Changes to print advertising for metro papers

The Gippsland Times will not be affected by the state government's ban on print advertising in newspapers. Photo: Stefan Bradley

REGIONAL newspapers such as the Gippsland Times will be unaffected by the state government’s recent withdrawal of advertising for major Melbourne newspapers.

The state government recently confirmed that all advertising in print media will be discontinued for major metropolitan newspapers from July 1.

This primarily affects The Age and the Herald Sun, but only the print versions. Government advertising will continue on The Age and Herald Sun websites. Advertising will also continue on radio, television, social media and digital platforms.

Premier Daniel Andrews, before the November election, promised country newspaper owners that the government will take out full-page advertisements each week in every regional newspaper across the state.

Mr Andrews said that regional newspapers were the lifeblood of country communities, giving a voice to important local issues and delivering news that is dedicated to serving local communities.

“A re-elected Labor government will strengthen and protect the future of regional media, with guaranteed advertising revenue for regional newspapers in every corner of our state,” he said.

“More than 1.5 million people live in regional Victoria, with more people migrating to the state’s regional cities and communities every year.

“Whether it’s a bushfire, a flood emergency or a global pandemic, time and time again we have seen regional newspapers step up and serve their communities in incredibly important ways.”

Multiple shadow ministers have said that seniors will suffer after the sudden call to stop advertising in major Victorian newspapers, saying a key, traditional source of public and emergency information will be lost as the focus turns to other platforms.

Shadow Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, and Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said while Victorians of all ages relied on newspapers, it was particularly important for Victorian seniors.

“The reality is we have a number of seniors who do not own smart phones or a computer, and as they have done for decades, rely on the daily papers for their information,” Mr Bull said.

“I strongly support the comments from the Council of the Ageing Victoria and Seniors Rights Victoria chief executive, Chris Potaris, that this discriminates against older people.

“And as an MP representing a rural region dependent on tourism, I also note the concern of tourism bodies warning other states will capitalise on the advertising vacuum to lure Victorians to their destinations rather that holidaying in our regions.”

Recent data from the Australian Digital Inclusion Index revealed 42 per cent of people aged above 75 could be regarded as “highly digitally excluded”.

Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, Ann-Marie Hermans, said “a significant part of the community use daily papers and notices as their source for important safety information including significant weather concerns, bushfire updates, road toll and health and safety initiatives.”

“Some of our most vulnerable community members rely on printed information for emergency updates and warnings,” Mrs Hermans said.

“Banning government print advertising significantly reduces communication with the aged and vulnerable communities who need it the most.”