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Brussels, 2 April 2009

Commission consults publishing SMEs on innovation barriers and new business models

The Commission has launched its first ever consultation devoted to Small and Medium Enterprises in the publishing sector: books, newspapers, and magazines. Publishing now provides nearly 700 000 jobs, in around 80 000 companies across today’s 27 Member States, most of them SMEs. The consultation will map out how publishing SMEs are responding to the evolving business environment and the changes brought about by new technologies. The results will help to better understand the difficulties publishing SMEs face and identify ways action at national and EU level can strengthen the sector during difficult economic times.

"The overwhelming majority of European publishing companies are SMEs, or even micro companies" said Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media, "And our SME pool is the brewing vat for innovation and growth in this key sector. That's why I want to find out how publishing SMEs are doing, what obstacles they face in these difficult times and whether there is scope to share best practices on responses to technological innovation and the current economic speed bump."

Small and medium companies (defined as employing less than 250 people and an annual turnover below € 50 million) working in publishing are not only important economically, but also make a major contribution towards media pluralism. They fuel the diversity of published works across the EU and enhance press freedom and access to culture. Through the press, other print media like magazines and books, European publishing SMEs make an essential contribution to cultural and democratic diversity across Europe. The Commission has launched a public consultation on the sector's operations, financial position and innovativeness to see what steps the EU and Member States can take to help publishing companies benefit from a single borderless market. Topics covered by the questionnaire include access to finance, innovation, market access and regulation, skills and quality of the labour force, delivery platforms and other mechanisms for co-operation, and language-related issues.

The consultation launched today comes at a time when print media are in the grip of recession because of falling advertising revenues and are undergoing far-reaching structural changes as the new technologies transform the media landscape.

This is a downturn like no other for press. According to early estimates, in 2008 advertising revenues have gone down by 3.7% in France, 16.12% in Spain and 12% in the UK. The trend expected for 2009 is even worse.

The consultation will run in all EU languages until early June. The results of the consultation will be available in mid 2009.


The consultation launched today is a part of the European Commission's initiative to strengthen Europe's SMEs, taken with the Small Business Act (IP/08/1003) and it is managed under the responsibility of the Task Force for Co-ordination of Media Affairs. The missions of the Media Task Force are to support growth and jobs in the media industry (the key objectives of the 'revised Lisbon strategy') and to promote media diversity, pluralism and press freedom. The initiative for European publishing SMEs is one of the main on-going works of the Media Task Force and is of particular importance to support media pluralism in the Member States.

The public consultation is available at:

The European Commission's Media Task force page:

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