It is settled. The Fribourg-based media must manage without state support.

The Council of State in Friborg excludes the trace of structural support for the press. The director draws his conclusion from a report based on a study that analyzes the state of the local media and discusses ways to maintain the current offer.

Serge Gumy, publisher of La Liberté, La Gruyère, Le Messager and La Broye, says he is disappointed with the solutions proposed by the Fribourg State Council (archives).

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“Independent media are essential for the proper functioning of a democracy”, acknowledges the President of the Council of State Olivier Curty in an interview published on Saturday in La Liberté. “However, the canton has neither the constitutional basis nor the legal basis to introduce direct support,” adds the Minister of Economy.

“This did not prevent the canton from supporting the media in the extraordinary context of the Covid crisis”, reminds the minister, for whom structural measures must be adopted at the federal level. The report follows a postulate from two deputies from the left, which was adopted unanimously minus one abstention just a year ago.

Nothing for Keystone ATS

The study mentions two tracks in particular: the promotion of innovation and the establishment of a follow-up round table discussion. The national news agency Keystone-ATS is also excluded from possible support. Beyond that, Olivier Curty admits that “classical” media is not a branch of activity like any other.

In his eyes, the traditional media “certainly are an essential element for a democracy to function properly, but as long as they are heard”. Friday’s release of the 14-page report left township industry leaders disappointed, though most acknowledge its quality.

Difficult context

Asked by La Gruyère, Serge Gumy, publisher of La Liberté, La Gruyère, Le Messager and La Broye, finds it “well constructed, solid and in line with the economic reality of the Friborg media”. On the other hand, he said he was disappointed with the proposed solutions, “or rather the absence of concrete solutions that are really proposed.”

“The State Council is dependent on the Confederation, while federal aid is currently at a standstill,” he laments. In addition, the document returns to the collapse of advertising revenue, the aging of the readership and changes in media consumption habits.

The “often disappointing” record of Internet-based strategies is also highlighted. The report will soon be submitted to the Great Council in Fribourg.

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