The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has awarded the first round of its Innovation Fund grants aimed at supporting regional and small publishers to adapt to the evolving media environment.
The Innovation Fund is administered by the ACMA on behalf of the federal government. Announced in 2017, the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund aims to provide $16 million in grants per year for three years.
Round One of the grants saw a considerable number of NewsMediaWorks members acknowledged for their quality brands that bring trusted and valued content to Australians, including those in rural areas.
The North Western Courier spoke to NewsMediaWorks about how the grant will be used:
“We are grateful to the federal government for recognising the importance of independent community newspapers like ours.”
“We are firmly of the view that print has a long life ahead of it and is in fact the principal medium in country communities like ours and will remain so for years in our view,” said a spokesperson for the company.
“However in the face of competition from multiple on line free offerings we are moving ahead to maximise our strengths and our well established and trusted brand.”
“We plan to develop our digital offering as several comprehensive ‘go to’ sites for the community, underwritten by our presentation of truly local community news. This will work in tandem with our print products, the bi-weekly Courier and the weekly Wee Waa News.”
“The Courier welcomes the support from the Regional Publishers Innovation Fund and will utilise it for the expansion of its digital presence in several new ways.”
Ross McPherson, Executive Chairman of McPherson Media Group told NewsMediaWorks that they were very pleased to receive funding.
“[The grant] will allow us to launch our new paid digital subscription packages with more sophisticated software, reporting and support,” he said.
Applications for Round Two of the Innovation Fund grants will open in the first quarter of 2019.