The ABC has announced its biggest ever single investment in regional and remote Australia, to expand the broadcaster’s coverage of news and information for audiences across the country.
The Connecting Communities package builds quickly to an extra AUD$15 million a year ongoing, with almost $4 million more to be spent on new tools and technology.
Up to 80 new jobs, delivering regional news and information, will be recruited within 18 months as part of a broader content fund announced by the ABC’s Managing Director, Michelle Guthrie.
“We want to ensure that the stories, issues and interests of the one-third of Australians who live outside the capital cities are well-represented across the gamut of ABC services and have a stronger voice in national conversations,” she said.
“The new jobs will boost video and digital reporting, increase coverage of local events and breaking news on weekends and enable reporters and program makers to spend more time in remote areas of the country.”
The ABC’s Regional Director, Fiona Reynolds, said that throughout its 85-year history, the Corporation has helped Australians share their stories, demonstrate their diversity and voice their views at a local, state and national level.
“Our teams are part of their local communities, providing them with daily news and information and supporting them through their darkest moments with emergency broadcasting. This is a critical and ongoing role for us.
“We also know that digital audiences, including on social media, have increased and will continue to in regional Australia as internet access and mobile coverage improves.
According to Mrs Reynolds, the announcement will “… allow us to maintain our highly valued existing services, like live local radio, while we expand our online, mobile and video storytelling.”
The Connecting Communities package will:
- Boost digital and video reporting capability in the regions
- Increase coverage of local events and breaking news on weekends
- Enable reporters and program makers to spend more time in remote areas
- Work with regional communities to tell their distinctly Australian stories
- Trainn and equip regional teams to develop new content, including audio and video on-demand
Mrs Reynolds said the roll-out of the increased investment would be staged and work was continuing to confirm how the new resources would be spread across the country.
“We expect to begin advertising for the first tranche of new regional staff members as early as May this year,” she added.