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Developments of French Newspaper Publishing A general view by Else Delaunay IFLA Newspapers Section International Newspapers Conference Canberra - 22 February 2005 A brief introduction Nature of newspapers:

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developments of french newspaper publishing
Developments of French Newspaper Publishing

A general view


Else Delaunay

IFLA Newspapers Section

International Newspapers Conference

Canberra - 22 February 2005

a brief introduction
A brief introduction
  • Nature of newspapers:

journalism is involved in all features of life, worldwide, nationally, regionally or locally

  • Function of newspapers:

it interferes with the behaviour of all social, political, economic and cultural groups, in fact it concerns all individuals

  • General data and features:

globalization of exchanges leads to harmonizing of life styles in rich countries and results in the internationalization of the media market

  • National features are better preserved in writing, whether periodical or not, because they are based on a long writing tradition and use of journalism
  • Regulation of French newspaper publishing:

it is based on the very liberal bill of 21st June 1881 when newspaper publishing finally got freedom of expression. Basically it is still the real charter of French newspaper publishing

reasons of the present stagnation
Reasons of the present stagnation

Economic degradation due to fall

of incomings

sales incomings
Sales incomings

for various reasons most daily newspapers show a regular fall in sales, in particular single copy sales (too high prices, cheap information through audiovisual media, free papers, etc.)

newspaper sales in france
National Newspapers

Single copy: 77 %

Home delivery and Postal delivery*: 23 %

*subscriptions represent a smaller part of the national newspapers


Regional Newspapers

Single copy: 48 %

Home delivery*: 38 %

Postal delivery*:14 %

*subscriptions are better off for regional newspapers sales

Newspaper sales in France
advertising incomings
Advertising incomings
  • most display advertising goes to the magazines, to free papers and to the audiovisual media
  • classified advertising shrinks regularly, especially in national newspapers
written newsprint incomings 2003
Written Newsprint Incomings 2003

Turnover in 2003 : 10,25 billion €

(0.4 % reduction with regard to 2002, principally due to a cutting down of advertising incomings of the daily press)

  • Sales incomings: 50.4 % = 5,166 billion €
  • Single copy: 38.6 % = 3,956 billion €
  • Deliveries: 11.8 % = 1,209 billion €
  • Advertising incomings:

49,6 % = 5,084 billion €

(2.5 % reduction with regard to 2002)

  • Display advertising: 31.7 % = 3,249 billion €
  • Classified advertising: 17.9 % = 1,835 billion €

(2.2 % cutting down with regard to 2002)

closing down of selling places
Closing down of selling places

Estimates 2004

Round 32,400 sales spots in France :

  • Some 29,000 bookshops selling newspapers and magazines (Maisons de la presse, Relay)
  • Some 2,700 corners in general stores
  • 700 booths or kiosks of which 300 are in Paris
cumulative newsprint circulation in 2003
Cumulative Newsprint Circulation in 2003


4,667,068,757 copies a year of which daily newspapers represent

2,350,609,335 copies a year

(that means a 1.88 % fall with regard to 2002)

daily newspapers companies employment down
Daily NewspapersCompanies & employment (down)

30,000 workers

  • 105 companies of more than 20 workers
  • among them, 21 companies of more then 500 workers (70% CA = turnover)
  • average size = 270 workers
    • Ouest-France: 1,900 workers of which 550 journalists
    • Sud-Ouest: 1,150 workers
    • Le Monde: 750 workers
decline due to lower information and editorial quality the decline touches all reference press now
Decline due to lower information and editorial qualityThe decline touches all reference press now
  • The editorial bid is much critizised. Many people find no interest in reading a daily newspaper and do not trust accuracy of informations or the way they are dealt with
  • Informations are generally provided by AFP (the French Press Agency) and too often given without any substantial comments or analysis
  • Newspapers reflect less and less the variety of opinons which is after all their essential role. Result: lack of concern of the readership
  • Rivals: other media (television, news magazines), free newspapers (a real explosion during the last five years), web sites, newspapers on line (internet publishing)
  • Ageing of the readership:

the regular readership represents more and more older people. It is a faithful but somehow weak readership. It does not represent the new generations which ought to be the core of the newspaper readership

  • Increase of price level:

the subscription price and especially the issue price is too high (ex. Libération and Le Monde, 1.20 €, Figaro, 1.00 €). Lower prices may improve sales. Facing the competition of free papers Libération right nowis considering to lower its price.

  • Specific French problems:

– Subscription

in general the French readership does not like to subscribe to a newspaper but prefers to buy the paper every day. This fact makes it difficult for a newspaper to get regular readers

– No newspapers published on Sunday

except two in Paris: Le Journal de Dimanche and L’Equipe Dimanche belonging to the consumer press, and some local papers

means and remedies

Means and Remedies

How to fight against stagnation and take up the challenge

  • Recent financial concentrations:

– Serge Dassault and the purchase of Socpresse in 2004 (that means some 70 French national (ex. Le Figaro)and regional newspapers (ex. Le Progrès de Lyon, Le Bien public… and magazines such as L’Express, L’Expansion, etc.)

  • Arnaud Lagardère and HFM (Hachette Filipacchi Médias), the most important publisher of magazines (ex. Paris-Match, Elle …)
  • BernardArnault (LVMH), François Pinault (PPR)
  • Other industrial investors in the Newsprint sector:

Edouard de Rothschild (20 million € just injected into Libération; saving of L’Humanité, both dailies belonging to the leftwing papers !), Martin Bouygues, Bertelsmann…

  • Philippe Hersant and France-Antilles (regional and overseas newspapers)
  • Le Monde too has serious economic difficulties and makes a recapitalisation of 50 million €. The economic recovery also involves other points: a new editor, reorganisation, cutting down of the staff, etc.
  • Supplements:

newspaper publishers look especially at the weekly supplements of more specific content (sport, fashion, TV programmes, spare time activities…)

  • The Tabloid format:

in France this small format may be adopted in order to be more attractive for the younger readership but most newspapers are still hesitating while Germany and the UK have already made progress.

  • Journalist Schools in France:

- modernizing and adopting of new teaching methods, students’ exchanges,


french newspapers on the web 1
French newspapers on the web(1)
  • Europresse

  •  AFP [French news agency] - 9 national newspapers, several regional newspapers and weeklies

and French Canadian newspapers

french newspapers on the web 2
French newspapers on the web(2)
  • Portail de la presse

 18 national, 59 regional dailies - 240 regional weeklies & round 11,000 French current magazines

many links towards professional associations & newspaper websites, especially

audit statistics
Audit & Statistics
  • Statistics are published by

Direction du développement des médias

  • Circulation is audited by

Diffusion contrôle OJD


  • Newspaper publishing in France still seems to hesitate how to reverse the present stagnation and yet new approaches are starting off.
  • Today France only ranks 31st worldwide with regard to the number of circulated dailies per 1000 inhabitants.