JMR WITH THE MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS PAUL FLETCHER

Funds have started to flow to 107 regional news outlets across the country as part of the Morrison Government’s $50 million Public Interest News Gathering (PING) program, providing much needed support to regional television, newspaper and radio outlets during COVID-19.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP and Senator for Victoria Sarah Henderson, said the funding will enable news outlets in Geelong and Bendigo to continue serving their community by providing reliable news and information.

“I welcome the news that the Star News Group (publisher of numerous newspapers including the Geelong Indy and Ocean Grove Voice) will receive $451,302 of funding, the Midland Express based in Kyneton will receive $83,555, and the Tarrangower Times based in Maldon will receive $10,000, which will help keep local jobs and make sure quality public interest journalism continues to be available in our regional Victoria,” Senator Henderson said.

“Public interest journalism keeps our communities informed and connected, and it is especially important for people living in regional and remote areas.”

“Funding under the program will see $20 million for television, $12 million for radio and $18 million for publishing all across regional Australia, with the majority of the publishers receiving grants operating as small‑to‑medium businesses,” Minister Fletcher said.

“This funding will support a broad range of activities such as staff wages, training and technology upgrades to allow the successful recipients to keep delivering important news services to their communities.”

The PING program is just one of the relief measures the Government is providing to support the media industry during COVID-19. Other measures include $50 million for a Temporary Interruption Fund to support local film and television producers to recommence filming, $41 million spectrum tax relief for 12-months for commercial television and radio broadcasters, $5 million for the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund and temporary emergency suspension of content quotas for 2020.

Applications were considered through a demand-driven process, meaning that organisations who satisfied the eligibility criteria, including the production and distribution of public interest journalism in regional Australia, were eligible for funding.

Details of successful recipients will be available on Grant Connect: https://www.grants.gov.au/

6 August 2020