French newspaper sales continue to plummet

14th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 14 (AFP) - Leading French newspapers lost large numbers of readers in 2004 as the crisis brought on by the Internet and free-sheets continued to bite, according to figures published Monday.

PARIS, March 14 (AFP) - Leading French newspapers lost large numbers of readers in 2004 as the crisis brought on by the Internet and free-sheets continued to bite, according to figures published Monday.

The top-selling national daily Le Monde fell by 4.1 percent for a circulation of 330,768. Following narrowly behind, the conservative daily Le Figaro was down 3.1 percent on 329,721.

Even sharper falls were recorded by the left-wing Liberation - down 7.8 percent on 139,479 - and the troubled France-Soir which collapsed 11.6 percent to just 62,197 daily papers sold.

By contrast the general news daily Aujourd'hui rose by 3.1 percent to hit 153,097 readers and the financial Les Echos was up 2.1 percent on 116,856.

The Communist paper L'Humanite and the Catholic La Croix also saw small increases.

Outperforming all the national news dailies was the sports paper L'Equipe which was up 8.6 percent on 355,135. The biggest selling newspaper remains the regional daily Ouest France with around 750,000 copies.

Hit by the biggest slump in sales since World War Two, the four worst-hit titles - Le Monde, Le Figaro, Liberation and France-Soir - have all recently been forced to accept injections of cash from outside investors. All are planning an aggressive relaunch to win back readers.

France's national press has long suffered from miserable circulation figures compared to its European neighbours. The poor showing is blamed on an archaic distribution system, a complex post-war organisational structure that gives unions considerable power, and Paris-based elitism.

The crisis has been exacerbated in recent years by plummeting advertising revenue and the competition from news websites and free newspapers distributed in several cities.

The top nine French national dailies sell around 1.4 million copies every day.

By contrast the top ten British newspapers sell almost 12 million, with the Daily Telegraph - the leading broadsheet - on 900,000 and the tabloid Sun on 3.2 million.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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