Danish press subsidies change threatens Metro
In Denmark heated discussion started about the subsidies that newspapers receive – mostly for distributing the papers. Some years ago also free dailies (notably Metro and its second Danish free daily 24Timer) started successfully to apply for subsidies.
In 2010 Metro had a EBIT result of €749,000 – but because the company received €5 million in government distribution subsidies, this could turn into a loss without subsidies. Actually, the total results of Metro International could be seriously affected by a change of policy.
Also in 2011 MetroXpress and 24timer – both majority owned by Metro International – received DKK 19 million (€ 2.5 million) state support. The yearly national Danish newspaper support (€45 million) is mainly aimed at subsidizing distribution. Also newspapers like Børsen, BT, Berlingske Tidende, Jyllands Posten, Information and Politiken receive distribution subsidies.
A Danish commission recommended that the rules for media subsidies should be changed (link to Danish report). Original content produced and the number of journalists newspapers employ would be the new standard. Free newspapers would probably not quality under the proposed rules.
It’s widely expected in Denmark that the government will follow at least some recommendations of the commission (source for much of the information on the new rules: Aske Kammer’s Blog).
Supporting original content seems fair, but stimulating (young) readers to read is also valuable. Punishing free dailies for doing that seems not that fair.