Regional newspaper inquiry recognises value of community radio

Frieda Lee, 23rd March 2022

A great outcome for community radio in the The Future of Regional Newspapers in a Digital World: Inquiry into Australia's regional newspapers report published by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts this week. 

The CBAA provided a submission to the Inquiry in February. We valued the opportunity to give evidence at the Public Hearing. We were grateful for the Committee's engagement with our sector and their recognition of the critical role that community broadcasters play in providing local news to regional communities.

The Committee writes, “Community radio broadcasting and television, along with news media in both print and digital are vital in providing localised news services to communities across Australia, particularly in regional and remote areas. Local media provides a range of relevant information concerning access to social services, delivering weather warnings, and providing information about community developments.”

The report showcases some of the case studies we contributed about community radio stations innovating to save their local newspapers from extinction. It tells the story of how Outback Radio 2WEB purchased The Western Herald when it was threatened with closure. It describes how local jobs were retained and the paid journalistic and editorial staff have grown from 1.5 to 5. The report devotes a whole page to our case study on the Torres Strait Islanders Media Association (TSIMA)’s 4MW who returned a local paper to Thursday Island and Outer Island Communities when their paper could no longer find a way of operating. 

The report tells how, “The newspaper journalists work in conjunction with 4MW journalists, covering stories from Thursday Island and the 14 other communities in the Outer Islands. The service provides community grassroots storytelling, information, profiling, and good news stories. It bolsters other work that TSIMA is undertaking outside of radio operation such as film, music, and events.

The Committee has commended the new models of local news emerging in our sector. They note our point about many stations providing local news online through their websites and social media. They understood that an opportunity exists for community broadcasters to evolve their business models to fill the gap left when regional publications close and recommended that the Australian Government provide funding to assist local publishers to identify and implement alternative, sustainable business models, improve organisational stability and improve audience reach. 

The report provides encouragement to the Government to support our sector and increase our capacity to fill news deserts and counter the loss of regional newspapers in communities around Australia. We look forward to working with Government to implement the recommendations.

Our submission can be accessed on our Submissions Page.

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The Torres Strait Islanders Media Association (TISMA) saw an opportunity to share resources between its community radio station, 4MW, and the newspaper when they were approached by the Bousen family. After the paper closed in 2021, the family gifted the newspaper to TSIMA and Torres News returned to the community.


The CBAA has made a submission to the Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts’ inquiry into Australia’s regional newspapers showcasing the innovative work community broadcasters are doing in the local news space.


We’ve had a busy start to the year and things are getting busier with the 2022 Federal Election fast approaching. Here is a snapshot of our advocacy efforts and impacts since the last sector leadership update in December 2021.