Latest update: 6 July (Norway)
In crises, the need for journalism and reliable information grows. But at the same time, the Covid-19 crisis is a hard blow to the media, which is losing huge advertising revenue. To keep journalism alive, and in addition to general company support, Nordic politicians have launched targeted measures for the media industry.
First out with crisis packages to the media were Denmark and Sweden, on 1 and 3 April, respectively. In Finland, a proposal for extra money to journalism was presented on 28 April, and in Norway, the government launched a new compensation scheme on 6 May.
Below we list support measures mainly aimed at news media and journalism, arranged by country and chronological order.
Earlier payments. On 31 March, the government announced that already granted production support for printed media should be paid out earlier than planned, and requirements for self-produced content for non-commercial local radio and television stations were reduced.
A media aid package, in order to compensate the media for lost advertising revenue, was presented on 1 April. The compensation scheme, estimated to comprise DKK 180 million, is aimed at printed and digital news media, periodicals and magazines, and commercial radio. The media is compensated with 60 per cent of lost revenue if the ads dropped by 30–50 per cent, and by 80 per cent if they lost 50–100 per cent in advertising revenue. Initially, the compensation was for advertising losses during the period 9 March to 8 June 2020, but in mid-May, the period was extended by one month to 8 July.
The compensation scheme was approved by the European Commission on 27 May, and on 29 May, the Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces (administrator of the support) opened up for applications.
Support to journalism. On 28 April, a Finnish investigation, commissioned by the Ministry of Communications on 16 April, proposed swift support for media hit by the Corona pandemic. The Covid-19 support for media companies facing financial difficulties due to the pandemic should aim to strengthen journalism through support money to pay wages or purchase freelance work. For distributing the support, an independent support committee with experts in journalism would be appointed. Except for the discretionary support for the media in the Covid-19 crisis, the exploration of a more permanent support system for journalism in Finland was also suggested.
In the supplementary budget presented on 2 June, the Government proposes to allocate EUR 5 million for the support of journalism in 2020.
Read more in English and Finnish:
Accelerated support payments. The Norwegian Media Authority is accelerating the payment of media support to news media, Sami newspapers and local radio and television stations, as announced in late March. The state budget for 2020 already contained a supplement of NOK 40 million, of which NOK 30 million was earmarked for the smallest local media, a pot from which payments are now being accelerated.
A temporary compensation scheme was presented by the government on 6 May. The support means that editor-controlled media can be compensated with 60 per cent of the revenue they lost during the period 1 March to 15 June, with a maximum amount of NOK 15 million. The support can be applied for by national media with a revenue drop of at least 20 per cent during the period, and by local and regional media with a drop of at least 15 per cent of revenue. In total, the ceiling of the support scheme is proposed to be NOK 300 million. The Ministry of Culture is working on drafting regulations for the support.
According to a revised proposal on June 26, the same percentage, a revenue drop of 15 per cent, should now apply to all editor-controlled media, independent of national, regional or local coverage. The period is extended to 30 June. The support was approved by ESA on July 6.
An overview of support measures in media and the cultural field is available on the Ministry of Culture's website, in Norwegian:
Sviktende inntekter i kulturlivet, idretten og frivillig sektor på grunn av koronavirus. Hvilke tiltak finnes og hvor kan du henvende deg? [Failure in revenues in the cultural, sports and voluntary sectors due to coronavirus: What measures are there and where can you go?]
A permanent increase. On 3 April, the government proposed a permanent increase of media support by SEK 200 million per year. 150 million of the money for 2020 will be a temporary distribution support for printed newspapers, while the remaining SEK 50 million will double the support for coverage of "white spots", or areas that lack or have weak journalistic coverage. In addition, newspapers that have been granted press support can receive the money earlier than planned. The government also temporarily removed the requirement for 55 per cent self-produced editorial material, which is otherwise required to receive support. The temporary scheme was approved by the European Commission on 26 June.
Abolished recycling payments. The newspaper industry will no longer have to pay for the collection of recycled paper. The newspaper and magazine industry, which today have a producer responsibility for the waste paper collection, will no longer have to bear these costs, the government announced on 23 April.
Another SEK 500 million will be paid out as extra support to general news media in 2020 as a result of the corona crisis, the government announced on 8 May.
Updates added to the overview:
2 June: Denmark (EU approval)
4 June: Finland (supplementary budget)
26 June: Sweden (EU approval)
26 June: Norway (revised proposal)
6 July: Norway (ESA approval)
Learn more about permanent media subsidies in the Nordic countries
Nordicom has mapped the situation for media VAT (article plus tables) and direct media support (tables) in the Nordic countries, see below: