Answer given by Mrs Reding on behalf of the Commission
Redundancies among journalists are a long term trend. Publishers in Europe and North America have been reducing the number of journalists for many years, in order to cut costs in face of increasing competition from other media and to preserve profit margins. Newspapers try to do more with less. New media have accelerated the trend by successfully attracting certain types of advertising previously reserved for the press, such as recruitment and classified advertisements. However, the impact of new media does vary from Member State to Member State, for instance according to the penetration of broadband Internet. The Honourable Member is correct in stating that the recession has made these trends more acute, notably by further reducing advertising revenues.
In the Commission's view, the structure of the printed press is undergoing far-reaching changes as a result of technological change. It is impossible to assess at this stage what the outcome will be in terms of new business models. The Commission is not best placed to define a new enterprise model for funding quality journalism, but agrees with the Honourable Member that having several different sources of revenue is always desirable in order to safeguard independence, rather than depending on one source.
Given the differing speed of change across the Member States, any support measures deemed necessary should rather be taken at national level by Member States. Many Member States already notify state aid in support of the press to the Commission, often justified in terms of media pluralism. Subject to their conformity with Community law, the Commission has been able to assent to such aids.
It is not within the remit of the Commission to initiate funding programmes that support Internet and newspapers. However, the Honourable Member should be aware that the independent study on a system of indicators to measure media pluralism in a broad sense, (including indicators on the situation of journalism) currently being undertaken on the Commission's behalf, is nearing completion.