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Supporting Local and Regional News Media in Face of Emerging News Deserts

4 04+00:00 July, 2022 @ 8:00 - 17:00

Supporting Local and Regional News Media in Face of Emerging News Deserts (CNECT/2022/4365314)









1.990.000,00 €





In order to be eligible, the applicants (beneficiaries and affiliated entities) must:

  • Be legal entities (public or private bodies);
  • Be established in one of the eligible countries, i.e.:
    • EU Member States (including overseas countries and territories (OCTs);
  • Proposals may be submitted by news media organisations or organisations active in, or with proven expertise in the media domain, such as:
    • Non-profit organisation (private or public);
    • Civil society organisations
    • Public authorities (national, regional, local);
    • International organisations;
    • Non-governmental organisations;
    • Universities;
    • Educational institutions;
    • Research centres;
    • Profit making entities;
  • Other entities may participate in other consortium roles, such as associated partners, subcontractors, third parties giving in-kind contributions, etc;
  • Non-profit and civil society organisations are encouraged to apply to this call;

Consortium composition

The following applications are allowed: Applications by single applicants (single beneficiaries; affiliated entities and other participants are allowed, if needed) OR proposals submitted by a consortium of applicants (beneficiaries; affiliated entities and other participants are allowed, if needed but affiliated entities do not count as separate applicants).



The objectives of this pilot project are twofold.

First, it shall help improve the knowledge base of the regional, local and community news media landscape in the EU. While the positive role of news media for social cohesion, trust and democracy at the community, local or regional levels has been underlined, more and better data and overviews around the health and presence of such media is lacking across the EU. Future public policies as well as funding initiatives (from the private as well as the public sector) must be able to rely on quality data.

A second objective is to support news media and initiatives serving those local and regional communities (including, for example, communities of place or linguistic communities) for whom the qualitative and/or quantitative provision of professional news content is strained. In doing so, existing local, regional and community media would become more resilient, more independent, and less likely to disappear.

Ultimately, this support should increase media pluralism, help uphold democracy and people’s right to information, and drive communities to consume more independent and plural information that addresses issues affecting them and their communities and/or localities.


Themes and priorities (scope)

In view of achieving the above objectives, proposals shall put forward two activities.

A first priority/activity (Activity 1), linked to the first objective above, is the mapping of the local and regional news media landscape across the EU and the identification of existing or potential “media deserts”.

A second priority/activity (Activity 2), linked to the second objective is, through a media funding scheme, to help strengthen local, regional and community news media across the EU. According to the existing research and literature, support to innovative, bottom-up and digital initiatives that can also test innovative editorial workflows, distribution or business models (incl. new community development models and diversification of revenue sources) could help improve local and regional media’s capacity to reach and serve their communities and audiences, and offer them relevant and plural information.


Activities that can be funded (scope)

 Activity 1

Research will present a state-of-play (mapping) of the local, regional and community news offer in the European Union, in particular in existing or potential “media deserts”. Applicants shall define and operationalise the criteria used to qualify “media deserts”, and apply them across Member States. This mapping shall allow for an assessment of the state of local, regional and community media in the EU (e.g. outline and identify areas at risk across the EU) and identify common features across groups of countries.

Applicants are invited to ensure they have sufficient expertise and skills to carry out this task within the project team. They shall detail their research methodology and the format the mapping will take, bearing in mind that they are encouraged to use visual elements. The mapping shall be useful to public and private organisations supporting news media, and findings should be publicly available to ensure maximum dissemination.

Activity 2

Financial support to third parties is considered essential to achieve the objectives of this Call. Applicants will prepare and implement a media funding scheme destined to EU Member States taking into account the themes and priorities described above (e.g.  innovation strategies, adoption of new technologies, etc.).

They will describe its purpose and objectives, and will provide the corresponding financial resources to be allocated to the funding. They will present in detail the call(s) for applications they foresee. They shall explain their outreach strategy and how they will communicate and promote their funding scheme to eligible parties, so that it is made known in different countries and languages.

In particular, applicants will have to provide:

  • The geographical focus of the funding scheme, knowing that (i) activities carried out by third parties must take place in EU Member States (ii) applicants shall ensure that the funding scheme ultimately supports news media initiatives (third parties) in at least 5 EU Member States; (iii) they are encouraged to cover as many areas and news media as possible;
  • An exhaustive list of the types of activities for which a third party may receive financial support. Activities must foster the transformation and innovation capacities of media and have a long-lasting impact for local, regional and community media as well as their communities. In this context, eligible costs include support to acquire, develop or maintain technical tools and IT equipment as part of a wider innovation strategy/uptaking of new technologies; support to attend training; support to editorial innovation and audience engagement actions; support to business innovation actions (e.g. diversification of revenues); and support to personnel costs associated to such innovation/transformation/technology uptaking approach;
  • The definition of entities which may receive financial support, knowing that (i) supporting local, regional and community media based in the EU constitutes  the core of the action; (ii) the priority of this Pilot project is to support such media in areas where needs have been identified and media for which EU  financing can have the greater leverage; (iii) the priority is not to support a  local coverage by national generalist media or established media conglomerates, nor activist media, understood as forms of media produced by  and for individuals and groups engaged in social and political campaigning and  organising;
  • Details and justifications of the amount(s) to be granted to each third party and the criteria for determining it/them, as well as the modalities of payment they intend to apply (breakdown, timing, etc.), knowing that (i) the amount of financial support per third party should not exceed 60.000,00 €; (ii) applicants are invited to offer both small and medium amounts in order to provide for initiatives of different scales; (iii) no co-funding from the ultimate  beneficiaries (i.e the third parties receiving the support) shall be required;
  • Their selection procedure, and in particular the different criteria (further to the ones listed above) for awarding financial support;
  • An explanation as to how they intend to ensure independence, to avoid conflicts of interests on the part of their evaluation jury and to guarantee the editorial independence of the selected projects;
  • Their management and control system, in particular to prevent, mitigate, detect, report on and remedy risks to the effective implementation of the activity and the achievement of its expected outcomes, as well as any reputational risk (e.g. breach of EU values);
  • A calendar of their actions, in line with requirements detailed notably in this section as well as section 4 (Project duration and start date) and 10 (Milestones and deliverables) of the Call Document.

The call for proposals launched by the beneficiary to support third parties shall respect the following conditions:

  • It must be open, published widely and conform to EU standards concerning transparency, equal treatment, conflict of interests and confidentiality;
  • It must be consulted with the European Commission prior to publication and remain open for at least 2 months;
  • Application forms and procedures should be tailor-made to the technical and managerial capacities of local, regional and community media;
  • Applicants for financial support to third parties shall indicate which editorial standards (e.g. independent reporting) they adhere to, knowing these must be aligned with the usual professional standards of journalistic coverage, authoritative in the sector.

The outcome of the call must be published on the applicants’ website, including a description of the selected projects, links, the activities funded, award dates, projects duration, budgets received, and final recipient legal names and countries. This should take the form of “identity fiches”.


Eligible activities

The following types of activities are eligible under this call for proposals:

  • studies, analyses, mapping projects;
  • data collection and treatment costs;
  • creation and maintenance of websites/webpages and platforms;
  • awareness and dissemination actions;
  • coordination/personnel/technical costs and resources related to the points above;
  • financial support to third parties (see details in section 2/call document)

Expected impact

  • Under Activity 1, the mapping task shall contribute to informing the work of public, private and civil society organisations supporting local, regional and community media (beyond the project’s lifetime) and addressing media deserts across the EU. It shall also support and inform the regular activities of the applicant and better serve areas most in need.
  • Under Activity 2, applicants are encouraged to support at least 25 news media projects altogether. Funding is expected to sustain the existence and improve the long-term resilience of the benefitting local, regional and community media, and the wider news media landscapes. In doing so, it should prevent the formation and consolidation of ‘news deserts’ across the EU, improve the uptake of new technologies across the local, regional and community news media sectors and lead to increase communities’ consumption of relevant and plural information.


The available call budget is 1.990.000,00 €

The EU co-financing is limited to a maximum of 90% of the total eligible costs.

It will be fund 1 project for a maximum grant amount of 1.990.000,00 € This does not preclude the submission/selection of a proposal requesting a lower amount.

Projects should normally range between 15 and 18 months and start in March 2023 at the latest.

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4 04+00:00 July, 2022
8:00 - 17:00
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