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Google in Disguise of A Trade Association for Small Independent Media

European Independent Media Publishers, EIMP. The words ‘independent media publishers’ sound like an NGO, a non-profit organisation that works for a good cause. The organisation writes that it represents over 1000 different publicist media in Europe and that it works to promote legislation that ‘promotes a diverse, competitive, free and innovative journalistic media sector.’

The Danish industry organisation Nye Medier has been a member of and sat on EIMP’s steering group since 2017. At the Nye Medier festival in November 2022, EIMP hosted a break-out session, where the association’s representative, Sebastian Remøy, was present. Remøy said that the organisation was established in connection with the adoption of the European Directive on Copyright and that his organisation represented the small voices in the media world. He staged the EIMP as one of the small ones fighting against the big, better financed organisations.

You can easily mistake Google for EIMP. In part, because as of May 2023, EIMP’s only supporter is Google, which they do declare on their website. Sebastian Remøy is employed as ‘Executive Vice President’ in the strategic communications company KREAB, headquartered in Brussels. In Nye Medier’s program, he is presented as follows:

Sebastian Remøy represents European Independent Media Publishers. EIMP is a platform that brings together national associations of independent media in Europe. They represent publishers who rely on online channels to reach their audiences. EIMP is partnered with and sponsored by Google.

Anne Sofie Christensen-Dalsgaard is behind and is the head of Nye Medier, whose main task is to improve Danish media support, so that, among other things, newly started and smaller media have easier access to media support.

“We are dissatisfied with the omnibus requirement, now that niche media are more successful. The requirement for at least three full-time employees is outdated. And then there are problems with self-financing,” she explains.

When asked how they feel about being part of an organization like EIMP, which is funded by Google, she says:

“We have been part of the EIMP since 2017 when together with a number of other European media organisations we started working to curb the copyright directive’s Article 15. We did this because the adoption – as we saw in the Spanish case, where Google News was banned – could have negative economic consequences for the smaller online media in Europe in particular. The collaboration was driven forward by the Spanish media organization CLABE (formerly AEEPP), and it is only recently that Google has become the main sponsor of the secretariat. We are perfectly fine with that, as it is the member organisations that define the policy, and now we have a presence in Brussels, where we are still tiny compared to the big lobby organisations of the traditional media, ENPA, FEP, and EPC. It’s actually fine to be funded by Google as they never interfere. But to avoid the predictable questions that you ask, EIMP has been transformed into a non-profit under Belgian law, and we are trying to broaden the funding so that it also includes, for example, payment and support from e.g. the EU, foundations, but perhaps also other companies.

Nye Medier received DKK 200,000 from Google for their festival in 2022.

Were any of your members in Nye Medier annoyed with the fact that you take money from Google for your festival?
“Google has sponsored the festival since the very first festival, and together with the Journalists’ Association, they have been our permanent partners, who have always been at the top of the poster. The festival might not have existed without that sponsorship, and there has never been any requirement as to how the sponsorship should be used. The festival has also been our best tool to draw attention to our existence and thereby recruit new members. So most of our members are probably quite satisfied that we got that sponsorship, otherwise, they wouldn’t be members of Nye Medier?”

According to some critics, money from Google equals lobby money?
“The majority of our members are effectively cut off from media support, so if you can find support that offsets the distortion of the Danish media landscape, then you are welcome to accept it. And just to clarify, we don’t get support for operations”.

Why do you think Google gives you money?
“Just to clarify again: Google is sponsoring the festival and they support the secretariat operation of EIMP. And there is no doubt that they support us, as our interests overlap. They overlapped, for example, in connection with the copyright directive, which we and our members were quite concerned about. Fortunately, we found a good way forward – partly because we called out and were listened to”.

Anne Sofie Christensen-Dalsgaard emphasises that Nye Medier has entered into a number of other collaborations with Danish partners to promote the cause of the new and smaller media and to support innovation and development in the media industry.

We have tried in vain to get a comment from Sebastian Remøy.

This is part of the report Big Tech Soft Power Danmark