Broad­cast scare cam­paign will not take our lo­cal voice

Whitsunday Times - - WHITSUNDAY VIEWS - By Bryce Johns

YOU may have no­ticed broad­cast ad­verts in the past week or so pro­mot­ing a Save Our Voices cam­paign.

It says re­gional news­rooms are at risk and peo­ple liv­ing out­side the big cities may not have their sto­ries told in the fu­ture. It is a gross ex­ag­ger­a­tion. Yes, media has been un­der pres­sure. The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has taken the knife to the ABC’s fund­ing; TV news­rooms in our patch have closed as view­ers and ad­ver­tis­ers move to online mod­els; and Aus­tralian Re­gional Media knows well the fi­nan­cial chal­lenges of pro­duc­ing a qual­ity re­gional news ser­vice.

But it’s im­pos­si­ble to think media will exit big re­gional towns en masse.

The 12 daily pa­pers, dozens of com­mu­nity pa­pers and the many web­sites we have across re­gional Queens­land and north­ern New South Wales, in­clud­ing this site, nearly all have bright fu­tures. They are es­sen­tial to lo­cal busi­nesses and to read­ers.

Yes, the in­dus­try is grap­pling with change, but it is wrong to say re­gional peo­ple won’t have a voice.

We are com­mit­ted and the strong will sur­vive.

The Save Our Voices cam­paign is an at­tempt to get a re­view of the TV reach rule, which pre­vents a free-to-air broad­caster such as Nine from hav­ing ac­cess to more than 75% of the na­tional au­di­ence.

If that is bro­ken down, re­gional broad­cast­ers such as WIN and Prime could be bought by the big boys. Is Nine go­ing to be more com­mit­ted to your town than a re­gional broad­caster?

The Save Our Voices cam­paign is broad­cast­ers’ self­ish way of look­ing af­ter their own in­ter­ests at the ex­pense of any­one else in this game. They are not pro­vid­ing bal­anced cov­er­age of the is­sues.

To re­it­er­ate: I can’t see a day when re­gional com­mu­ni­ties will not have a strong lo­cal media voice.

Bryce Johns is ed­i­to­rial di­rec­tor of APN Aus­tralian Re­gional Media.

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