Brussels, 20 November 2013
State aid: Commission approves Danish support scheme for written media
The European Commission has found a Danish support scheme for the production of, and innovation in, written media to be in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission concluded that, in line with EU objectives, the scheme will support media pluralism and the dissemination of high quality socio-political news to citizens in Denmark, without unduly distorting competition in the internal market.
Commissioner Joaquin Almunia says "Media pluralism and high quality news contents are essential to a democratic society. The Danish scheme is an excellent example of how these fundamental values can be safeguarded in a way that fully takes into account the increasing importance of digital access to information".
The Danish press support scheme runs from 2014 to 2019, with a revision after three years, and has an annual budget of DKK 363.6 million (approximately €52 million). Aid will be granted to support the creation of content, while the choice of the distribution channel is left to the media. Aid must not amount to more than 35% of a medium's editorial costs. In addition, the annual maximum amount of aid per medium is DKK 17.5 million.
Citizens' media consumption behaviour has significantly changed over the last two decades. The internet is increasingly used as a source of free news information, while the traditional income base for printed newspapers, advertisements, is decreasing. The Danish scheme takes account of this trend by supporting the production of content, regardless of whether the media is printed or internet-based.
The Commission considers that the measure pursues an objective of common EU interest, namely the freedom and pluralism of the media. The Commission has also found that since the scope of the measure is limited, with an annual budget of around €52 million, and the aid amounts involved are relatively low, the aid is limited to the minimum necessary to achieve this objective. Moreover, there are safeguards to minimise distortions of competition, in particular to level out the playing field between different technological platforms and channel aid to certain categories of media (such as smaller nation-wide printed newspapers and free-standing internet-based media not available in print) which are of particular importance for maintaining media pluralism and the democratic debate. An innovation pool is also set up for aid to the start-up of new, independent news media and the development of existing media. A transition scheme is foreseen to support a number of news media particularly affected by the shift from distribution aid to production aid.
The Commission therefore concluded that the measure was in line with Article 107(3)(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which allows aid to facilitate the development of certain economic activities, provided it does not unduly affect trading conditions.
The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.36366 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News