Government in press subsidy reversal

The Swedish government will not implement a controversial proposal which would drastically cut press subsidies to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) and Skånska Dagbladet newspapers.

Instead, the matter will be addressed by the European Commission, based on the level of press support approved by the Riksdag in 2006, writes Sweden’s Minister of Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth in SvD’s opinion pages.

In the meantime, the government has put forward a new proposal that would still cut supports to the two newspapers, but by much smaller amounts.

“A special support is needed for newspapers with weaker market share so that readers can have real freedom of choice,” writes Adelsohn Liljeroth.

In the spring, the government proposed that subsidies to SvD and Skånska Dagbladet would be reduced incrementally from the current level of 65.4 million kronor ($10.2 million) to 17 million kronor. The reduction was set to start next year and be phased in over a five-year period.

The government’s new proposal entails a much smaller cut big-city newspaper supports, as well as a 10 percent increase in overall press subsidies.

The new press support levels are to take effect in 2009.

In practice, subsidies to a medium-sized rural newspaper would go up from 15.3 million kronor to 16.9 million.

Meanwhile, SvD and Skånska Dagbladet would see their subsidies drop by 4.5 million kronor to 60.9 million kronor.