Federal government stops plans for millions in funding from press publishers

The federal government is stopping its previous plans to promote the digital transformation from press publishers in the millions. The Federal Ministry of Economics announced on Tuesday at the request of the dpa: “After an intensive examination of the constitutional, budgetary and state aid circumstances and after careful consideration of all interests involved, it was decided not to pursue the program to promote the digital transformation of the publishing industry”. There was no further information.

Publishers associations criticized the preliminary failure. They called for effective delivery promotion to be introduced from the beginning of the next legislative period. Over the past few months, there have been repeated debates and changes regarding the plans for funding millions. Newspaper and magazine publishers appealed to introduce funding specifically for the delivery of printed press products.

Another reason is the declining circulation of press products and rising costs in the distribution of newspapers and magazines. The whole thing was to preserve press diversity in Germany in the long term and also ensure the delivery of the printed papers and magazines in rural regions.

The online magazine Krautreporter, which would have received nothing in terms of funding, on the other hand, welcomed the end of the funding project as a “good day for freedom of the press”. The creators of the online portal had opposed the promotion and described it as unconstitutional because it only affects media that deliver physical newspapers or magazines. Among other things, Krautreporter had requested the Federal Ministry of Finance in a legal letter to discontinue the funding program. A constitutional lawsuit had also been announced.

Months ago, the federal government’s plans looked like this: This year, press publishers were to be given 180 million euros to support the digital transformation. Last summer, the Bundestag decided on funding of up to 220 million euros over several years. After that, it was also a question of drawing up a funding guideline. The lead in the project changed between ministries.

The federal government had originally decided on funding specifically for the delivery of daily newspapers and advertising papers – but then later switched to funding for digital conversion in publishing houses. At times it was considered to distribute the money in this way: Subscription newspapers (around 59 percent), magazines (around 11 percent) and advertising papers (around 30 percent) with an editorial share of at least 30 percent that can demonstrate investments in digital.


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