Regional media needs help to continue telling the important local stories that no-one else will, Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie says.
The crossbencher - fresh from a widely applauded speech in the Senate passionately condemning legislation which would result in university fee hikes - reckons local media beyond the big capital cities has to be supported or it risks going out of business.
Asked to comment on the Save Our Voices campaign launched by key regional media companies, Senator Lambie said: "I'm with you that regional media needs help".
The fiercely independent Senator struck a public chord last week when she spoke against the Morrison government's changes to university funding. Her emotional speech about the impact on disadvantaged kids from regional areas like her home in North-West Tasmania went viral.
"It's essential in this country that we have really broad media voices," Senator Lambie said.
It wasn't like I chose not to go to uni. I don't remember ever making that choice. Growing up like I did, where I did, you didn't see it as an option.— Jacqui Lambie (@JacquiLambie) October 7, 2020
Uni was for other people. Other people who don't live in public housing, with dads who don't drive trucks. pic.twitter.com/W4soKOJ1sy
"What we do know about the local newspapers is they get out and about, and they do their job; they don't sit behind a bloody desk and do it from there and get it off the internet, which is rubbish.
"They need to stay out there in their local community to get those stories, and if they are not out there doing them, we won't get those stories which are really important to all of regional Australia.
"I can tell you now you can't have it all right or all left, and the last thing most of us want to see here is to have the Murdoch papers running the country. Sorry, not into it.
"If the regulations around it are making things worse, then it's common sense to say we have to look at them. But if there are other ways to keep things ticking, I'd want to look at those first."
She did not want to see local media outlets being swallowed up by a few big players.
"You can't protect media diversity by clearing the way for big players to gobble up little ones," Senator Lambie said. "You can't look at companies going bust and say that's a win for media diversity either.
"Whether a small player gets bought out or goes belly up, we're still losing them, and regional audiences get a raw deal no matter what. The goal's got to be finding a way for the sector to stay afloat, and it's something nobody's been able to fix yet."
The last thing most of us want to see here is ... Murdoch papers running the country. Sorry, not into it.Senator Jacqui Lambie
Five-time Gold Logie winner Ray Martin is the face of the Save Our Voices campaign led by broadcasters Prime Media Group, WIN Network and Southern Cross Austereo, as well as publisher ACM, the owner of this masthead.
The campaign calls on the federal government and regional MPs to move urgently to overhaul 30-year-old regulations preventing traditional media outlets in regional areas from competing fairly with the metropolitan media and global digital giants like Netflix using the NBN to reach regional audiences.