The Morrison Government will provide $5 million to the Australian Associated Press Limited Newswire (AAP) under the Public Interest News Gathering (PING) program.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said AAP is critical to media diversity and has consistently demonstrated its commitment to accurate, fact-based and independent journalism over its 85 year history, including a strong contribution to regional news.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered unprecedented challenges for Australia’s regional media sector, with severe declines in advertising revenue threatening the sustainability of many news outlets,” Minister Fletcher said.

“The AAP Newswire provides services to more than 250 regional news mastheads across Australia, covering public interest content on national, state and regional news. This allows regional mastheads to concentrate on local news stories important for their communities.

“Importantly, AAP also provides regional stories for national distribution so that regional issues and voices are heard across the country.

“Public interest journalism is important now, more than ever. This $5 million in funding will allow AAP to continue delivering its important news service for communities Australia-wide.

“It will also provide the Newswire more opportunities to secure additional private investment to support its long-term sustainability.”

The PING Program is designed to support media organisations to maintain or increase their production and distribution of public interest journalism in regional communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On 29 June 2020, Minister Fletcher announced that 107 regional broadcasters and publishers would receive funding under the $50 million PING Program. Almost all grant agreements have been executed and 93 successful grantees have received their first payment under the program.

The additional $5 million for AAP increases the Government’s investment in PING to $55 million.