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France Speeds Up Cross-Media Ownership Plan

Posted January. 09, 2009 07:27,   


A government committee led by French President Nicolas Sarkozy`s key aide Emmanuelle Mignon submitted yesterday a report on easing regulations on cross-media ownership to French Culture Minister Christine Albanel.

Sarkozy is expected to announce the specific reforms based on this report in his upcoming New Year’s news conference Jan. 23.

Mignon is said to have filed the report under Sarkozy’s order to activate French newspapers, which have fallen behind in the digital era. Since then, the presidential aide has consulted with scholars and experts through negotiations and a seminar.

The report suggested allowing TV networks to own newspapers, citing most foreign newspapers with high profitability and independent management belong to giant media groups.

Under French law, a corporation can own either a TV network or newspaper, but not both at the same time.

If the report is adopted, large corporations are likely to own print and broadcast media simultaneously. A print media outlet can own a broadcaster and vice versa.

In an interview with the leading French daily Le Monde last year, Sarkozy said, “French newspapers have the lowest circulation in the world. I want to change this situation and cultivate the environment so that France has world renowned newspapers.”

“As for Lagardere, owner of a print media outlet, it has no broadcast network, while the private TF1 Network Bouygues lacks a print media outlet.”

To help newspapers struggling to make ends meet, the report also outlined a cut in value-added taxes for providing Web-based news services from 19.6 percent to 2.1 percent, a level equal to that of newspapers.

The joint delivery system of French newspapers is also slated for reform. Under a 1947 law, French publishers are guaranteed newsstand space and national distribution, thus preventing vendors from adapting to market demand.

For this reason, many say vendor autonomy should be expanded.

The Sarkozy administration plans to draw a final version of the reform bill after reviewing another report on media and digital era drafted by the media reform committee at the end of last year.