186 publishers apply for initial Innovation Fund grants

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.


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