Regional newspaper inquiry makes 12 recommendations

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The report from the Inquiry into Australia’s regional newspapers makes recommendations about federal government advertising and also talks about the emergence of hyper-local news providers such as Yanchep News Online.

A REPORT from the Inquiry into Australia’s regional newspapers released earlier today has made 12 recommendations including that the Australian Government ensure a percentage of government print advertising is placed in regional newspapers.

The House of Representatives standing committee on communications and the arts, which conducted the inquiry, recommended the Australian Government review government advertising expenditure across all departments and agencies with a view to ensuring a minimum of 20 per cent of government print advertising is placed in regional newspapers.

The committee’s report The Future of regional Newspapers in a Digital World said the advertising should be part of long term advertising contracts that provided certainty of income for regional publications.

“The committee expects this measure to be cost neutral and able to be implemented within 12 months,’’ the report said.

“An independent process should be established to select the newspaper outlets eligible to participate in the print advertising program.’’

The committee, which includes Perth MHR Patrick Gorman, also recommended the Australian Government carry out a comprehensive review of the viability of regional newspapers in Australia, reporting its findings to the committee within two years.

In another recommendation the committee said as part of the review the Australian Government should also considers the viability of a tax rebate for regional businesses that support their local newspaper through a minimum advertising spend, and for regional newspapers that produce public interest journalism and employ local journalists.

The committee also recommended the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC) and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) work with relevant digital platforms and news providers to ensure appropriate transparency in voluntary commercial deals.

All the committee’s 12 recommendations and the report are online.

The report also mentioned the emergence of hyper-local news providers such as Yanchep News Online

In its submission to the Inquiry into Australia’s regional newspapers the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) defined hyper-local as community-focused, ‘independently owned and original’ news outlets which are either print or online publishers that focus on public interest news and issues of local importance and most likely working within a particular local geography.

“The locality served by a hyper-local news organisation might be either regional or metropolitan,’’ the CBAA submission said.

CBAA said hyper-local media was important to regional and remote communities in Australia:

“Hyperlocal journalism provides a platform for targeted news, community information, and emergency warnings.

“It tells the stories that matter to local communities, advocates for them and contributes to social and community cohesiveness.

CBAA also said that hyper-local organisations have filled the gap by traditional news outlets.

In its submission the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas (JNI) said the sector would benefit from clarification on the difference between hyper-local news media and regional news media.