Research has found an overwhelming support among Australians in regional and rural areas for the Federal Government to update outdated media laws so local news services remain viable.
The study by JWS Research in September spanned regional NSW, Victoria and Queensland for Australias four main independent regional broadcasters found:
- 86 per cent regard access to local TV news bulletins as important or very important
- 85 per cent are concerned about losing their local news bulletin
- 81 per cent believe regional broadcasters play an important role in covering local events and issues and keeping local communities informed
- 88 per cent are worried about losing touch with their local community if local news is cut back
- 82 per cent supported changes to media rules that would help regional broadcasters continue to provide local news services.
In August, regional broadcasters PRIME, WIN, Southern Cross Austereo and Imparja launced the Save Our Voices (SOV) campaign to highlight the risks of further cutbacks and closures of local news services unless media laws were updated and reformed.
The campaign is asking for the ‘reach’ rule and the ‘two our of three’ rule in the Broadcasting Services Act to be repealed. SOV argues the ‘reach’ rule which prevents broadcasters from reaching more than 75 per cent of the population is now redundant given that major commercial broadcasters, internet services and pay TV can already reach 100 per cent of the country via streaming.
The ‘two out of three’ rule prevents any one company or individual from owning newspaper, television and radio outlets in a licence area but ignores all other media platforms that have emerged since 1992 when the rule was introduced.
Former deputy prime minister and Nationals leader Tim Fischer who has lent his support to the campaign said: “These survey results show overwhelmingly and unambiguously that the old media laws are out of date and must change if local voices, local stories and local issues are to get the attention they deserve.”