Australian Associated Press’ (AAP) Chief Executive says budget funding, new legislation and philanthropy will help secure the financial “sustainability” of the national newswire service and the broader media industry.
AAP received an additional $15 million from the federal government budget announced on Tuesday night.
The newswire provides content to over 400 Australian media outlets, over 250 of which are regional. AAP Chief Executive Emma Cowdroy says the service allows reporters at these outlets to focus on local and regional issues, and enables new media startups.
“The Guardian have said publicly that they could not have started in Australia without AAP. There are other new greenshoot media companies and outlets that are starting up both in print and digital across Australia, which is really heartening to see, but it’s much harder for them to do that without a newswire,” Ms Cowdroy told Medianet.
“That’s where the great value of AAP lies to media diversity and democracy across Australia.”
AAP was saved by a group of investors and philanthropists in July last year, after News Corp Australia and Nine Entertainment Co. decided to shut the company down in March 2020 due to concerns over commercial viability.
The newswire has now become a registered charity with deductible gift recipient (DGR) status.
This development will allow for growth in AAP’s services, Ms Cowdroy said. She anticipates philanthropically funded “desks”, reporting on topics such as indigenous or environmental issues, will be introduced to AAP in the “very near or immediate future”.
Ms Cowdroy said she is also hopeful that new legislation and the support of Australian news consumers will ensure the financial sustainability of the media industry in the future.
“I’m optimistic that audiences will seek out and read fact-based, accurate news reporting, and I think that Australian audiences are more aware now of the difference between fact and opinion,” she said.
“I think the mandatory bargaining code will see more money flow, and there’s already been a spate of announcements this week about where money will be spent by certain media organisations. I’m hopeful that that will have a trickle up effect for the newswire.”
AAP is not eligible to receive remuneration from Facebook and Google under the news media bargaining code introduced earlier this year, but was granted $5 million in government support in September following months of lobbying and a joint letter of support from three Senate crossbenchers.
Ms Cowdroy said the combined $20 million in funding following the budget announcement will enable the company to “continue discussions” about the sale of AAP’s products and services to corporate, not-for-profits, and state and territory governments.
“We believe AAP’s service is … unique in that it is a real-time breaking news service. And that is of value to federal and state governments, so our long-term proposition is that [they] become a subscriber to our service,” Ms Cowdroy said.
“All newswires globally have a flourishing B2B product, and that’s always been an essential revenue source for them. In the past AAP has not really progressed those discussions or opportunities in a concerted way, and that’s certainly what we’re going to be out to do now.”
Medianet was part of the AAP Group until March 2020, but was retained by Nine Entertainment Co. and Newscorp during AAP’s sale last year.
By Nell O’Shea Carre