What is the Public Interest News Gathering Program?

The Public Interest News Gathering (PING) Program is a grant opportunity to support regional broadcasters and publishers to maintain their production and distribution of public interest journalism in regional Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic phase.

 

Background

The Public Interest News Gathering Program implements the Government’s response to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Digital Platforms Inquiry by replacing the remaining Regional and Small Publishers Jobs and Innovation Package.

Adding to the strong case for support already made by the ACCC is the increasing economic disruption resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The enhanced program will provide direct support for the continued provision of local and regional journalism, which has never been more important than in recent times when communities across Australia need access to trusted sources of news and information.

The Public Interest News Gathering Program will meet its objective by enabling regional television and radio broadcasters, and regional publishers, to continue to provide public interest journalism to regional and remote communities across Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Funding

There is a total of $50 million (GST exclusive) available under the Public Interest News Gathering Program.

Funding for this Grant Opportunity will be allocated across three streams:

  • Stream 1: Regional commercial television, including their online services, which produce and broadcast public interest journalism in regional markets, to be apportioned using a grant funding allocation formula based on their proportion of annual revenue compared to the total combined revenue of eligible Stream 1 applicants.
  • Stream 2: Regional commercial radio, including their online services, which produce and broadcast public interest journalism in regional markets, to be apportioned using a grant funding allocation formula based on their proportion of annual revenue compared to the total combined revenue of eligible Stream 2 applicants.
  • Stream 3: Regional publishers, which produce and publish public interest journalism in regional markets, to be apportioned using a grant funding allocation formula based on their proportion of annual revenue compared to the total combined revenue of eligible Stream 3 applicants. Grants in Stream 3 will have a minimum grant amount of $10,000 (exc GST).

There is no maximum grant amount per grantee but grants cannot exceed the amount of available funds. Each applicant may lodge only one application for this Grant Opportunity but can apply for funding through more than one stream.

 

Eligible Projects

Grants awarded under this Opportunity are intended to fund a broad range of activities that relate to the applicant’s production and distribution of public interest journalism in support of the objective and outcomes of the Program as outlined in section 2 of the guidelines. In particular to maintain or increase their production and distribution of public interest journalism in regional Australia during the grant period.

Eligible expenditure must primarily be for the applicant’s production and distribution of public interest news journalism during the Grant period and without limitation, includes:

  • purchase or lease of assets and equipment 
  • acquisition of relevant content, intellectual property or other rights
  • the costs of acquiring technology to assist with production or distribution of content
  • salaries for employees that are directly connected to the production of public interest journalism or to the generation of revenue to fund the production of public interest journalism
  • costs to assist journalists with content production and distribution
  • costs of staff training 
  • office and travel costs related to public interest journalism
  • other costs that directly support the production and distribution of public interest journalism. 

 

Eligible Applicants

To be eligible to apply for a grant under this Opportunity you must:

  • have an Australian Business Number (ABN) (the ABN number must be supplied with the application)
  • be registered for the purposes of GST
  • not be a foreign controlled Australian entity (as defined in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997)
  • not currently be insolvent
  • be a Regional Television Broadcaster or Regional Radio Broadcaster, or Regional Publisher
  • demonstrate that you provide public interest journalism to local communities. This should include the production and distribution of local news. 
  • not be formally affiliated with a political party, union, financial institution, NonGovernment Organisation or policy lobby group where that affiliation would influence, or might be seen to influence, the content produced by the applicant.

A Regional Television Broadcaster is a holder of a regional commercial television broadcasting licence as defined in section 61CU of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA).

A Regional Radio Broadcaster is a holder of a regional commercial radio broadcasting licence as defined in section 61CA of the BSA.

A Regional Publisher is a provider where:

  • their primary operations are located in a regional area, and
  • their news and journalistic output is targeted to readers and audiences in one or more regional areas.

Applicants will be required to nominate for funding streams outlined below:

  • Stream funding pool 1: Regional Television Broadcasters
  • Stream funding pool 2: Regional Radio Broadcasters
  • Stream funding pool 3: Regional Publishers

Applicants can apply for funding through more than one stream using the one application.

Organisations that operate in both metropolitan and regional areas are eligible to apply for funding, however if successful, funding will only be provided for their regional operations. These organisations will need to provide detailed financial evidence demonstrating the proportion of their revenue attributed to regional markets.

Applicants that operate across numerous regional markets are only required to submit one application. Similarly, applicants that are controlled by a metropolitan or international corporation are only required to submit one application.

 

Timing

Applications close  29 May 2020.

 

More Information