Sweden is proud that it guarantees freedom of the press. Every news outlet is free to publish anything it wants — provided that it agrees with the consensus of the government and the major political parties, if the minister of culture has her way.
Swedish media outlets depend on government subsidies for the survival of their operations. Without the help of taxpayers’ kroner, a newspaper would find it hard to survive, as attested by the recent experience of Dispatch International.
Up until now the government has guaranteed the impartiality of press subsidies. No matter the opinion expressed, the government would not curtail the funding of any newspaper. But what the government may grant, it may also withhold, and the temptation to manipulate content by withholding state subsidies is all but irresistible.
One suspects that this principle of government neutrality has been more honored in the breach than in the observance, even in Sweden. However, the real state of affairs has now been revealed — the iron fist is out of the velvet glove.
According to Fria Tider:
Swedish Government: Press subsidies must depend on attitude to immigration
Stockholm (Fria Tider). Swedish minister for Culture Lena Adelsohn-Liljeroth (Liberal) is critical of a Parliamentary committee and its decision to uphold the rules stating that press subsidies may not depend on newspapers’ political content. According to the responsible minister, a “democracy clause” should be included in the new legislation, barring “immigrant-critical” news outlets from receiving the statutory subsidies.
“One example is the debate that occurred while the pronounced immigrant-critical newspaper Nationell Idag received press subsidy” Adelsohn-Liljenroth writes in an article published on SVT Debatt.
She notes that it was against this background [that Nationell Idag was granted press subsidy] that she gave the Parliamentary Committee on Press Subsidies the directive to determine whether rules should call for “respect for the ideals of democracy” or otherwise ensure that subsidies are justified from a “democratic perspective”. The wordings denote the sharing of views on migration policy proposed by the Swedish government, most political parties and mainstream media. However, the ministerial directive to the committee resulted in an unwelcome conclusion. Mrs. Adelsohn-Liljeroth: “The Committee concluded that such a requirement could be seen as a way to hinder the printed word. I disagree with that assessment”.
Now the government threatens to introduce a political section in the subsidy rules nevertheless — even though all members of the relevant parliamentary committee oppose it. “I am now awaiting the respondents’ views on the proposal of the Press Subsidies Committee. I hope the responses provide a basis for imposing a democracy clause in the new press subsidy regulation,” Adelsohn-Liljeroth concludes.
Hat tip: LN.