Crisis at Liberation

29th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

One of the founders of France's left-wing daily Liberation is expected to quit this week, as part of a recovery plan to save the paper from bankruptcy

Circulation of the left-wing daily has failed to pick up

One of the founders of France's left-wing daily Liberation is expected to quit after a board meeting this week, as part of a recovery plan to save the paper from bankruptcy, staff representatives said Tuesday.

Principal shareholder Edouard de Rothschild has demanded the resignation of chairman Serge July — as well as that of managing director Louis Dreyfus — as a condition for a new injection of capital to rescue the newspaper.

July's resignation is expected officially to be accepted at Thursday's board meeting, according to the staff shareholders' association SCPL, which controls 18.45 percent of Liberation's capital.

Staff voted Wednesday June 28 on a joint management plan for the coming months that would split responsibilities between the SCPL and a representative named by Rothschild, the SCPL said.

*quote1*A 63-year-old former Maoist, July helped set up Liberation in 1973 with philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.

Many of Liberation's 280 staff are concerned that Rothschild's influence spells the end of the newspaper's historic aim of offering a voice that was free from the pressures of advertising and financial capital.

A member of the European banking family, Rothschild invested EUR 20 million (25 million dollars) in Liberation in January 2005, but he is said to be furious at the newspaper's continuing losses which hit EUR 900,000 in April — three times the figure budgeted for in a restructuring plan.

*quote2*Despite a revamp of the paper's Internet site and the launch of a weekend supplement, circulation has failed to pick up.

The last official figures show that Liberation sold just under 137,000 copies in France in 2005, down from 163,000 in 2001 and 182,000 in 1990.

Several national French newspapers have recently fallen into financial difficulties as a result of historically low readership figures as well as growing competition from the Internet and free-sheets.

June 2006
Copyright AFP
Subject: Living in France

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