Both the Federal Liberal and Labor parties have committed to invest in multicultural and community media outlets if they are re-elected at the upcoming elections on May 21.
In an announcement made today, a re-elected Coalition Government has committed to provide $5 million through the Public Interest News Gathering program to support eligible local newspaper publishers with the rising costs of newsprint, including multicultural, First Nations and independent suburban newspaper publishers.
The Morrison Government has also committed to engaging with the sector to support their long-term viability as print and digital publishers, and support their work to modernise and better engage with mainstream advertisers.
In a statement, the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Communities, Alex Hawke MP, said: “The investment is in recognition of the important role multicultural media play in supporting the effective settlement of migrant communities, assisting with ongoing cultural connection, and to support the sector as it faces significant pressures in rising costs and modernisation.”
The Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher MP, said the commitment shows the Coalition Government understands local newspaper publishers “are under pressure due to the dramatically rising costs of newsprint driven by ongoing volatility overseas.”
“We will move urgently to deliver the funding, with payments expected to be made early in the new financial year,” Minister Fletcher added.
“This builds on the $10 million the Coalition has committed to support regional newspaper publishers.”
Earlier in the day, Shadow Minister for Communications and Member for Greenway, Michelle Rowland, also announced the Labor Government has committed to invest a total $29 million in regional, local and community media if elected.
“Regional, local and community media are facing challenges and uncertainty because of the Government’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 announcement reads.
More specifically, Labor’s local news and community broadcasting transition package is intended to help regional, local and community media providers and will provide:
- A $15 million fund for eligible regional and local newspaper publishers to help absorb newsprint price increases.
- $2 million to fast-track an investment ready analysis for the replacement of the coal-fired boiler at Norske Skog’s Boyer Mill.
- $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.
Independent Multicultural Media Australia (IMMA) and its members, including The Greek Herald, have welcomed Labor’s announcement of $5 million for independent multicultural, local and First Nations publishers, “who have been excluded from digital transformation grants since 2018 and further grants during the pandemic.”
“Independent multicultural media deliver vital public interest journalism, we talk to, and for, our communities, across generations, in diverse languages, and in English,” a spokesperson for IMMA said.
It is worth mentioning, there are currently over 250 multicultural, local and First Nations publishers across Australia.