Prime minister Xavier Bettel speaks at a tax conference on 29 February 2016
Photo: Sven Becker
The question of press subsidies is central in the upcoming parliamentary debate on the “evolution of the media and the quality of the press” on 14 March.
Prime minister and minister of communications and media Xavier Bettel has published a note which lays out the main points of discussion, such as a thorough adjustment to public subsidies for the press in an era of digitalisation.
The Luxembourg government has traditionally provided substantial subsidies to the press to ensure quality and, more importantly, a plurality of outlets, due to the small size of the country’s media market.
For traditional establishments, such as daily and weekly newspapers, the budget is significant: in 2016, Tageblatt received €1.7 million, Luxemburger Wort received €1.5 million, and the Quotidien €1.3 million. The group Saint-Paul got a total of €1.860 million, and Editpress €3.670 million. Maison Moderne, the group which owns Delano, has never received any public subsidies up till now.
The issue of a thorough reform of press subsidies has been on the cards for years, but because it is such a complicated issue, with a lot of entrenched and conflicting interests of major players, only a small reform was passed to provide subsidies for online news providers. The total budget for these online press subsidies was set at €450,000.
Bettel hoped that a consultation debate would help:
“elaborate a vision on the role of public institutions in a changing audio-visual environment and lead to an action plan.”
The minister of communications said in his note, sent to parliament on 7 March, that “the move from paper towards online” is accelerating, and that while it was positive for democracy and participation, it also “harbors risks which should not be underestimated.” Online press was subjected to intense competition by individual information providers which were not bound by a code of ethics and the required fact checking, Bettel states in his note.