Malta should subsidise the running costs of media platforms operated and managed by media houses to help the press cope with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, the Nationalist Party has proposed.
PN MP Therese Comodini Cachia, the party’s spokesperson for the media, said the state has a responsibility to strengthen the fourth pillar of democracy in the wake of a disruption to their revenue streams from social media platforms and free media consumption habits.
Besides subsiding their running costs, Comodini Cachia has also called for the extension of the state’s COVID-19 media aid scheme, capped at €400,000 per media house, and for the provision of extra financial assistance depending on how many people they employ.
She also called for grants for the training of editors and journalists, non-commercial journalistic ventures, and the development and distribution of culture and art related content, as well as financial assistance for projects implemented by media houses which address identified social issues, educational priorities or identified communities.
Finally, she called for schools to give their students free access to newspapers and for the state to subsidise an “inter-newsroom fact-checking team”.
“The fourth pillar of our democracy is facing serious disruptions and consequences from changes in news consumption and their income from advertising has been decimated,” Comodini Cachia said.
Her proposals didn’t specify whether these measures should only apply to independent media houses, or also to media houses owned by political parties.
“We believe that we can only ensure an effective right to information, if we ensure a strong pluralistic free media with high standards and quality journalism.”
“To do this we need to put the money where our mouth is.”