The FINANCIAL -- Financial conditions of Georgian media are worsening that can badly impact freedom of speech in Georgia, IAGJ, a member of European Federation of Journalists said. Independent media is affected by COVID restrictions imposed on businesses, while government associated media remain subsidized. There is no specific assistance provided to the media till now. While European journalists. Here is the data provided by The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) about the financial support media outlets and journalists received in Europe.
“We need emergency recovery packages to protect the jobs of journalists and media workers, to support companies and to fund public service media through this crisis. Governments must consider the media sector as a vital one. The media sector needs governments to provide vital support by taking extraordinary measures - direct and indirect aid - otherwise it will not be able to recover on its own and we will face massive lay-offs. We must not leave media outlets in the sole hands of the market. Media pluralism is at stake, ” European Federation of Journalists told The FINANCIAL.
The health crisis showed that there is a vital need for trustworthy and reliable information. In fact, media outlets and journalists faced a double challenge.
On one hand, all media taken together experienced a sharp increase in consumption. Reporters and media workers were in the front line – they were our ears and eyes when most citizens were required to stay at home.
On the other hand, European media have faced huge fall in revenues which has aggravated an already downward trend, in particular for newspapers, periodicals and radio broadcasting. It meant falling wages for journalists, in particular freelancers. The reality on the field also revealed difficult access to information, physical attacks and even detention for many journalists. In total, Mapping Media Freedom registered 37 alerts related to the pandemic, in 13 European countries.
From March to June 2020, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) repeatedly called on national governments and EU institutions to support journalists in an independent way with emergency reliefs and recovery plans, as democracy as a whole was at stake.
With the help of its affiliates in 44 European countries, the EFJ has mapped the different emergency packages, direct financial support and long-term measures, if any, in the database below.
"Package of 32 million euros. Almost half went to private commercial broadcasters. Daily newspapers received a total of 12.1 million euros and weekly newspapers 2.7 million euros, according to the circulation number."
"GPA-djp negotiated a 'Corona short-time work' package until March 2021, in which all employees receive 80-90% compensation of their net wages."
"In French-speaking Belgium, a package of 3 million euros for media outlets in financial difficulty and another 3 million euros for public health advertising space through media outlets. In Flanders, 3.8 million euros were allocated to public broadcaster VRT, and another 3.8 million euros to regional broadcasters.
All employed journalists were eligible to short time work compensation (70% of the wages).
"In French-speaking Belgium, 550.000 € for independent journalists via a fund (Le Fonds pour le journalisme) to support the production of journalistic pieces. Exemption or postponement of the payment of social security contributions. Reduction in provisional social security contributions for the year 2020. In Flanders, 57% of journalists in their main occupation were eligible for federal or regional government support, which amounted to a compensation of 3000€.
|"Package of 700.000 euros. More than 50% was given to TV stations and the rest to online media, newspapers and radio stations."
All employed journalists were eligible to short time work compensation (60% of the wages) under the condition that there is no redundancy on grounds of economic reasons during the period for which the compensation is received.
"Freelancers were included in the plan for self-employed until mid-June (60% of their wages, up to 900€ per month)."
"24 million euros for private media which have lost between 30% and 50% of the revenues from ads (compensation by the state of 60% to 80%). In addition, private media are encouraged not to dismiss their staff. If they don’t, the state will pay 75% of the salary, the employers will pay 25% and the workers will pay the rest by giving up 1 week holiday."
Freelancers and self-employed journalists who could justify a loss of more than 30% of their income received 75% compensation from the State (maximum 3000€/month) between 8 March and 29 August.
The Danish government will stop financial cuts of 122 million euros in support of public service media over the next four years. It will also increase support for the media sector by providing an additional annual budget of 20 millions euros.
"Reduced VAT rate for electronic publications (down from 20% to 9%), with annual savings estimated at 400,000 EUR for the industry in 2020. The government supported with 450,000 EUR newspaper home delivery for a period of 3 months."
"A package of 5 million euros for emergency relief of newspapers, 2,5 million euros for the Finnish News Agency, as well as 5 million euros for the Finnish Film Foundation for domestic productions support."
Freelancers and entrepreneurs were eligible for unemployment compensation up to 724€/month. Freelancers could get an assistance of 2 000€ from the state for their business costs. The finish union granted financial assistance through its own foundation (40 special Coronavirus grants of 5 800€ each - 232.000€ in total) to help freelancers and their media projects.
"106 millions euros to guarantee the continuity of press distribution and support the players most affected (newsagents, overseas titles, publishers). Advance payment of press aid."
All workers were eligible to short time work compensation (84% of the net income).
"377 million euros over the next two years to support the digital and ecological transitions in the media sector. It includes a fund of 18 million euros to support the most precarious journalists (such as freelancers, photojournalists, cartoonists...)."
Georgia: NO ASSISTANCE
Germany: "Media outlets were eligible to the 25 billion euros aid programme.Short-time work benefits were increased to 70% of net income for childless employees and 77% for employees with children.
"At the national level, freelancers could receive from 9 000 to 15 000€ per journalists for three months (for their running costs). Self-employed could also benefit from a child allowance of 300€ or subsidies for electromobility.
Freelance journalists were granted a 800€ unemployment benefit.
"ISK 400 million in support of private media, maximum 100 million per media outlet."
"Employees could get a temporary wage subsidy of 70% of take-home pay, up to a maximum tax free amount of 410€/week to help affected companies keep paying their employees. Workers who have lost their jobs due to the crisis received an enhanced emergency Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of 350€/week (an increase from 203€); The Covid-19 illness payment was also increased to 350€/week."
Self-Employed were eligible for the Unemployment Payment of 350€/week until mid-June.
Advertisers could deduct from 30% of all investment for advertisement in newspapers and online media from their taxes.
Freelancers with an annual income of up to 50.000€ could get a bonus of 600€.
"A package of 41 million euros. It includes a Fiscal Emergency Package, lease subsidy, a financial support from 130€ to companies employing with contracts of at least 1 year during the period of health emergency, for the two months following the hiring.
The government compensated salary expenses of employees (170€ for April and May) for companies in financial difficulties due to a fall in revenues.
599 492 euros to support the print and commercial internet news portals; 223 737 euros (per month) to support the monthly delivery costs of subscribed press publications; 217 699 euros (per month) to support the monthly broadcasting costs of electronic media programs. € 1 000 000 allocated to the National Electronic Media Council (NEPLP).
"Luxembourg media could apply for an extraordinary subsidy of maximum 200,000 euros per outlet. It takes the form of a subsidy of 5.000€ per full-time journalist (max. 40 per media outlet) under the condition that supported full-time position must not already have been supported as part of the short-time work."
"The government supported the media up to 310,000 EUR. An additional 300,000 EUR was granted corresponding to the value of the obligations of which the media have been released or whose payment has been deferred. Furthermore, journalists could receive free protection equipment against the COVID-19. "
Subsidies for salaries were also provided to employees in the media.
"A credit line has been granted with the Investment and Development Fund for credit funds of up to EUR 600,000."
"A package of 27 million euros. The scheme was used by national media who have a total turnover decline of at least 20% in the period March 1-15 June. For local and regional media, the fall in turnover must be at least 15%. The media that met these criteria was compensated up to 60% of the decrease in revenue (max. 1,3 million EUR). The compensation was adjusted in case of layoffs / support from other COVID-19 measures."
Freelance workers qualified for state-financed sick pay after the 4th day (instead of the 16th day) equivalent to 80% of the average earnings over the past three years (up to 50 000€).
A package of 15 million euros for institutional advertising (75% to national agencies and 25% to regional and local agencies).
All journalists received between 50 and 80% of their wages.
"Freelance journalists with no income received 430€/month. Independent workers who needed to stay at home with children because of the schools closing, received one third of their average income, taking as a reference the last trimester of 2019."
"All workers received 258€ (net) from April to August with possibility to postpone taxes and social contribution to 2021. For September and October, all workers received 155€."
"Freelancers received 350€ for March, 700€ for April and May each, under the condition that journalists declare lower incomes, taking early 2020 and 2019 as reference months. "
15 million euros was granted to TV channels. Preferential VAT rate for digital content set at 4% (from 21%) as for newspapers.
The government covered 70% of unemployment aids without condition. Tax reduction for freelancers.
A package of more than 47 million euros to help the media temporarily for 2020 to strengthen financially editorial activities and compensate (partly) for lost advertising revenue during the pandemic. 15 millions euros to be distributed among 200 printed newspapers. The entire cost of all sick pay was covered by the government between 11 March and 31 May.
"SJF signed a central collective agreement on short-term work, valid until the end of the year. It provides for a reduction in workers’ working time while retaining at least 92% of the salary, with the support of the State. It covers the daily press and magazine areas, commercial broadcasters (excludes public service media)."
A lowering of the tax (about 1800€) for freelancers able to work full-time (a minority). Some freelancers could apply for furlough to compensate their loss of incomes. SJF will fund 250 scholarships amounting of 1000€ for freelancers in need.
A permanent annual increase of SEK 200 million (around 18 million euros) for the media sector. Most of it (150 mil) will be used to cover distribution costs and the rest (50 mil) is a special subsidy for media to expand their media coverage.
The press agency Keystone-SDA was made available free of charge to the media for six months. Newspapers and magazines were also distributed free of charge by mail. Support of 30 million CHF for private local radio and television stations through the fluctuation reserve for the radio and television licence fee. The condition is that publishers do not pay dividends in 2020.
Employers can apply for short-time work compensation for employed journalists (including freelancers who work on a regular basis for the same employer). It covers 80% of the salary of the employee.
"Self-employed journalists received 80% of their average salary with a maximum of 185€ (CHF 196.00)/day. It covers the net income only. An additional emergency fund of 50 million has been financed by the federal government for the cultural sector and is distributed by “Suisseculture Sociale”, an independent foundation. Journalists can apply for emergency aid to cover their living expenses."
"11 million euros to regional broadcasters (7,5 million) and investigative journalism (3,5 million) - taken from existing subsidy scheme. Payment of taxes is postponed until 1 October 2020. Government makes available 11 million euros for regional, local media and journalists who have their own media. Additional support of 24 million for local media."
All journalists eligible to short-time work compensation (up to 90% of the wages) during 3 months under the condition that there is no redundancy on grounds of economic reasons. The NVJ social fund provides journalists with support to solve temporary financial issues. Funds for journalists is now more easily accessible thanks to flexible criteria.
"Self-employed and freelancers with an income decrease could receive additional income support for a period of 3 months up to the social minimum level of 1,219€, from 1 March, without checking other sources of income. Loan for working capital was available for emergency credit of a maximum of 10,157€. Easy application process for deferral of tax. Since 1 July, however freelance journalists with a partner with a steady income were most of the time not eligible. In August, 160,000€ was made available for media projects."
Employers can apply for short-time work compensation (60% of the salary of the employee).
"Since 11 May, entreprises operating in the field of mass media (press retail outlets, logistics, audiovisual) are allowed to work again. Emergency package of 30 million UAH (around 899 000€) for media outlets."
"The Ukrainian parliament has passed a law to support culture, creative industries and tourism which includes the media sector. This law provides for tax benefits, partial exemption for rent and utilities."
"Journalists, earning at least 118 GBP/week, who cannot work due to coronavirus were able to get Statutory Sick Pay from day 1 (instead of day 4). Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme : media can get support to continue paying salaries up to 80% of their wage up to a cap of £2,500/month."
"The scheme also applied to freelancers (80% of their average monthly profits). The maximum per month is £2,500. The scheme is open to anyone with an income up to £50,000 (and a tax return for 2019). Newly self-employed, those earning more than £50,000 or those who don’t earn over 50% from their self-employment income are not eligible. Since July, self-employed parents who didn't submit a tax return for 2018-19 because they were pregnant or taking time out can claim the Self-employement Income Scheme Support (SEISS). This scheme is available from 17 August to 19 October."