ESA approves production grant scheme for private media outlets in Iceland*
The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) has today approved a grant scheme for private media outlets in Iceland. The scheme aims to improve operating conditions and strengthen the media’s role in providing factual information to the public.
The Icelandic media sector is small but diverse, covering a range of issues and sectors. However, the media industry has faced difficult operating conditions resulting from changes in technology, consumer behaviour, market conditions and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.
On 9 July 2020, ESA approved a temporary media support scheme to support private media outlets suffering financial difficulties as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary scheme was approved until 1 September 2020.
The Icelandic authorities consider that most private media outlets will continue to struggle financially for some time. The main objective of the scheme is therefore to provide support to private media outlets, allowing them to continue to produce news and features on current affairs and social issues.
The scheme will last until 31 December 2022, and will offer direct grants to private media outlets in Iceland to support their continued operation. This will enable media outlets to continue their activities and maintain current employment levels. The scheme has a total budget of ISK 724 million (EUR 4.8m).
The EEA Agreement recognises the importance of plurality in the media market and ensuring that EEA citizens have access to diverse media sources. Private media are an integral part of media diversity, and state aid is justified.