French press in crisis

30th July 2003, Comments 0 comments

French newspapers are among the most expensive and least read among developed countries. Hugh Dent reports on a press in crisis.

Jean-Marie Colombani, the chairman of the centre-left Le Monde newspaper, regarded as France's influential newspaper of record for decision-makers, recently told his staff to brace for tough times ahead.

Colombani warned that "the economic situation has deteriorated sharply, affecting our revenue directly" and that "the battle looks like being tough".

He said that recently launched free newspapers, owned by Norwegian and Swedish groups, were a "heavy prejudice" for Le Monde, which was itself created after the war to provide the establishment with a heavyweight read.

He also warned that the Dassault family, known for links with the Dassault fighter-aircraft manufacturer, having diversified its publishing interests by increasing its stake in the Socpresse group that publishes Le Figaro newspaper, had become the leading force in French news publishing, "changing our environment".

And the president of regional daily newspaper publishers, Jean-Louis Prevost, has warned that profits would "totally" disappear if EU competition authorities succeed in ending a law guaranteeing advertising for the French press: the law bans supermarkets, publishers and the film industry from advertising on television.

The French journalists' union has also warned the press is suffering severely from the economic downturn.

"Rarely has the employment of journalists and even the existence or financial balance of press companies been under such a massive threat," it said on October 4, urging the government to intervene.

In October, newspaper delivery men held a strike which kept newstands empty for 24 hours in a protest over job cuts in the press distribution systemthe, the NMPP - a co-operative with a powerful but increasingly challenged grip on the distribution of printed news material.

At the end of World War II, the 'libération' authorities in France were determined to guarantee diversity and freedom of the press which had either been forced, or chosen, to work with the collaborationist Vichy government and with the occupying Germans.

Among many measures to help the press, at the time short of money, newsprint and skilled staff, were state help for newspapers with small circulations, the creation of the NMPP with a monopoly of distribution, and de-facto control of recruitment in many print rooms by the CGT, both in recognition of the role played by the Communists in the Libération and also because the union could provide and train printers.

tre-left Le Monde newspaper, regarded as France's influential newspaper of record for decision-makers, recently told his staff to brace for tough times ahead.

Colombani warned that "the economic situation has deteriorated sharply, affecting our revenue directly" and that "the battle looks like being tough".

He said that recently launched free newspapers, owned by Norwegian and Swedish groups, were a "heavy prejudice" for Le Monde, which was itself created after the war to provide the establishment with a heavyweight read.

He also warned that the Dassault family, known for links with the Dassault fighter-aircraft manufacturer, having diversified its publishing interests by increasing its stake in the Socpresse group that publishes Le Figaro newspaper, had become the leading force in French news publishing, "changing our environment".

And the president of regional daily newspaper publishers, Jean-Louis Prevost, has warned that profits would "totally" disappear if EU competition authorities succeed in ending a law guaranteeing advertising for the French press: the law bans supermarkets, publishers and the film industry from advertising on television.

The French journalists' union has also warned the press is suffering severely from the economic downturn.

"Rarely has the employment of journalists and even the existence or financial balance of press companies been under such a massive threat," it said on October 4, urging the government to intervene.

In October, newspaper delivery men held a strike which kept newstands empty for 24 hours in a protest over job cuts in the press distribution systemthe, the NMPP - a co-operative with a powerful but increasingly challenged grip on the distribution of printed news material.

At the end of World War II, the 'libération' authorities in France were determined to guarantee diversity and freedom of the press which had either been forced, or chosen, to work with the collaborationist Vichy government and with the occupying Germans.

Among many measures to help the press, at the time short of money, newsprint and skilled staff, were state help for newspapers with small circulations, the creation of the NMPP with a monopoly of distribution, and de-facto control of recruitment in many print rooms by the CGT, both in recognition of the role played by the Communists in the Libération and also because the union could provide and train printers.

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