What is the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund?
The Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund is a program, established by the Government that will support regional and small publishers to transition to and compete more successfully in the evolving media environment. Noting this, applications will be assessed with regard to the size and location of applicants.
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]
I walk through the key aspects of the application here
When launching the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund 2020 Round, the ACMA has noted that regional and small publishers are facing additional financial pressures caused by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ACMA notes that these pressures are exacerbating the effect of the structural challenges that the Innovation Fund has been established to address.
The timing of the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund 2020 Round will therefore be shorter than previous rounds so that grant funding can be awarded and distributed to provide immediate assistance. However, applicants should be aware that the objective of the 2020 Round as set out above is to support the production of public interest journalism. It is not specifically aimed at addressing the loss of advertising revenue due to the current crisis.
The Regional Grant Opportunity
The Regional Grant Opportunity is an additional program under the Innovation Fund designed to make residual funding from round one of the Fund (up to $12.4 million) available to regional publishers and online content providers.
The Regional Grant Opportunity is targeted at regional news publishers who can demonstrate a solid business case to increase the sustainability of their publishing activities, including news gathering, production and distribution. Its objective is to provide these businesses with financial security in the medium term to allow them to take calculated risks to reorient their business models to adapt to the digital age.
The objective of the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund 2020 Round is to support the production of public interest journalism by assisting publishers (which includes content service providers) to stabilise their financial position and increase their revenue so that they are able to operate on a sustainable basis in the medium term. The grants are designed to assist publishers and content service providers:
- to increase the sustainability of their news publishing activities (including news gathering, production and distribution) in the short to medium term; or
- to develop and trial transformational or innovative models for the sustainable provision of public interest journalism and reposition their businesses to adapt to the new media environment in the longer term.
The Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund 2020 Round will meet its objective by funding proposals that achieve one or more of the following outcomes for each successful applicant in relation to its production of public interest journalism:
- improve the capacity of publishers and content service providers to generate revenue from the production of civic and public interest journalism (for example, advertising or subscription revenue); or
- support business improvement activities that sustain or strengthen the financial position of publishers and content service providers by:
- increasing readership or distribution; and/ or
- reducing operating costs through more efficient business practices; or
- encourage innovation and experimentation in digital journalism.
A total of $5 million is available for the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund 2020 Round, which will run from 24 April 2020 to 22 May 2020. The length of the application period takes into account the Government’s intention that applications are assessed quickly so that grant funding can be provided as soon as possible.
- There is no minimum grant amount.
- The maximum grant amount is $400,000 for any applicant (excluding GST).
Note that the total grant amount awarded to applicants in any given financial year (including any related bodies corporate) must not exceed $1 million. This applies where grants have been awarded in multiple rounds in the same financial year.
The mix of funded projects will be a matter for the ACMA Authority to determine. Depending on the applications received and their relative merits, at least two-thirds of total funding in the 2020 Round is expected to go to regional publishers and content service providers and not less than 25 per cent to non-regional (that is, metropolitan) publishers and content service providers.
Consistent with the requirements of the BSA, activities to be funded by a grant must concern the applicant’s activities as they relate to either the publication of the applicant’s newspaper, magazine or other periodical, or the provision of a content service.
In addition, to reflect the objective of the Innovation Fund, funded activities will directly support the provision of public interest journalism and increase the sustainability of an applicant’s news creation and publishing activities, including news gathering, production and distribution. It is expected that funded activities will be activities that support the outcomes of the Innovation Fund.
The Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund 2020 Round is intended to fund a broad range of activities that relate to the applicant’s production of public interest journalism and supports the objective and outcomes of the 2020 Round. In addition to funding investment in capital projects, eligible expenditure includes funding for activities that relate to improving the sustainability of publishers and content service providers.
Grantees can only spend the grant on eligible expenditure incurred on agreed project activities.
Eligible expenditure could encompass:
- 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 costs of acquiring new technology to assist with distributing content to a wider audience
- salaries for applicant 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 of training to upskill staff
- establishment costs of a database of reader or subscriber information
- costs to assist journalists with content production
- pilots or feasibility studies for innovative projects designed to promote the long-term sustainability of the applicant’s business and their ability to provide public interest journalism.
Applicants can satisfy the eligibility criteria in two ways:
- by demonstrating compliance with each eligibility criterion by addressing each criterion in the application form; or
- by showing that the applicant has previously been found to be eligible to apply for a grant in a previous round of the Innovation Fund or the Regional Grant Opportunity and the circumstances of the applicant’s eligibility have not changed.
Applicants must satisfy the four eligibility criteria set out below. Otherwise, an application will not proceed to the next assessment stage.
- Criterion 1: Incorporated company
- Criterion 2: Australian Business Number and GST registration
- Criterion 3: Publisher / content service provider
- Criterion 4: Annual turnover (metropolitan applicants only)
To apply for a grant under the 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.
This is because, under the BSA, the ACMA is only permitted to award grants to those entities.
Publishers and content service providers who applied for grants in the previous rounds of the Innovation Fund (including applicants who were awarded grants under those rounds) are eligible to apply to this round.
Applications close 22 May 2020.
Regional Grant Opportunity – Current Recipients
|Applicant||State / territory||Project description|
|Newcastle Newspapers Pty Ltd||NSW||To develop an audio news / podcast department.|
|SCMH Enterprises Pty Ltd ATF The Law Family Trust||NSW||To purchase a van for distribution, implement software and new system to boost its existing business.|
|Narrandera Argus Pty Ltd||NSW||To design and build a new website and content management system.|
|Warrumbungle Publications Pty Ltd||NSW||To upgrade existing website.|
|Research for Agriculture||NSW||To hold an industry event, publish and distribute an annual publication, and engage with tertiary institutions.|
|Southern Star (NSW) Pty Ltd||NSW||To build a new website and print colour wraps for its newspapers.|
|Myall Coast Communications Pty Ltd||NSW||To engage a reporter and an advertising expert and provide training to existing staff.|
|King Media Regional Pty Ltd||NSW||To develop a digital platform and increase multimedia content and editorial outputs.|
|Condobolin Argus Pty Ltd||NSW||To build digital and print circulation, update critical equipment and increase staff capabilities to improve digital presence (webpage and social media).|
|Quirindi Printing & Publishing Pty Ltd||NSW||To develop a new website, email portal and upgrade its computer systems.|
|Lynwood Press||NSW||To design and develop a new website.|
|Gilgandra Newspapers Pty Ltd||NSW||To upgrade printing equipment and develop its current digital presence and technology capabilities.|
|Locolee Pty Ltd trading as Coonamble Times||NSW||To transition from its current print and limited online presence to a fully integrated multimedia content publisher.|
|Barham Media Pty Ltd ATF Shiloh Media Trust||NSW||To implement a news website and content management system.|
|Newstate Media Newcastle Pty Ltd||NSW||To create a new website and upgrade existing IT infrastructure.|
|Central Coast Newspapers Pty Ltd||NSW||To upgrade website and develop an integrated database and content management system.|
|Wilkie Watson Publications||NSW||To redevelop existing websites and upgrade existing IT infrastructure.|
|Greysen Enterprises Pty Ltd||NSW||To redevelop website and social media platforms.|
|Sunraysia Publishing Co Pty Ltd||Vic||To purchase a customer relationship management system and a sales training program.|
|North East Media Pty Ltd||Vic||To use a content management system and digital asset manager to consolidate all publications and online media into an online newsroom.|
|Giles Newspapers Pty Ltd||Vic||To implement a new digital platform to support the online paper.|
|The Local Publishing Group Pty Ltd||Vic||To upgrade IT infrastructure and website and conduct initial marketing.|
|Mildura Weekly Pty Ltd||Vic||To implement a software solution that will streamline production and editorial functions.|
|Gippslandia Ltd||Vic||To upgrade its website, produce podcasts and conduct market research.|
|RFP Enterprises Pty Ltd trading as Bendigo Magazine||Vic||To develop a new website and upgrade its customer relationship management system, and fund an advertising consultant and a digital marketing consultant.|
|Alexandra Newspapers Pty Ltd||Vic||To publish weekly, large print editions of its newspapers.|
|Phillip Island & San Remo Advertiser Pty Ltd||Vic||To develop a news website and purchase a content management system.|
|Elliott Midland Newspapers Pty Ltd||Vic||To purchase a content management system, develop a photo sales website and online classified advertising section.|
|Tarrangower Times Pty Ltd||Vic||To purchase a digital publishing and technology package to develop a new website and content management system|
|GJ Adams Trust||Vic||To develop capacity, skills and content via training to assist transitioning to an online environment.|
|Surf Coast News Australia Pty Ltd||Vic||To purchase production equipment to establish a video and podcast content studio.|
|Warragul Regional Newspapers P/L||Vic||To acquire a content management system and develop a new website.|
|McPherson Newspapers Proprietary Limited (Trading as McPherson Media Group ‘MMG’)||Vic||To redesign existing website and content management system, and develop classified and photo sales module.|
|Warracknabeal Herald Proprietary Limited||Vic||To upgrade existing digital services capabilities with new technology, hardware and software.|
|Maryborough Regional Newspapers Pty Ltd||Vic||To design and build a new website.|
|Moscol Group Pty Ltd||Vic||To create news website driven by a content management system.|
|James Yeates & Sons Pty Ltd||Vic||To purchase production equipment for a video and podcast content studio.|
|Star News Group Pty Ltd as Trustee for Ian Thomas Family Trust||Vic||To employ editorial personnel to increase types of content distributed through the digital channels.|
|Local Media Pty Ltd||Vic||To develop an online newspaper and expand journalistic content.|
|Buloke Times||Vic||To purchase a digital publishing and technology package for a new website.|
|Elliott Gippsland Newspapers Pty Ltd trading as Latrobe Valley Express Partnership||Vic||To acquire a content management system, develop a photo sales website and online classified advertising section.|
|Junkies Magazine Australia Pty Ltd||Vic||To purchase a digital publishing and technology package including content management system.|
|Graziher Publishing Pty Ltd||Qld||To employ journalists in rural and remote areas, develop an integrated content platform and appoint a dedicated designer.|
|Australian Cybermalls Pty Ltd||Qld||To upgrade its current website and expand coverage to include real estate, business and tourism sections.|
|Spilled Ink Pty Ltd||Qld||To transition from an in-house server to a cloud-based server and acquire software upgrade and IT support.|
|Shore Media||Qld||To design and develop a new website.|
|Business News Australia Pty Ltd||Qld||To upgrade current website and implement a subscription management system.|
|Longreach Printing Company Limited||Qld||To purchase a content management system to improve digital infrastructure.|
|Portasea Pty Ltd||Qld||To purchase a digital publishing and technology package, including content management system, for a new website.|
|Diamond Valley Enterprises Pty Ltd as trustee for Lomas Family Trust||Qld||To design and develop a news website.|
|Tropic Group Pty Ltd ATF Tropic Trust||Qld||To implement a community engagement campaign and generate community created content.|
|Southern Cross Austereo Pty Ltd||Qld||To conduct a feasibility study and develop strategies for distribution of its new digital news content.|
|Kvitko Holdings Pty Ltd||Qld||To upskill content writing and graphic design skills via training.|
|Cassowary Coast Independent News Pty Ltd||Qld||To support the creation of a weekly film segment on social media.|
|Croakey Health Media Ltd||Tas||To establish a customer relationship management database, develop social media analytics and website redevelopment.|
|Propeller Media Pty Ltd||Tas||To upgrade existing publication and website.|
|Forty South Publishing Pty Ltd||Tas||To upgrade the current website and purchase content management system and customer relationship management tool.|
|YP Publishers Pty Ltd||SA||To develop a new website including a new newsroom content management system and provide training to staff.|
|Papers & Publications Pty Ltd||SA||To upgrade desktop hardware, publishing software and purchase a new phone system.|
|Beaconwood Holdings Pty Ltd||WA||To develop multi-channel online news delivery capacity.|
|Newstate Media Pty Ltd||ACT||To upgrade existing website, publishing and editorial software, and recruit journalists to assist in delivering new content.|
Communications Association Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Corporation
|NT||To establish an online news sharing platform and network.|
- Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund Guidelines
- Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund Application Form
- Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund Round 1 Recipients
03 August 2020 – Unprecedented number of applications received for 2020 Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund
The 2020 round of the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund results are expected to be announced in early August due to the large number of applications received.
Originally to be announced in July, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) now expects to announce the outcome of the 2020 round of the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund in early August following an “unprecedented number” of grant applications received.
06 April 2020 – Government releases $5M in funds to help regional publishers through COVID-19 crisis
The Morrison Government has heeded calls from regional media owners to release funds from the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund to help them operate through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government on Monday announced it had brought forward the release of $5 million from the $48 million innovation fund to support publishers producing public interest journalism during the crisis.