The Council of Europe recently issued a statement that all states should publish Covid 19 information in the respective minority languages present within the territory. The OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities (HCNM) and the UN Special Rapporteur on Minorities also supported this statement. Nonetheless, in most EU Member States, information about Covid-19 has not been published in the minority languages that exist on the national territory.
For many Europeans, minority newspapers are the only source of information in their mother tongue, and not just in times of Covid-19. The newspapers are not only providers of information, they give minorities a voice and are indispensable for preserving the language and for the diversity of Europe. It is the newspapers who are now also taking over the task of many states and carry out the necessary translation of the measures in the various minority and regional languages.
However, Covid-19 puts many of these minority newspapers in a difficult financial situation. In most cases, advertising make up 30 to 40% of the income, which Covid-19 has almost erased. Also, distribution is difficult: in many countries the newspaper is no longer, or only sporadically, delivered and delivery is sometimes associated with additional costs at the moment. With fewer sales and fewer subscriptions, a few newspapers run the risk of not coping with this situation.
For this reason, the European Association of Daily Minority and Regional Language Newspapers (MIDAS), which represents 26 minority newspapers in Europe and is based in Bolzano/South Tyrol, presented the situation to the parliamentarians of the Intergroup for Traditional Minorities in the European Parliament at the beginning of the week and asked for financial support. In addition to direct financial support for printing costs, parliamentarians were asked to support minority media in the European Parliament’s extensive Covid-19 budgets.
MIDAS also took up the Council of Europe proposal and encouraged the EU, through its national offices in the relevant EU Member States, to publish information about EU activities related to Covid-19 in minority daily newspapers.
These advertisements would not only make an important financial contribution to the survival of minority daily newspapers in Europe, but would also contribute to transparency in the fight against Covid-19. And the European Parliament would send a strong sign of solidarity to Europe’s minorities.
„ The first reactions of some Members of Parliament after the meeting filled me with hope. The members understood the difficult situation of and I expect that the Intergroup will give our newspapers a voice in the European Parliament and, hopefully, find a way to support our newspapers with concrete actions.“, Edita Slezáková, President of Midas emphasized the expectations after the meeting.