Covid-19: Group of nine editors excluded from media support calls for clarification

A group of nine publishers excluded from media support, including Impala, today asked for clarification on the criteria for allocating funds for the purchase of institutional advertising by the State, demanding “total transparency” in the process.

To help the media in the context of the impact on the covid-19 pandemic sector, the Government approved the advance purchase of institutional advertising by the State, in the amount of 15 million euros, of which 75% are aimed at national media. .

In a statement today addressed to the President of the Republic, the Minister of Culture, the Secretary of State for Cinema, Audiovisual and Media, and the presidents of the Regulatory Entity for Social Communication (ERC) and the Portuguese Press Association, this group asks for clarification on the process.

The list of media companies that will receive the support was published this Tuesday and are 13: Impresa, Media Capital, Cofina, Global Media, Grupo Rádio Renascença, Trust in News, Sociedade Vicra Desportiva, Público, Newsplex, Megafin, Avenida of the Allies, Observer and Swipe News.

The digital publications Observador and ECO (Swipe News) have already announced that they will reject the support.

“Now that the Government's deliberation was known, namely the allocation of funds, this group of companies that publish newspapers, magazines and 'websites' nationwide, subscribing to this communiqué, decided to question the official entities about the criteria that dictated the choices carried out, ”reads the statement.

The group is made up of Impala (which has Nova Gente, Maria, among others); Terra de Letras Comunicação (Turbo); Masemba (Lux, LuxWoman); RBARevistas Portugal (Elle, National Geographic); MoonMedia (Autosport, Casas de Portugal); Group V (Gadget & PC, Hunting & Hunting Dogs); Fast Lane II (Moto Jornal); How Media (Know How To Live, Prevent); and Presspeople (Mariana, Top).

“Before the general public, we want to express our perplexity because we are unable to ascertain the criteria that the Secretary of State for Culture and Media used to choose these companies. The only known criterion has to do with the amount to be distributed by the local and regional press ”, says the group.

“In the list of benefited entities, we find companies that own generalist and specialized television channels, generalist and specialized newspapers and magazines. In some cases, companies that own general websites and companies that own specialized websites ”, he adds.

“The criterion for awarding public money requires, in our opinion, total transparency. That's who complained, “conclude the nine publishing groups.

On April 17, when the support was announced, the Minister of Culture, Graça Fonseca, stated that the advance acquisition of the institutional advertising space would be made under the terms of the institutional advertising law, with 25% of the funds going to media organizations. local and regional media.

In other words, 75% of this amount “will go to national media in the information component,” said Graça Fonseca, at the press conference to present emergency support to the media, in the context of the impact of covid-19.

Lusa and RTP are not included in this advance purchase of advertising.

According to Law No. 95/2015, of 17 August, which establishes the rules for institutional advertising, “it is not allowed to carry out” these types of actions in local media that are mostly directly or indirectly owned , by public entities, nor in “publications that occupy more than 50% of the available editing space with commercial advertising content, including supplements and inserts, calculated based on the average of the editions published in the last 12 months”, as well as in publications “That are not included in the concept of the press, under the terms of the law” or in “free periodical publications”.

On Wednesday, questioned by Lusa about the way in which the distribution of the 15 million euros in advance purchase of institutional advertising by the State, source of the office of the Secretary of State for Cinema, Audiovisual and Media, recalled that the “acquisition it is made with respect for the provisions ”in that law and that, afterwards,“ the distribution of the funds is made according to proportional and objective criteria: revenues from commercial communications and circulation in the same period (second quarter of 2019) ”.

“In setting criteria and amounts, the contributions of the sector's representative entities were taken into account, namely, the Private Media Platform, the Portuguese Press Association, the Christian Inspirational Press Association, the Portuguese Radio Broadcasting Association and the Inspiration Christian radios Association as well as other interested organizations and the industry, “added source of office of the Secretary of State Nuno Artur Silva.

“The procedure is monitored by the Public Services Shared Services Entity, I. P., which is preparing administrative and contractual procedures,” said the same source on Wednesday.

Questioned by Lusa about his role in this support, the media regulator clarified that “he had (and does not) intervene in the distribution of institutional advertising”.

In fact, in terms of institutional advertising by the State, the competence of the ERC, according to the law, “is to verify the fulfillment of the communication and transparency duties provided for in the State's institutional advertising campaigns and, in particular, to supervise the application of the percentage to be affected to local and regional media in each campaign ”.

The regulator stresses that “the responsibility for selecting the media to be affected in each campaign is the exclusive responsibility of the entities promoting institutional advertising campaigns in the State (services of the direct administration of the State, public institutes and the entities that make up the public business sector) of the State) that communicate to ERC, through the Digital Platform of Institutional Advertising of the State, the costs of the acquisition of advertising space, which must be carried out within 15 days after being hired and with the sending of the respective supporting documentation ”.

After the communication, ERC “proceeds with the analysis of the amount invested in the acquisition of advertising spaces, comparing them with the respective supporting documentation, and publishes on its website an updated monthly report on the award and distribution of campaigns”.

In addition, the ERC “produces an annual report on the degree of compliance with the law, which is sent to the Assembly of the Republic by the end of the first half of each calendar year,” said an official source of the regulator.

“It is also important to note that ERC does not have sanctioning powers, but only the duty to report cases of non-compliance to the Court of Auditors”, pointed out the regulator.

ALU // EA

Covid-19: Group of nine editors excluded from media support asks for clarification appears first in Vision.

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