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Italy approves support measures for newspapers and kiosks

A woman buys the newspaper in Santa Cruz de Tenerife./EFE
A woman buys the newspaper in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. / EFE

The Government of Conte will make tax breaks to advertisers and press sellers to guarantee the right to information

. The coronavirus epidemic these days generates in different countries a great paradox in the media sector. And is that society probably consumes more news these days than once and, on the other hand, these are accompanied by the least amount of advertising that is remembered. To help the press sector, the Italian government approved on Monday night a series of grants that include the possibility that companies can deduct 30% of all advertising investments this year in newspapers and digital media, in addition to local televisions and radios.

The Executive of Giuseppe Conte, like other countries such as Spain, officially classifies newspapers and magazines as necessities when understanding that guarantee the right to information. In this sense, the measures also include aid to Italian kiosks, which in recent weeks have opened their stores under challenging conditions to distribute the press. They will be able to deduct up to 4,000 euros in costs such as rent or electricity bills, telephone or internet and also home delivery costs.

Newspaper sales remain stable in the transalpine country. They have risen significantly in the areas most affected by the epidemic, with increases of between 10% and 15%, according to the Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers (FEIG). In the same way, Internet news traffic has grown at a dizzying pace. Despite the right numbers, advertisers have deserted the newspapers, says Fabrizio Carotti, FEIG director-general. The reason is that the products that appeared on the advertising pages can no longer be purchased as a result of the closure of commercial activity and confinement. The collapse of ads in the first half of the year is estimated to be between 20 and 30%.

The situation of the press in Italy is similar to that experienced in Spain, which reproduces with a rough week of delay the consequences of the pandemic. In Spain, despite the sales recorded by newspapers in some areas, has already closed 16% of the press outlets, more than 3,300 establishments, due to the difficulties that sellers face to open their businesses every day.

Due to the need for information generated by the crisis, neighbourhood movements have sprung up in different Spanish cities to be able to get the press to people considered a risk group for possible infections, such as the elderly. Too some volunteers bring the media to some rural areas, due to Correos’ refusal to continue distributing the press to isolated populations.

The government in the decree of the state of alarm classifies the newspapers as essential articles. Still, it has not established minimum services in the public company, which with 53,000 employees is the largest distribution company in the country and, nevertheless, maintains less than a third of the workforce working during this crisis.

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