Regional Australians put their trust in TV local news | ACMA

Regional Australians put their trust in TV local news


Regional Australians report that television (34 per cent) and print media (21 per cent) are their most preferred sources of local news, with commercial television being the most trusted (21 per cent), according to Australian Communications and Media Authority research released today.

Local content in regional Australia—2017 report also shows that 86 per cent of regional residents believe local news is important and 87 per cent are satisfied with its overall quality.

‘There are interesting findings about where regional Australians go to access local news,’ said acting ACMA Chairman Richard Bean.

‘For example the proportion of regional Australians using social media (18 per cent) and websites (26 per cent) to access local news has significantly increased since 2013.

‘The 2017 report also presents new findings on the availability of, and preferences for, local news, sport, weather and community events, with a particular focus on the way age influences how regional Australians access local news,’ he added.

Older regional Australians use and prefer traditional sources such as television, newspapers and radio for local content and local news, while younger regional Australians have significantly increased their use of and preference for online sources such as websites and social media.

Regional Australians are more likely to report having access to all the local content they would like in areas where commercial television local content obligations are in place.

The research consolidates findings from three complementary reports undertaken over the past 12 months (as well as building on ACMA research from 2013):

  • Regional Australians’ access to local content—Community research (Community research report)
  • Regional Australian television news—Audiences across regional evening news services, 2003–16 (Regional TAM report)
  • Availability of local content in regional Australia—Case studies (Case study report).

The findings will be presented as part of the ACMA’s Australian content conversation, on 16 and 17 May at the International Conference Centre, Sydney. More information and registration details are available here.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or

Media release 20/2017 - 15 May


What is local content?

Local content is content that relates to a specific geographical area in regional Australia.

The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA) and related legislative instruments set out statutory obligations for both regional commercial TV broadcasters and regional commercial radio broadcasters to provide minimum levels of ‘local content’ within applicable licence areas and/or ‘local areas’.

Local content includes material that is produced in, is hosted in or relates to a local area, as well as material that is associated with or affects people, organisations, events or issues in a local area.
Some examples of local content include local news, local sport, local weather and material related to local business activities and local community events.

Local areas are geographic areas that reflect local communities and/or local markets. They generally fall within commercial broadcasting licence areas (markets); however, in the case of smaller markets, they may overlap with another licence area.

Scope of the research

Community research report

A telephone survey of n=2,457 adult regional Australians to assess perceived importance of local content and local news, as well as awareness and frequency of use, and preferred sources for accessing local content and local news.

Commercial media is the predominant source of local content in regional Australia available on traditional and online sources.

One of the key findings was the way age influences how regional Australians access local news, as shown in the figures below:

How does age influence what regional Australians use to access local news?

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The research into trust and reliability for local news shows:

Trust in local news

  • Most trusted: Commercial TV (21 per cent)
  • ABC: ABC TV (10 per cent), local ABC radio (15 per cent)
  • Online: Social media (four per cent), websites (nine per cent).

Reliability for late-breaking local news

  • Most reliable: Commercial TV (24 per cent)
  • ABC: ABC TV (eight per cent), local ABC radio (14 per cent)
  • Online: Social media (12 per cent), websites (14 per cent).

Regional TAM report

An analysis of Regional TAM television ratings data for the period 2003 to 30 June 2016 using average audience figures and target audience rating points. Ratings data was not included after 30 June 2016, as it was considered that such data may be skewed by network affiliation changes that occurred from 1 July 2016.

Case study report

Case studies of 11 regional localities were undertaken to examine the availability of local content and local news across both traditional media and online sources, including the quantity of local news produced and the frequency local content sources are updated. Each locality was selected based on a range of characteristics, including geographic area, population size, applicable television licence area(s) and the number of commercial television services provided in the locality. Social media and open narrowcasting services were also included in the case studies.

Research parameters

The 2017 report is intended to provide a broad, brief and current overview of the availability and consumption of local content and local news. For that reason, the reports do not include the following analyses undertaken in 2013:

  • economic analysis on the commercial incentives and operating costs of providing commercial free-to-air TV in regional areas
  • data on regional broadcasters’ compliance with local content licence conditions.

Last updated: 12 May 2017