According to a survey released by the Australian Communications and Media Authority on Monday, while commercial free-to-air TV still remains the preferred platform for local news, it has dropped from 39% as first preference in 2013 to 34% in 2016.
But the biggest drop in preferences was for the local print newspapers which plunged from 30% in 2013 to 21% in 2016.
In contrast, 15% of regional Australians preferred to get their local news from websites or apps in 2016 – up from 11% in 2013. Plus there was a big lift in using social media as a source for local news – up from 3% in 2013 to 9% in 2016.
And the number sourcing their local news from social media is significantly higher among regional Australians – including regional residents aged 18-24 (31%) and 25-39 (33%), but lower for those aged 55-64 (9%) and over 65 (4%).
The ACMA research also found that most regional Australians are satisfied — 87% — with the overall quality of local news available in their local area, while 78% have access to all the local content they would like.
The findings also reveal that regional free-to-air TV news audiences are declining.
Since 2003, regional TV news audience levels have fallen in regional markets, with a greater drop in the number of people watching metropolitan TV news than local TV news.
Also revealed, was that older Australians are now the majority audience for metropolitan TV news, with 63% of viewers aged 55 and over, while only 9% are under 25.
In its report, the ACMA says the communications and media landscape in Australia has changed rapidly over the past 10 to 15 years, with major changes including:
- Structural changes – changes in mobile and fixed broadband networks, including the national broadband network rollout and expansion of 4G networks, have made it more possible for regional and remote Australians to access content online.
- New and emerging technologies — for example, LTE-broadcast and 5G mobile network technology — are likely to increase connectivity and further influence data and content consumption.
- Greater variety of content platforms and devices – there has been increased content uptake on a variety of new platforms and devices, including websites, apps, social media, subscription video on demand (SVOD), live streaming services and catch-up TV services available online.
- Media convergence – the convergence of media platforms and services continues to blur the distinctions between broadcasters and other media across the supply chain for content creation, aggregation and distribution, changing how audiences consume media.