Funding Europe’s media: can Foundations piggy-back Europe’s piggy-bank?
Europe’s media sector does not need cash per se. It needs to adapt not only to ever-changing technologies, but also to a moving political environment and new reader habits. In this context, a smart alliance of private and public funders is necessary to act nimbly.
With this in mind, the European Journalism Centre and Fondation EURACTIV brought together on October 23rd, some 40 representatives of philanthropic foundations, EU institutions and the media sector.
This note summarises the key points that emerged in this discussion.
Regulatory and legal environment
- The regulatory and legal environment needs to evolve to allow new forms of journalism to emerge, for example: classifying journalism as a charitable activity in some cases; or, also, allowing non-profit newsrooms to benefit from donations more easily.
- We need a “single market for philanthropy”. However, while it’s easy to move goods and services across markets, this is not possible for donations. For this reason:
- philanthropy should be recognized in the EU Treaties;
- we should lower barriers for cross-border philanthropies;
- protect philanthropic funding;
- encourage co-granting and co-investing between public institutions and private philanthropic organisations.
- The 61 million planned in the 2021-2027 should be increased (‘Indicative allocation’ suggested by the Commission in its proposal for the relevant ‘structural changes in the media sector’ part of the larger ‘Creative Europe’ programme). This allocation will be organised around 3 priorities:
- promoting cross-cutting activities covering several sectors;
- enhancing a free, diverse, and pluralistic media environment;
- fostering quality journalism and media literacy.
New ways of encouraging innovation
- Could we imagine a clearing house to pool funding for the media (for instance for fact-checking), that provides a firewall between those giving and those receiving money? This should be studied.
- DG ECOFIN has recently started cooperating actively with the foundation sector to design and implement financial instruments for the media sector. It has thus created a “creative sector facility”. Moreover, the InvestEU proposal in the MFF pools together different guarantee mechanisms.
- The innovation needed is currently unfolding in 4 directions:
- new revenue models;
- engaging and inviting readers into newsrooms;
- modern formats (video, social media…);
- culture from “being first” to “being right”, working with rivals, fostering diversity and inclusion.
Strategies against misinformation
- The 3 key strategies centre around:
- avoiding censorship;
- debunking misinformation;
- diluting misinformation by promoting quality information.
- That requires a strong media sector, over and beyond much-needed fact-checking or media literacy efforts, that is to say:
- a level playing field with platforms;
- open borders and cross-border media groups;
- greater EU funding;
- faster assimilation of new skills in newsrooms and among media management;
- and a more informed debate.