This case study analyses the relationship between European news agencies and the state. On the basis of interviews, official documents and secondary sources, we examine recent developments in the relationship with the state in a sample of four countries – Finland, France, Poland and Spain – representing different kinds of media systems. While the evolution of this relationship has been different and unique in each country, they are all bound by the competition rules of the European Union, and the challenges that the agencies face are similar. In general, European news agencies are struggling to keep their basic news services profitable. We argue that in the age of fake news and disinformation the social and democratic value of these news services is much greater than their economic value to their owners. From the democracy perspective, these services can be understood as a public good, and therefore the subsidising of content with a high information value can be in the public interest if certain preconditions are met. At the same time, safeguarding the editorial, and in particular the structural, independence of the agencies from political control is essential.
- 518 Media and communications