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Brussels, 8th April 2009

State aid: Commission launches new consultation on revised rules for state funding of public service broadcasting

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on a revised draft for a new Communication laying down the rules that it intends to apply to state funding of public service broadcasting. Member States and stakeholders have the opportunity to submit their views on the proposed text by 8 May 2009 at the latest. On the basis of the comments received, the Commission intends to adopt a modernised Broadcasting Communication later this year. Main changes compared to the previous draft concern clarifications on the principles of technology neutrality and editorial independence, an increased focus on the key principles with enhanced flexibility for implementation at Member State level and more clarity on holding public service reserves. A first consultation on the general principles of the review took place between January and March 2008 (see IP/08/24) and a consultation on a first draft Communication between November 2008 and January 2009 (see IP/08/1626).

The Commission's goal is that the new Communication will help stakeholders to meet the challenges of the new media environment, allowing high quality and modern public service broadcasting, while at the same time maintaining fair competition between different service providers. This second draft Communication takes account of comments received during the first consultation. It would leave Member States more flexibility for fitting their specific broadcasting system into the common framework, whilst continuing to ensure a level playing field.

Both the first and the second draft Communication build on the fundamental principles applicable to the financing of public service broadcasting as laid down by EU law and in particular by the Amsterdam Protocol, including the recognition of Member States' wide discretion to define the mission of public service broadcasters and the Commission's task to preserve fair competition.

The new public consultation will also provide Member States and stakeholders with an opportunity to provide their comments taking into account the implications of the current economic crisis on the media environment

The second draft for a modernised Broadcasting Communication and an explanatory note are available at:

Submissions received during this third public consultation will again be published on this page.


Public broadcasters receive more than €22 billion annually from license fees or direct government aid, placing them in third place, after agriculture and transport companies, among recipients of state aid.

To clarify its interpretation of EC Treaty state aid rules in the sector, the Commission adopted a Communication on the application of state aid rules to public service broadcasting in 2001 (see IP/01/1429).Since then, the Commission has taken over 20 decisions based on the Communication, in which it has further clarified the application of the state aid rules to the broadcasting sector. An overview of these decisions is available at:

The most recent state aid decisions on public broadcasting in Germany (see IP/07/543 and MEMO/07/150), Ireland (see IP/08/317) and Belgium (see IP/08/316) reflect the Commission's approach in particular as regards the definition of the public service remit in the new media environment.

The review process

A first public consultation (see IP/08/24) on the general principles of a possible review took place between January and March 2008, in line with the State Aid Action Plan of 2005 (see IP/05/680). On the basis of the results from the consultation, Commissioner Kroes announced in July 2008 her intention to modernise the current Communication, which was adopted in 2001.

The Commission subsequently held a second public consultation (see IP/08/1626 and MEMO/08/671) between November 2008 and January 2009 on a first draft for the new Broadcasting Communication. The Commission received more than 90 replies to this second consultation. These are available at:

The Commission also discussed the draft with Member States on 5 December 2008.

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