Sicily publishing decree, countdown for contributions

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Irfis FinSicilia, the regional finance company totally controlled by the Region, will manage the disbursement of contributions to regional publishing. With the publication in the Official Gazette of the Sicilian Region (which took place on Friday), the decree of the Councilor for the Economy Marco Falcone enters into the operational phase which allocates a dowry of 2.2 million to the sector: benefits granted in the form of non-repayable contributions that can be used for working capital needs and/or investments.

What the decree provides

«Irfis FinSicilia, within 30 days of the publication of this decree, will, subject to approval by the Department for the Economy, publish a specific notice, containing the terms and methods for submitting applications by applicants for contributions» we read. These are the criteria for assigning the sums: 2% to paper newspapers; 4% to paper editorial initiatives of different periodicity; 50% to online editorial initiatives; 12% to radio broadcasters; 32% to television broadcasters. «The amount of the subsidy – we further read – cannot, in any case, be higher than 75% of the turnover recorded by the applicant in the year 2022, net of any other revenues not deriving from the publishing activity, and relating to the activity carried out in the territory of the Sicilian Region. The benefits must be granted in compliance with community legislation on state aid.”

The commitments of the Sicilian Region

The decree is only a first step by the Region on the road to an organic intervention to support the sector: «To address the difficulties of Sicilian publishing, our intent is to make the economic support measures launched by the Region increasingly structural. The publishing crisis – says the councilor – impoverishes companies and makes journalistic work increasingly precarious, but above all it has an impact on the quality of information which is the basis of everyday civil and democratic debate. The allocations requested today by the Schifani government will be followed by others in the future, anchored to employment protection criteria, but also to the innovative drive and the importance of companies and newspapers, aid concerted with all the players in the sector”.

The appreciation of Fieg

An intervention, the Sicilian one, which publishers look at carefully: «The measures launched by the Sicily Region, the current one and the similar one to support the sector which are already operational, guarantee non-repayable financing to Sicilian publishing companies, both paper, online and radio and television , to protect pluralism and employment in the sector and constitute an example – as stated in recent days by the president of Fieg Andrea Riffeser Monti – of how regional institutions can concretely contribute to the protection of journalistic publishing and the right to information of local communities. We hope that the presidents of other regions will follow the example of the Sicilian Region, also considering that the budget bill has considerably reduced support for publishing.”

Sicilian digital publishers: «Now let’s think about a law»

The approximately 50 publishers in Sicily who are part of the Digital Publishers Federation of which Sebastiano Di Betta is president are certainly satisfied but with an eye on the sector’s perspective: «The publishers associated with the Digital Publishers Federation thank the Schifani government and the entire parliamentary majority that supported it he claims – says Di Betta –. We consider the far-sighted statements of the Sicilian Region Economic Councilor Marco Falcone to be music to our ears and we make ourselves available for institutional discussion with all the majority and opposition forces. We believe it is appropriate to extend the debate on the needs of the publishing industry to all the political forces that populate the oldest parliament in Europe.” According to the Sicilian digital publishers, «it is absolutely necessary to legislate on the matter in order to relaunch the entire supply chain not only to defend the operators in the sector, and first of all the journalists who have been mortified for years, but above all to protect the Sicilian and Italian entrepreneurial fabric which thanks publishing manages to establish itself in world markets. We believe it is essential to establish a technical table at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, open to employers’ associations that defend the right to information of local communities”.

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