Monday, March 5, 2012

The presidential election and the media

On June,there will be a newly elected president in France. Whether he will be Nicolas Sarkozy or his challenger, Francois Hollande, he will have to handle very quickly some important dossiers.

The more urgent will be the fate of Presstalis, the huge and not very efficient press delivery organization. Presstalis has been losing money for many years. Its main shareholder, Lagardere, got tired of financing its 20 millions euros yearly losses and pulled out last year, leaving the firm to two daily and magazine cooperatives which are both penniless. Next June, Presstalis will be practically bankrupt and may stop functionning altogether, wich means that press delivery could stop suddenly in France. The new government will have to chose between two unpleasant solutions. Either, it will invest public funds to fill a growing gap or it will undertake a major upheaval of a system which was set up 65 years ago and is now a hopeless mess. The heavily unionized employees of Presstalis are sure to fight adamantly against any drastic staff reduction although it is overdue. For the socialist Hollande it will not be the best opening of his presidency. If Sarkozy is elected he will have every reason to regret not having solved the Presstalis quandary four years ago, when he launched an ambitious reorganization of the French press.

Now, it is too late to save the old order. Common sense tells us that the press must follow the rules of delivery that apply to any other product. It is not a matter of privilege any more. Will the new government use his common sense?

My next blog will deal with the other aspects of a public policy of the media.