The Government has announced a package of measures to help sustain Australian media businesses as they do their vital work of keeping the community informed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commercial television and radio broadcasters will receive a 100% rebate on their Commercial Broadcasting Tax for 12 months.
The rebate will provide the commercial broadcasting sector with $41 million in tax relief for the use of broadcasting spectrum, backdated to start from 14 February 2020.
The rebate will help offset the sharp downturn in advertising revenue, which has significantly impacted the operating revenues of commercial broadcasters.
More information on the Commercial Broadcasting (Tax) (Transmitter Licence Tax Rebate) Rules 2020 is available on the Federal Register of Legislation.
Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.
Investing in regional journalism
The Government recognises that public interest journalism is essential to informing local communities, particularly in relation to national and global events such as COVID-19.
Public Interest News Gathering Fund
The $50 million Public Interest News Gathering (PING) program will support public interest journalism delivered by commercial television, newspaper, and radio businesses in regional Australia. PING is funded with $13.4 million of new money as well as repurposed unallocated funds from the Government’s Regional and Small Publishers Jobs and Innovation Package (RSPJIP). This implements the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s recommendation in the Digital Platforms Inquiry to enhance the RSPJIP to better support high quality news, particularly in regional and remote Australia.
On 29 June 2020, Minister Fletcher announced that 107 regional publishers and broadcasters who applied under the Public Interest News Gathering (PING) Program, were found successful to receive a share of $50 million funding committed to support news services who provide public interest journalism to regional communities.
In accordance with the PING Program Guidelines, successful grantees are listed on the GrantConnect website within 21 days of the date of effect of their grant funding agreements. To view the details of successful grantees , visit GrantConnect at www.grants.gov.au/?event=public.GA.list. Click on to the Grants Award tab and type ‘PING Grant Program 2020’ in the Keyword section and click the search icon at the bottom.
Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund 2020 Round
In addition to the PING Fund, the Government brought forward the release of $5 million from its Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund. The Innovation Fund is being independently administered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
On 5 August 2020 the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced the successful grant recipients of the 2020 Round of the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund.
41 small and regional publishers will share in the $5 million available in the 2020 Round to help them address some of the significant challenges facing the news industry.
Of the 41 successful grant recipients, 16 are from New South Wales, 12 are from Victoria, 6 are from Queensland, 2 are from South Australia, 2 are from the ACT, 2 are from Tasmania and one is from Western Australia.
The ACMA received more than 300 applications for the 2020 Round. The ACMA assessed each application against eligibility and merit criteria and was assisted by an independent advisory committee appointed by the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP.
In total, the ACMA has awarded more than $17.6 million under the Innovation Fund since 2018.
More information is available on the ACMA’s website.
Short-term red tape relief
In recognition of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on production of Australian screen content, the Government is suspending Australian programming obligations for the remainder of 2020. The suspended obligations are:
The Government may extend this suspension beyond 2020 if required.
There will be no change to the requirement for broadcasters to meet an overall 55% Australian content obligation.
For more information see our Frequently Asked Questions.
Harmonising regulation—have your say
The Government has released for public comment an options paper co-authored by the ACMA and Screen Australia. This options paper will guide the Government’s work to determine the future extent of Australian content on free-to-air television broadcasters, and whether obligations should apply to streaming services. This work is critical to the future of the culturally and economically important Australian film and television production sector.
We welcome submissions from all interested stakeholders through our have your say page. Submissions close on 12 June 2020.
The Government will also work with the industry over the next two months to further explore the ongoing issues facing the media and screen production sectors.
Further initiatives and advice
The Australian Government has announced a series of response packages to support businesses and individual incomes.
A COVID-19 Business Liaison Unit has been established with the hotline 13 28 46, which operates seven days a week, from 7am to 11pm (AEST). You can also email the team.
You can also download fact sheets with detailed information about Australian Government support for businesses to manage cash flow and retain employees on The Treasury’s website.