Staff at 'Liberation' appeal for cash infusion

14th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 14, 2006 (AFP) - The staff of France's iconic left-wing daily Liberation, crippled by falling circulation and mounting debt, on Thursday issued a public appeal to the main investor to ensure the title survives.

PARIS, Sept 14, 2006 (AFP) - The staff of France's iconic left-wing daily Liberation, crippled by falling circulation and mounting debt, on Thursday issued a public appeal to the main investor to ensure the title survives.

In a two-page open letter, the paper's staff and editors appealed to the financier Edouard de Rothschild to "ensure the longevity of the publication" by investing in new editorial projects alongside cost-cutting measures.

"Libération is entering a unique and difficult period in its history," the letter said, warning the coming few weeks would be "crucial" for the paper's future. "Today we have little time and little means left."

It said there was a "need to clean up the accounts, to lay flat the functioning of the company Liberation — but also, and especially, to invest," calling on Rothschild to "take his responsibilities".

Libération's co-founder Serge July resigned in June as part of a recovery plan to save it from bankruptcy, a condition set by Rothschild — who took a 38.8-percent stake in the paper last year — for a new injection of capital.

Many of the paper's 280 staff, and some readers, are concerned that Rothschild's influence spells the end of the newspaper's historic aim of providing a voice free from the pressures of advertising and financial capital.

Four of Libération's leading journalists — including Florence Aubenas, who was held hostage in Iraq for more than five months last year — announced last week they were leaving the paper in protest at the recent management changes.

The letter sought to reassure readers that Liberation's editorial independence had been unharmed by July's departure — stressing that his successor as chairman Vittorio de Filippis was a journalist by background — and called on them to mobilise to safeguard its independence.

More than 350 readers had logged onto the paper's website by midday to pledge their support, and offer their suggestions for the paper's future.

A member of the European banking family, Rothschild invested EUR 20 million in Libération in January 2005, but is said to be furious at the newspaper's continuing losses which hit EUR five million in the first half of this year.

Most 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.

Despite a revamp of the paper's Internet site and the launch of a week-end supplement, Libération's circulation has failed to pick up.

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

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article