The European Commission has today published an additional State aid guiding template to assist Member States in the design of their national recovery and resilience plans in line with EU State aid rules, with respect to support to the digitalisation of news media. This follows the publication of eleven State aid guiding templates in December 2020. Under the Recovery and Resilience Facility, each national Recovery and Resilience plan will have to earmark a minimum level of 20% of expenditure to support the digital transition. Supporting the digital transformation of news media is essential in order to develop the viability of the sector and support the long-term development of online media and electronic publishing. The Commission’s Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2021 underlines that particular attention should be paid to supporting sectors which play a key role for our democracies, especially the media sector, where support should be provided in a way that respects and promotes media freedom and pluralism. The guiding template, like the other guiding templates, is a technical document which is intended to provide sector-specific guidance as to when (i) support does not involve State aid, and therefore prior notification to the Commission is not necessary; (ii) State aid would be involved, but no notification is necessary because it falls under a block exemption; and (iii) State aid would be involved and a notification is necessary, with reference to the main applicable State aid rules. Under the guiding template, projects for the digitalisation of news media that can receive aid should be focused on developing editorial content for electronic publishing, or on developing new solutions for electronic publishing and for attracting attention to and consumption of electronically published content, or concern innovative business models for digital publishing. Member States can use the dedicated mailbox and hotline set up by the Commission for queries on this and other guiding templates.
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