“We get it” – that was the message from Prime Minister Scott Morrison regarding the impact a changing media environment has had on regional news services.
During a visit to the Illawarra on Thursday, the Prime Minister was asked when his government would “get serious” about a long-term solution to ensure regional broadcasters have a future.
“It is a tough market for regional broadcasters – that’s not new,” Mr Morrison said.
“The Deputy Prime Minister [Michael McCormack] ran a regional newspaper, and it’s been a long time since the paper he used to run has actually employed a new journalist.
“That is sadly the consequence of a lot of the changes we’ve seen in digital media, and global media, and technology over the past many decades.
“But that has accelerated, and these forces are real, we can’t pretend they’re not there.
“It’s been vital in the work that I’ve been doing with the Treasurer [Josh Frydenberg] and the Communications Minister [Paul Fletcher] through the mandatory code that we’re working on with Google and Facebook in particular, to ensure that these technologies do not overwhelm the ability for there to be commercial news broadcasters and services here in Australia.”
There have been calls for politicians of all persuasions and levels to actively protect local journalism and help ensure the survival of local news organisations in the face of global challenges.
Google has launched a public campaign to fight Australia’s proposed News Media Bargaining Code, which is aimed at forcing global giants such as Google and Facebook to pay Australian media companies for the news content they run on their platforms.
If the draft media code becomes law, Facebook has threatened to block Australian publishers and users from sharing news on Facebook and Instagram.
“We need to put in place rules and regulations that are fit for today’s media environment,” Mr Morrison said while at Port Kembla.
“The rules that were put in place for regional media many years ago I think people would rightly argue have seen their day.
“The Communications Minister will have more to say about this at an appropriate time.
“But what I want to assure you is, we get it. We know the world has changed, we know that is impacting on regional news services.
“We’ll have more to say about it, but there’s a lot more policy work to be done to get the settings right.”
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