including independent suburban, First Nations and multicultural newspaper publishers.
Labor raised the alarm on the newsprint crisis last month and extended bipartisan support for the formulation of a crisis response during the pre-election caretaker period.
If Scott Morrison had done his job properly by supporting public interest journalism with measures that were recommended well before COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, the sector would have been on a more sustainable footing to absorb this price increase.
Labor will consult to finalise the guidelines and ensure an incoming Albanese Labor Government is ready to activate a response early in the new financial year.
Labor will provide $12 million from 2023-24 to the Community Broadcasting Program to give the sector the funding certainty it needs while working with the sector to identify a sustainable funding basis for the future.
After all community radio broadcasters have done for Australians – through bushfires, floods and the COVID pandemic – all they get from Scott Morrison is a great big question mark. Scott Morrison ignored the sector’s calls for COVID crisis funding during the pandemic and has ignored their calls for sustainable funding going forwards.
Instead of granting the usual four-year top up funding, Scott Morrison inexplicably only gave the sector two years, which runs out next year. Community broadcasting relies on just over $20 million annually to maintain existing services and supports, yet from 2023-24, government funding drops to around $17 million over the forward estimates.
Labor’s commitment will maintain community broadcasting funding so the sector can continue to support their communities with local news, emergency broadcasting and local content, including Australian music, as well as with post-COVID recovery and post-natural disaster initiatives.
Community television is a vibrant part of Australia’s media which is why Labor has fought attempts by the Liberal National government to boot it off air.
Community TV adds to media diversity, local news and content, supports local businesses and community organisations and provides a much-needed training ground for the journalists, producers and the industry talent of the future.
Labor moved a successful motion in the Senate calling for Community TV to be kept on air and helped force the Government to extend the broadcast licences for three more years, which now expire in mid-2024.
Labor will keep Community TV stations Channel 31 Melbourne and Channel 44 Adelaide on air until there is an alternative use for the radiofrequency spectrum they occupy, to ensure efficient use of this finite, scarce and valuable resource.
News Media Assistance Program
Labor considers that government intervention to support public interest journalism should be done within a principles-based and evidence-informed framework, formulated and implemented with adherence to best practice. It is unacceptable that the Liberal National government has distributed tens of millions in grants without a clear plan.
Labor will develop a News Media Assistance Program to secure the evidence base needed to inform news media policy interventions and formulate measures to support public interest journalism and media diversity.