The Australian government said it would consider providing funding for the national newswire Australian Associated Press (AAP) after warnings that media diversity was under threat.
Even after surviving a closure last month with support from philanthropists and impact investors, on Monday AAP launched a 500,000-Australian dollar (364,000-dollar) crowdfunding campaign in an attempt to “diversify our revenue base” and meet COVID-19 financial challenges.
Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said that “the government recognises the important role AAP plays in supporting public-interest journalism” and that he “will continue to engage with AAP as it seeks to manage these challenges,” the Guardian reported Wednesday.
In March, previous owners NewsCorp and Nine Entertainment announced plans to shut the newswire down.
News Corp has since established a rival NCA newswire, soon to be launched externally, which AAP says is a “well-funded move (that) threatens AAP’s unique role, supplying independent content.”
Pressure has been mounting on the government to step in to support the 85-year-old news agency, as it is warned of Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp’s dominance on Australian media.
“There’s only really space for one of these monopolies in the market.
“If AAP falls, the likely alternative is already waiting in the wings,” Tasmanian sentor Jacqui Lambie wrote in an op-ed in the Canberra Times on Wednesday.
“If AAP doesn’t survive, we all lose,” Lambie added.
The head of the country’s consumer watchdog Rod Sims on Wednesday said there was a compelling case for government funding, cautioning that “it would not be good for that monopoly business to be in the hands of one of the main media players.”