Much has been said about the disruption to traditional media both here and abroad. The argument that international tech-media companies are rapidly consuming audiences and advertising revenues at the expense of Australian-owned regional media companies has been made and proved.
The conversation must now turn to the federal government's role as regulator and the opportunity to create a viable, independent local media sector for regional Australia; one that represents the views and opinions of all regional Australians, is politically neutral, verifies facts, is economically sound and freed from anachronistic media regulations introduced during the Hawke era.
When the federal government launched the NBN, it created a perhaps unintended consequence: an unfair and inequitable market that has enabled international and metropolitan media companies to compete directly with smaller newspaper, television and radio businesses in regional Australia.
The negative financial impact on regional media businesses was immediate and resulted in the loss of newspapers and local TV news services for many communities across the country. Some $40 million worth of local TV and newspaper support for local community services is also under threat.
More than 12 months on from submitting a plan to the federal government, no definitive action has been taken. The decline in regional media will accelerate as the effects of the pandemic are felt across regional communities.
Without immediate action, it is inevitable that more communities will lose their newspapers, TV news bulletins and media support for community endeavours - leaving many disconnected.
If regional Australian voices are to be maintained we need an equitable market, one where the "voices test" is based on market participation, not modes of distribution and delivery to the audience.