Up to $1M is available from Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund to support regional and small publishers to transition and compete successfully in the evolving media environment.
Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund
The Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund is a competitive grants program providing a total of up to $16 million per year over three financial years, from 2018–19. The Innovation Fund is a component of Program 1.2 in the 2018–19 Portfolio Budget Statement for the ACMA. It aims to support publishers and content service providers to transition and compete more successfully in the evolving media environment. The grants will be able to be used by publishers for initiatives that support the continuation, development, growth and innovation of Australian civic journalism, including initiatives that explore and expand the journalism-funding model.
As part of the landmark reforms being made to Australia’s media laws, the Turnbull Government will provide much needed support to regional and small publishers through the $60 million Regional and Small Publishers Jobs and Innovation Package.
This Package includes:
- the $50 million Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund
- the Regional and Small Publishers Cadetship Program, which will support 200 cadetships, and
- 60 regional journalism scholarships.
The Government recognises that the media industry is in significant transition and that this poses great challenges for small publishers and small regional newspapers in particular. The business models that have traditionally supported journalism—particularly those funded by advertising revenue—are being challenged, and the need to adapt successful subscriber and revenue models is proving especially demanding for smaller publications. The provision of quality journalism is under pressure.
- Quality journalism is an important underpinning of our democracy, and access to locally relevant factual journalism is important to developing and maintaining strong regional communities.
- Effective journalism also plays a vital role in holding our institutions to account and creates a framework in which complex issues can be understood, offering the public reliable information to support decisions in political, economic and social life.
The objective of the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund is to encourage small and regional news publishers (which includes publishers of newspapers, magazines or other periodicals, as well as content service providers that provide online news services and journalism) to develop and trial sustainable models for the provision of public interest journalism.
For the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund to meet its objectives, it will achieve the following outcomes:
- support projects aimed at improving the capacity of small and regional news publishers and content service providers to generate revenue from the production of public interest journalism
- encourage innovation and experimentation in digital journalism
- support business improvement activities to strengthen the financial position of small and regional news publishers and content service providers.
The Australian Government has announced a total of $48 million over three years for the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund.
Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund grants will be provided on a per project basis in three tiers:
- Small grants of up to $20,000—intended to support early stage projects to develop and plan new ways of producing and disseminating journalistic content. A small project, for example, might be the first step in a phased program of work that the applicant intends building and extending over time (at their own cost). Other examples of small grants might be to support small-scale IT upgrades.
- Medium grants from $20,001 to $250,000—intended to support the pilot or trial of initiatives to improve the way a news media business develops and publishes public interest journalism. Such projects may test or demonstrate the commercial and audience potential of new applications or initiatives.
- Large grants from $250,001 to $1 million—intended to support large-scale projects that will have a significant impact on the provision and availability of public interest journalism. Large grants would be allocated for transformative projects, overhauling the way a news publisher operates in the digital media environment. These projects will improve the availability of public interest journalism for existing audiences, with genuine potential to increase that audience.
Consistent with the objective of the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund, funded activities will directly support the provision of public interest journalism. They will deliver innovative and transformative outcomes that improve how a publisher develops and distributes public interest journalism. Grants will not be made available for projects that represent ‘business-as-usual’ with little or no change in the way the applicant produces journalistic content or the way that it reaches its audience.
As a guide, it is expected that Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund activities may fall into one or more of several broad streams:
- Efficiency measures—initiatives that deliver savings in terms of the costs of generating, collating and publishing public interest journalism content, particularly those that harness technologies and exploit the benefits of collaboration.
- Digital projects—initiatives that enable publishers and content service providers to use online platforms to broaden their audience, such as video streaming services, digital editions or news apps.
- Revenue development projects—initiatives that seek to develop and grow new sources of revenue for publishers and content service providers who are providing public interest journalism.
Consequently, when outlining the project proposal, applications should demonstrate how a project will support the provision of public interest journalism by fitting into one or more of the above streams, and how the activities to be undertaken under the project fall within the suitable categories for grants expenditure (set out below).
Categories of expenditure suitable for the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund will be relatively broad, including:
- project delivery costs (that are directly related to the project)
- purchase or lease of assets and equipment (particularly technology)
- commissioning advice or contracting services from third parties
- acquisition of relevant intellectual property or other rights.
The following Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund list is non-exhaustive, but provides some examples:
- Project delivery costs—costs paid to a vendor or contractor to install equipment or systems required to deliver the agreed outcomes for the project. They must be reasonable and appropriate for the activities performed by the vendor or contractor. They must not include expenditure for staff employed by the applicant or any overheads associated with such staff.
- Commissioning—this may relate to commissioning feasibility studies or planning work (likely to be applicable for small grants) through to commissioning full IT builds or installations (more likely to be applicable for medium or large grants).
- Intellectual property and technology—the costs of acquiring intellectual property and the costs of acquiring and installing new technology. Ongoing maintenance, repairs or depreciation are not eligible.
- Plant and equipment—the costs of assets that are directly and solely used to achieve the project outcomes. This may take the form of acquisition costs or lease costs, with the latter limited to those incurred for the duration of the grant agreement. Repairs, maintenance or depreciation will not be funded.
- Staff training—the cost of training staff that directly supports the achievement of project outcomes.
- Audit and assurance—the costs of financial auditing of project expenditure.
To be eligible to apply for a grant under the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund, applicants must meet statutory criteria set out in section 205ZH of the BSA, namely that an applicant is either:
- a constitutional corporation that publishes a newspaper, magazine or other periodical; or
- a content service provider.
Applications for the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund close 10 August 2018.
Top 18 Tips to Get This Grant
These are the things you will need to focus on in order to get this grant
- Strategy – how the proposed project aligns with, and supports, your own strategies for business growth and the sustainable production of public interest journalism
- Go or No Go – whether the project will proceed, in whole or part, without support from the Innovation Fund.
- Adapt – how you could or will adapt your business to take on the improvements and innovations from the proposed project
- Skills – your current and proposed access to appropriately skilled and experienced project personnel
- Resources – your current and proposed access to the infrastructure, capital equipment and technology necessary to deliver on the proposed project
- Intellectual Property – how you have or will secure beneficial use of any IP necessary to complete the proposed project
- Competitiveness – how the proposed project will improve the competitiveness of you.
- Costs – that the project is a cost-effective way to deliver the intended outcomes of the Innovation Fund
- Risks – the risks associated with the proposed project and how these risks will be managed
- Finances – how you will monitor the performance of the proposed project and manage the financial aspects of the grant funding
- Governance – how you will provide suitable and effective governance arrangements to successfully deliver the proposed project.
- Revenue – how the proposed project will improve the capacity of you to generate revenue from the production of civic and public interest journalism
- Innovation – how the proposed project will encourage innovation and experimentation in digital journalism
- Financial Position – how the proposed project will support business improvement activities that will strengthen the financial position of you within the level of grant funding being sought
- Sustainability – your capacity to maintain and extend the benefits of the project beyond the grant funding period
- Measurement – how you will measure the effectiveness of the proposed project, including audience reach and impact.
- Justification – how the grant amount sought for the proposed project represents a proportionate and appropriate allocation of resources relative to the scale of the proposed project
- Detail – how your budget for the proposed project contains an adequate level of detail and is appropriate to achieve the proposed project activities.
Contact me if you need more assistance with the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund [email protected]
186 companies have applied for the first round of the Federal government’s Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has revealed.
The fund, part of the Federal government’s media reforms package to help small and regional publishers deal with digital disruption, was due to launch in July, but was held up to legislation problems.
The scheme’s three-year competitive grants program is open to regional publishers, small publishers and content providers for initiatives supporting the continuation, development, growth and innovation of Australian civic and public interest journalism.
Under the fund up to $16 million will be available per annum over the next three financial years across three categories.
24 small publishers applied for the lowest tier of grants which offer up to $20,000 to support early stage projects developing new ways of producing and disseminating journalistic content.
Most applicants, a total of 103, chose to bid for the middle tier of grants offering between $20,001 to $250,000 to trial initiatives that improve the development and distribution of public interest journalism.
59 publishers applied for the large grant category which offers payments of over $250,000 for projects promising a significant impact on the provision and availability of public interest journalism.
In announcing the applicants, ACMA also released details of an advisory committee to provide advice to the agency on the scheme.
Chairing the advisory committee will be PWC’s Meghan Brownlow Industry (PWC) with the Walkley Foundation’s Louisa Graham, Anna Reynolds of the Australian Press Council, former SMH editor and UTS academic Peter Fray, along with internet entrepreneur and NBN director Michael Malone.
There will be two more annual rounds of funding grants with information about round two of the fund expected from February 2019.