Friday, December 24, 2010

what about 2011?

No doubt, 2011 will be an eventful year for the media and specially the print industry. Lets try to review a list of cases and suggest some ideas for the coming months.
Presstalis The outlook is dark for the main French delivery system of magazines and national dailies. The union is still fighting a rearguard battle on the closing down of the Paris delivery center that loses 24 million euros a year. Still a solution won't be easy to get at. It seems more and more obvious that the press delivery could easily work without Presstalis, one of the last remnants of the postwar organization of the press. With the development of sales on Internet, the distribution of any kind of product is much more easier and cheaper and regional newspapers are eager to take in charge the national dailies, provided the present regulations are cancelled. Yet, the government is afraid of any social upheaval as presidential elections are getting closer (May 2012 is just around the corner). So, there will be more strikes and a lot of money thrown away before Presstalis gets a new megal statute and is reduced to its final role, i e the delivery of magazines at a competitive cost.
I Pad and others. Some papers have mentionned I Pad and the various tablets as a "new eldorado for the press". Is it really true? It seems at least to be an over statement. Its a fact that reading a piece of news with photos on the I Pad is a pleasant experience. However very few people are willing to pay for something else than a highly specialised publication. Information websites face a quandary: either try to collect a wide audience attracting some advertising but not enough to pay for the newsroom or ask for a paid subscription with too small a number of customers. In the US, private fundations are starting to finance in depth reporting but you don't see the same opportunities in Europe.
In 2011, Murdoch and the New York Times will try to push for an extension of paid services. We'll see how many readers will subscribe to a NYT digital delivery. Will it make for the loss of advertising? One must admit that there is no clear-cut solution and, definitely, no eldorado.
Libération; The daily is fighting for its survival. It managed to collect 12 million euros from its shareholders at the end of 2010. Now, it has to find a new boss. Laurent Joffrin, the charismatic publisher, will very likely move to the Nouvel Observateur, to replace Denis Olivennes who left for Lagardère group. No doubt the owners of Libération have a lot to worry in 2011.
Le Monde. BNP, the three new owners face a tough challenge this coming year. They must stop the loss of circulation and advertising receipts and reorganize drastically the printing process and the delivery system. This means it will not be easy to break even and new investments up to 50 million euros will be necessary to finance the buying out of printers and journalists. Moreover, the company needs to be staffed with new executives competent and trusted by the shareholders. Still there is reason for hope. Le Monde is a good label, well known abroad and its website is very successful. The future could be a fairly expansive
print daily connected to a very active website that would be partially free. But le Monde badly needs a bit of strategic thinking which is presently lacking.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Le Monde

What's happening at le Monde? For many observers, there is only one answer: its a mess. The 3 new shareholders are hard to talk to and rarely meet so that nobody knows what is on their mind. Xavier Niel made a disastrous attempt to overlook the working of the daily through an old mate of him; Mr Boukobza. This fellow arrived directly from Israel to check on an activity he knows nothing about and understands little. His statements were reproduced on the website of http://le . They were so outrageous that the newsroom of le Monde had a big laugh. And yet, the big dossiers: printing, home delivery, advertising are waiting.
The biggest challenge is presently the choice of a new publisher to replace the departing Fottorino. No doubt there are many candidates but the choice should result from an agreement between the owners and the SRM. For the moment, no name has been forwarded. It seems that the best solution would be a team between Sylvie Kaufmann, the editor in chief and an expert on Internet coming from the outside. But plain common sense is not so widespread in this strange world of le Monde.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bollore and Amaury

A lot of gossip went through the media during the 3 months period of negociations about the sale of le Parisien.

Now the sale offer has been pulled out, people begin to speak and it appears that the most discreet candidate was also the most anxious to buy. His name is Vincent Bolloré, the new media tycoon, owner of 2 Tv channels, Havas and the free sheet Direct Matin. Yet, Bolloré, a savy businessman was not about to satisfy the 200 million euros proposal. He valued the newspaper to half that price. the sale offer was cancelled.
For how long? Sooner or later Amaury family will get tired of managing an expensive print product when the digital scene offers many opportunities for its sports organization. Then, Bollore may appear as a saviour. It is a part he loves to play.
Moreover, the stubborn fact is that print newspapers don't manage to transfer massive profits to their websites. Libération is lagging behind as it is looking for a new influx of capital that could be provided by Claude Perdriel if he strikes a deal with Laurent Joffrin. an opportunity made credible by the departure of Denis Olivennes from Perdriel group. Le Figaro fares much better because it bought, thanks to Dassault, several profitable websites owned by its digital branch Aden classified. By now, Figaro Group makes money because of these new digital activities of classified ads.
What is obvious is that one cannot transfer a daily to the net. Internet users are not ready to browse through screen after screen the way you read a paper. They look for specifics, for labels which are not press names but experts or specialized websites. The digital revolution has still a long way to go.