GOOD SPORT: Bryce Johns with APN journalist Matt McInerney.
GOOD SPORT: Bryce Johns with APN journalist Matt McInerney.

Your regional news is here for long haul

WHEN you're good with words it's easy to string a few sentences together and evoke emotion in viewers or readers.

It's not even like those words have to be based on fact. That's certainly the case now in our regions as our colleagues in the radio and TV game bleat about the end of the world.

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 streaming models and Australian Regional Media knows as well as anyone the financial challenges in 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 the Ipswich Advertiser, 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.

I can't see a day when regional communities will not have a strong local media voice.

Bryce Johns is the editorial director of APN Australian Regional Media.

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