Government in press subsidy reversal

The Swedish government will not implement a controversial proposal which would drastically cut press subsidies to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) and Skånska Dagbladet newspapers.

Instead, the matter will be addressed by the European Commission, based on the level of press support approved by the Riksdag in 2006, writes Sweden’s Minister of Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth in SvD’s opinion pages.

In the meantime, the government has put forward a new proposal that would still cut supports to the two newspapers, but by much smaller amounts.

“A special support is needed for newspapers with weaker market share so that readers can have real freedom of choice,” writes Adelsohn Liljeroth.

In the spring, the government proposed that subsidies to SvD and Skånska Dagbladet would be reduced incrementally from the current level of 65.4 million kronor ($10.2 million) to 17 million kronor. The reduction was set to start next year and be phased in over a five-year period.

The government’s new proposal entails a much smaller cut big-city newspaper supports, as well as a 10 percent increase in overall press subsidies.

The new press support levels are to take effect in 2009.

In practice, subsidies to a medium-sized rural newspaper would go up from 15.3 million kronor to 16.9 million.

Meanwhile, SvD and Skånska Dagbladet would see their subsidies drop by 4.5 million kronor to 60.9 million kronor.


German steel giant rejects ‘high cost’ state support

German industrial giant Thyssenkrupp on Friday rejected state participation to support it during the pandemic, an option favoured by unions but judged too costly by management.

German steel giant rejects 'high cost' state support
Thyssenkrupp's offices in Duisberg. Photo: Ina Fassbender / dpa / AFP
“State participation off the table,” Klaus Keysberg, the group's financial director, told the German daily Rheinische Post on Friday.
Keysberg blamed “high costs” in the long term of government assistance, “due to the interest payments and the terms of repayment.”
Already weakened by years of cut-price competition from China in the steel industry, Thyssenkrupp has further struggled with the effects of the pandemic that caused business activity to plunge.
The company said in mid-November it would cut an additional 5,000 jobs as part of its restructuring plan, bringing the total to nearly 11,000, to be spread out over several years.
Thyssenkrupp chief executive Martina Merz has not ruled out state assistance.
The powerful IG Metall union had organised rallies in October to demand a rescue plan from Berlin.
But the government was never enthusiastic, despite their acquisition of stakes in the airline Lufthansa and tour operator TUI, which also had business ravaged by Covid-19.
“I don't believe that nationalisation is the right response at the moment,” Germany's Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said in October on Thyssenkrupp.   
But national and regional governments favour more traditional aid structures, such as subsidies, or moves to convert to production of so-called green steel.
Discussions will continue to find alternatives.
A takeover of Thyssenkrupp's steel activities is still on the cards. British steel giant Liberty, founded by industrialist Sanjeev Gupta, launched a takeover bid in October.
Discussions are also underway with Sweden's SSAB and India's Tata Steel.
An alliance with fellow German steelmaker Salzgitter to create a national steel champion is also being considered. But these options won't be decided until “spring 2021”, Thyssenkrupp said.