French Newspapers Set for Government Bailout

27 January 2009

PARIS: President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced that the French government will double its advertising output in the country's newspapers and on their related websites, in order to mitigate an "emergency" in the press sector caused by falling ad revenues.

Following a three-month review of the challenges facing newspapers, the government will also increase its funding for print media – from €280 million ($362m; £261m) to €480m for the next three years.

Other provisions include giving 18 year-olds free subscriptions to a print title of their choice – an inititiative being jointly-funded by publishers – and providing tax breaks for delivery services.

Says Sarkozy: "It is the state's primary responsibility to respond to an emergency, and there is an emergency caused by the impact of the collapse of advertising revenue."

However, Emmanuel Schwartzenberg, former media editor at daily newspaper Le Figaro, says: "This is not the great reform we were waiting for."

He argues that in addition to falling circulation and advertising revenues, high printing costs, powerful trade unions and restrictive media ownership rules are also key contributors to the industry's difficulties.

Data sourced from International Herald Tribune; additional content by WARC staff