Sweden’s system of press subsidies has come under the microscope after an openly racist publication received millions of kronor in public funding last week. Opinion has been split on how best to handle state press subsidies ever since the Press Subsidies Council (Presstödsnämnden) agreed on Wednesday to award SEK 2.3m (USD 321,000) in operational support to Nationell Idag (‘National Today’), a weekly newspaper run by the extreme right-wing National Democrat party. Culture Minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, herself formerly a delegate on the subsidies council, said a review was needed of guidelines prohibiting the council from taking a publication’s political views into consideration. The European Commission gave Sweden a rap on the knuckles last June for maintaining a system of press subsidies that “distorts competition”, calling on the country to gradually cut back its support for large circulation metropolitan newspapers. In its decision on Wednesday, the Press Subsidies Council ruled that Nationell Idag fulfilled the criteria necessary to qualify for operational press subsidies. For example, the council found that the newspaper publishes more than 1,500 copies, is primarily sold to subscribers, and publishes at least 1,000 column metres of editorial material per year. Nationell Idag was granted SEK 699,583 for August to December last year, as well as SEK 1.679m for 2010. On its website the Press Subsidies Council explains that it is “a governmental organisation whose task is to safeguard the diversity of the daily newspaper market. It carries out its function by distributing the state’s subsidy to the daily press.” The council disburses operational subsidies totalling 483 million kronor a year to around 80 newspapers.