Helsinki, 9 February 2023
The Ministry of Transport and Communications has called for comments on a draft Government Decree on discretionary government grants for communications and news media in 2023. The decree is scheduled to take effect in April. Total funding of EUR 7 million is proposed.
The proposed Government Decree seeks to issue non-recurrent, discretionary government grants to subsidise communications and news media. The grants would be awarded through the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom). The first supplementary budget proposal of 2023 includes a total reservation of EUR 7 million for such grants.
“Responsible, diverse and independent media is the cornerstone of a democratic society. For years the media sector has been adapting to technological change and competition with international giants. I am pleased that a new media subsidy can help media operators adapt to new operating conditions,” says Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka.
The aim of the discretionary government grants would be to support comprehensive and socially important communications, and versatile and diverse news operations. The grants would focus on editorial work, and could be awarded to media that carry local, regional or national news topics. Support for comprehensive communications will seek to prevent the emergence of news wastelands.
Grants could be awarded to news media operating in Finland or the Åland Islands that have an editor-in-chief and produce their own editorial material. The media should cover a wide range of topics and serve a diverse audience. There would be no media-specific limitations on eligibility for a grant, which could accordingly be awarded to print media, television and radio operators, and to online publications.
No broad general support programmes for media or journalistic content are currently provided in Finland. The discretionary government grants now proposed would apply across a broad spectrum of media sector operators and media. The grant format under preparation would be based on the media subsidies that were disbursed during the COVID-19 crisis.
Need for support reflects media industry upheaval
The plenary session of Parliament on 24 January approved a Government proposal amending the Postal Act and discretionary government grants for newspaper distribution. The proposal changes the five-day collection and delivery of general postal services to a three-day collection and delivery system. Temporary discretionary government grants for newspaper distribution will be introduced at this time with a view to ensuring five-day distribution of newspapers in sparsely populated areas. When approving the proposal, Parliament imposed a condition concerning media support that seeks to secure the status of local newspapers as significant media.
The need for support reflects a sustained upheaval in the media sector. Shifting the traditional media revenue model based on sales and subscriptions into the digital environment has been problematic. Multinational technology businesses are also challenging traditional media sector operators for advertising revenue streams and competing for the same readership. The evolving operating environment has resulted in business restructuring and new investment needs in the sector.
Source – Finnish Government