Federal government’s small publishers innovation fund to launch next month

The Federal government’s regional small publisher innovation fund has passed its last legislative hurdle, with applications expected to open in the next two weeks.

Grants were originally planned to start from the beginning of July, however the scheme was held up by delays in the Senate as the Australian Communication and Media Authority waited for legal standing to administer the program.

Part of the delay in passing the legislation was due to disagreements about the eligibility of foreign-owned smaller publishers such as The Guardian and Mumbrella. ACMA has been contacted to clarify the eligibility of those outlets.

The grants, which were part of the deal made by the government to secure its media reform package last year, are intended to help eligible publishers and content providers to compete in the evolving media environment.

Up to $16 million will be available per annum over the next three financial years across three categories.

Small grants of up to $20,000 are intended to support early stage projects developing new ways of producing and disseminating journalistic content. These can include small-scale IT upgrades or stages of technology projects.

Grants valued between $20,001 to $250,000 will be intended to trial initiatives that improve the development and distribution of public interest journalism.

Large grants of over $250,000 will be given to projects promising a significant impact on the provision and availability of public interest journalism.

The grants, which ACMA will award on a case-by-case basis, will not be available for projects that represent ‘business as usual’ activities, that do little in the way of changing how a publisher produces or distributes its journalistic content.

In its guide to applicants, ACMA suggests funding may be given to projects that offer efficiency measures, improve digital delivery such as video streaming services, digital editions or news apps, and revenue initiatives that find new income sources for publishers and content service providers.

ACMA has invited potential applicants to sign up for their notification service ahead of the scheme opening.


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