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PR(06)41: The EFTA Surveillance Authority authorises a state support scheme in the Liechtenstein draft Media Support Act

20.9.2006

Today, the EFTA Surveillance Authority approved the support scheme in the Liechtenstein draft Media Support Act. The draft Media Support Act establishes a scheme according to which media undertakings can receive state support for the creation of journalistic-editoral content of a medium, which reports permanently and to an important extent on politics and events in Liechtenstein. This can cover print media, broadcasting as well as the internet. Further aid can be given for the dissemination of such media and for training and education measures for employees involved in the creation of a medium reporting on Liechtenstein topics.

The draft Media Support Act will replace the former Liechtenstein Support Act and will enter into force on 1 January 2007. The aid will be administered by the Liechtenstein Media Commission and a yearly budgetary allocation of CHF 1,5 million (EUR 966 000) is foreseen for the support scheme.

While the Authority considers the prospective payments to be state aid within the meaning of Article 61 (1) of the EEA Agreement, the Authority considers the aid compatible with the functioning of the EEA Agreement. The Authority acknowledges that due to the size of the Liechtenstein market, there is only a very limited number of media undertakings which permanently report on Liechtenstein topics. The dissemination of programmes, news and reports on Liechtenstein topics plays however a fundamental role in preserving the cultural identity of the Liechtenstein population and fostering media pluralism, which is important for Liechtenstein citizens to form opinions and exercise their democratic rights. The Authority finds that the state aid will only distort competition and affect trade within the EEA to a limited extent. The Authority hereby takes into account that there is no great transnational circulation of Liechtenstein media and that the scheme is open to foreign media undertakings. The potential aid recipients will mainly be small or medium sized undertakings.

The Authority’s decision is valid until 31 December 2011, when Liechtenstein will have to re-notify the scheme to the Authority.

For further information, please contact:
Mr. Amund Utne,
Director, Competition and State Aid Directorate,
Tel. (+32) (0)2 286 1850; or

Ms. Annette Kliemann,
Deputy Director, Competition and State Aid Directorate,
Tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 80.

20 September 2006




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