• Loddon Herald

Webster chairs regional news review

Australia’s regional news services will be the focus of a new Federal Parliament inquiry.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts will hear evidence on newspaper services in rural, regional and remote areas.

Committee Chair, Dr Anne Webster MP, said ‘local news is a vital component to an interconnected community, and a thriving democracy.’ Dr Webster added, ‘particularly in smaller markets, having a choice in where to access your news coverage is not always possible.’

A recent survey has found that Australians living in regional communities are far more likely to go to their local news or newspaper website for information than other accessible online sources like search engines, social media sites or local council websites.

Dr Webster said, ‘at a time when many regional and remote newspaper services are shutting down or moving online, it is vital that we understand the needs of regional communities, and how heavily they rely on their local newspapers to stay connected.’

As part of the inquiry the Committee will examine the impact of decisions by large publishers to suspend publication of print editions; entry into these or other markets by new operators, particularly small businesses; impact of the News Media Bargaining Code for regional and remote newspapers; and the economic recovery in regional and remote markets from the impacts of COVID, and whether this has led to advertising revenue improving.

The terms of reference are available from the inquiry webpage. Submissions can also be made through the webpage, or by email to communications.reps@aph.gov.au until January 28 2022.



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