‘Need high-quality journalism’: In Austria, opposition left party pledges media subscriptions for youth

The party has proposed that the state should subsidise up to €150 per year of media subscriptions for those between 16 and 18 years of age.

WrittenBy:NL Team
Illustration of a newspaper saying free for youth.

To counter disinformation and fake news, Austria’s opposition social democrats have promised to fund newspaper’s digital or print subscriptions for voters between 16 and 30 years of age, the Politico reported.     

“Investments in journalism are an investment in democracy,” said the SPÖ party leader Andreas Babler, announcing on Monday the proposal for the state to subsidise up to €150 per year of media subscriptions for the youth. The policy will be partly funded by the country’s digital tax on online advertising.

“Every day we are flooded with contradictory or unconfirmed news. We need high-quality and critical journalism that is available to all citizens free of charge. Our media policy measures will strengthen the democratic power of the media. They bear a special responsibility,” said Babler, a self-declared Marxist. He added that publications will be deemed eligible for the scheme on the basis of their size and commitment to journalistic ethics

The far-right Freedom party or FPÖ is currently in power and won the European parliament vote this month. However, the social democrats are reportedly in a “strong position to secure the chancellorship after elections in September”.

In 2021, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz was accused of funding newspapers through government ads in exchange for favourable coverage. Austria has more than a dozen well-established daily newspapers, including far-right media outlets, such as Info-DIREKT and Freilich. However, most of the national newspaper subscriptions reportedly cost more than double the amount promised by the SPÖ. 

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