More funds and big tech regulation needed to save public interest journalism

The release of funding for regional media outlets is welcome but much more than $5million is needed and big tech must be forced to pay for content if public interest journalism is going to survive, the Greens say.
The Greens have been calling on Communications Minister Paul Fletcher to use the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund to support struggling regional media outlets who’ve been pushed to the brink with COVID-19.
Greens Spokesperson for Media Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said:
“The release of funding from the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund is welcome but $5million is not enough.
“Regional newspapers have already closed their doors across the country and many more are heading towards the same fate. The Minister needs to explain whether those who have already shut will be funded to restart their presses, and who will be eligible and how much can they receive?
“It seems the Minister has expanded the eligibility criteria yet hasn’t released all of the Fund or put additional money towards it, he should do that immediately or explain why he won’t.
“COVID-19 is the straw that’s broken the camel’s back, it isn’t the cause of the struggles of public interest journalism.
“Big tech like Facebook and Google have been ripping off small players and individual journalists for too long and they must be regulated better.
“Minister Fletcher needs to act on the ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry recommendations now. Waiting until November for tech giants and media companies to reach a deal will mean more news outlets hit the wall.
“The Government needs to step in now and force big tech to pay for the content they use. It’s time big tech played fair, that’s what will really help keep Australian journalists in their jobs.
“The Government must also reverse its cuts to the ABC. The public broadcaster has doubled its audience in the last month and is the only news source in many regional areas and will increasingly be so in more locations if the media landscape in Australia isn’t urgently reformed.
“Strong media and journalism is vital for a robust democracy especially at a time when there is unprecedented power being exceeded by Government in the midst of this global pandemic.”

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