Just on November 15, the Swedish Parliament passed the new Media Subsidy Act, which means that the current press subsidy system will disappear at the end of the year. The changes are believed to hit smaller newspapers and those critical of the regime particularly hard, and Ulrika Hyllert, president of the Swedish Journalists’ Union, is very critical of the design of the new support.
– This means that the impact of media support on media diversity in Sweden will now depend on the goodwill of the Media Support Board, she says.
The Swedish Journalists’ Union believes that it is unclear how the media support will actually be distributed and is concerned that there is no guarantee that “media that contribute to media diversity will be prioritized” when the money is distributed.
– For us, media diversity is not primarily about the color of the editorial page. For us as a union it is important that there are many different, viable media owners in Sweden. It’s a question of the future and something that politicians should take more seriously, says Ulrika Hyllert, adding that newsrooms will also have to cut their freelance budgets.
Vavra Suk, editor-in-chief and publisher of Nya Tider, is also very critical of the whole process and does not know whether the newspaper will receive the new media subsidy, as there are no detailed regulations yet and decisions will not be made until April 2024 at the earliest.
“Transitional support”, which would help newspapers eligible for press subsidies to better manage the transition to the new system, will also not be paid until April – during these six months they will be completely without state support.
“However, alternative media like Nya Tider will be hit the hardest, and it seems that we are also being targeted. We already work in a hostile environment where, for example, the cartelization of the Swedish printing industry limits our possibilities. We are also unable to generate significant income from advertising, as politically correct newspapers do”, Suk writes.
Left-wing newspapers collapse
The Socialist Justice Party is also very negative about the changes and believes that the bourgeois and SD-backed government is actively trying to strangle left-wing newspapers financially.
“Offensiv and other left-wing newspapers could be completely without state support next year. And if Offensiv continues to receive support, it will be significantly less than before, and within a few years it will be zero crowns. Moreover, if the paper does receive funding in 2024, it will not be paid out until April, forcing the paper to make cuts at the beginning of the year. This is a deliberate attempt to cut off the legs of Offensiv and other newspapers that are not published by profit-making media groups”, the paper writes.
The left-wing newspaper ETC has also warned that it will lose a lot of money with the new policy.
“A new media subsidy will be introduced at the turn of the year, but nobody knows what it means yet. But one thing is clear: there will be less money for Dagens ETC. In 2023, Dagens ETC will have 20 million in press subsidies. In 2024 it could be wiped out”, they warn.
But minister of culture Parisa Liljestrand says that “the basic idea has always been a technology-neutral system that targets the media that really need support”.
– This is to promote a more long-term sustainability, even for small players. From a democratic perspective, it is important to protect local journalism throughout the country, she claims.