South West Greens MLC Diane Evers has called on the McGowan Government to ensure regional and independent media publications do not fall victim to the COVID-19 crisis, as outlets nationwide suffer the impacts of falling advertising revenue.
Ms Evers, The Greens (WA) spokesperson for regional development, highlighted that regional areas comprised 95 per cent of Western Australia and the survival of trusted news sources was important to consider in the state’s recovery.
Ms Evers said she was concerned that the impact on independent and community publishers will be critical in the regions, while the impact on larger media groups will be felt more broadly across the country.
Seven West Media announced it had gone into a trading halt on the Australian Securities Exchange on Wednesday and last week News Corp announced it would suspend print editions of 60 local newspapers across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.
While such closures had not yet affected Western Australia, some regional broadcast organisations have flagged the possibility of stopping news bulletins and shutting down broadcast signals due to financial pressure brought on by the COVID-19 crisis.
QUOTES ATTRIBUTED TO DIANE EVERS MLC:
“Western Australia has a long history of regional media providing a fabric for connection across the largest state in the country.
“Digital technology and social isolation have combined to exacerbate our geographic isolation, putting digital and social media front-and-centre of our consumption.
“This has been a valuable development while we seek to remain connected to our communities during this time, as well as important government advice, but a loss of diversity and structure in the media landscape would be detrimental post-COVID.
“Our public broadcasters ABC and SBS have continued to be leaders in the production of independent news during this time, and diversity of both opinion and ownership of media across Australia provides better balance and opportunities for democratic debate.
“Media diversity in content and format is everyone’s right and regional content should be strongly supported – if regional publications cannot survive through this crisis, it will be all Australians who suffer.
“This not only includes consumers, but also journalists and staff who will see their industry shrink as a result.
“The Federal Government has committed $5 million of relief to the media sector, but this miserly amount will surely have little impact during a time of economic devastation.
“The concentrated media ownership in Western Australia is also likely to focus its resources towards metropolitan areas, where audiences are larger, eroding regional communities’ ability to remain informed.
“I call on the WA Government to ensure steps are taken to offer targeted support to regional and independent media throughout this crisis period as part of ongoing stimulus measures – this is a matter in the public interest.”
The Australian Greens believe that:
- Freedom of the press and effective, affordable and accessible media and communications systems are integral to the functioning of a successful democratic society
- Media diversity in content and format is everyone’s right
- Australian content should be strongly supported and well-funded
- Strong, independent public and community media are an essential part of Australia’s media sector
GET IN TOUCH:
Hon. Diane Evers
MLC for South West
(08) 9486 8070