AFP boss aims to target news direct to web users

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Agence France-Presse, one of the world's top news agencies, aims to stream its news direct to web users via hand-held devices and direct-access Internet content, not solely via its media clients, its chief executive Emmanuel Hoog said in comments published Thursday.

"We must get out of the strict system where agencies sell their content to the newspapers who then sell it to the wider public," he said in comments published in the newspaper Le Monde.

"It would be absurd for the third-biggest world news agency not to have an application on the iPad (Apple's portable tablet device), on smart phones, as well as on the Internet," added Hoog, who took the helm at AFP in April.

"How can we imagine Associated Press and Reuters launching applications in French and not AFP?" he added, referring to the agency's competitors which also produce news in French.

AFP's board includes several representatives of the regional newspapers who are among its main domestic clients and who have expressed opposition to his plan to shift the agency's focus away from them and target consumers directly.

The domestic French media have traditionally been major target clients for AFP, but Hoog said more than half of the agency's commercial revenues now come from abroad.

AFP recorded revenues of 270 million euros (346 million dollars) in 2009.

Hoog said AFP was considering ways of earning money from online news.

"I am against the option of offering all content for free, because I think that information has a value. We can imagine for example having some content free while charging for other content," he said.

Operating in 165 countries, AFP produces photo, video, graphics and multimedia news products as well as text reports in French, English, Spanish, Arabic, German and Portuguese.

© 2010 AFP

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