Thursday, April 26, 2012

Welcome Mr Hollande

François Hollande is very likely to win the French presidential election on May 6. Although the politics of the media has not been a popular topic during the campaign, it seems very likely that the new president will have to face very soon, some akward matters concerning the vast field of Communication.

First and foremost, he will have to handle the dossier of Presstalis, the ailing organization in charge of the delivery of national newspapers and magazines. Presstalis is on the brink of bankrupcy and according to la, will need 160 millions euros to survive but for how long? Nobody has any idea about the recipe for survival for an obsolescent system dominated by the Unions.
Then it will be necessary to fix the legislation of Internet and find a middle way between the safety of the industry of creation (music, video, book publishing) and the demands of complete freedom issued noisily by many Internauts. The new bill, the new Hadopi is not written yet.
The government will also have to reorganize the costly system of press subsidies. It is obvious that public money will be ever more scarce these coming years and the many magazines will have to give up their cosy subsidies that should be totally devoted to opinion newspapers and weeklies. A tough choice for the politicians.
Last but not least, the new organization of public television. Its audience is going down as more and more TNT channels are in competition with the old broadcasters. The audiovisual authority, the CSA is powerless towards the increasing development of video on the Web. Can it regulate international giants such as Apple and Google?

Of course the media are not a priority for the new president but they are the stuff of the life of the citizens and time is running short.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Local news in the age of Internet

In the Saturday 14 issue of the Guardian there is an interesting assessments of the crisis of regional newspapers in the UK. During the last 10 years, 200 publications have folded. At the same time, advertising income has gone down by 50%. Classified ads have moved to the Web and the readership has followed. Prestigious dailies such as the Yorkshire Post or the Scotsman have lost more than half of their circulation. The Yorkshire Post which sold 120000 copies, 20 years ago, sells to day 40000.
In France, the situation is hardly better. The circulation of regional dailies has been going down by 2% a year for the last 20 years. Classified ads have deserted the print support and commercial advertising is not much better.

The big question in both countries and also in the US is:who is interested now by local news? It seems that young people are less motivated than their elders by local events. Even newspapers websites are consulted mostly by internauts above 40. Moreover people can get specific pieces of news on sports or entertainment through Google and dedicated sites. When the print was dominating, readers had no choice but getting their daily to be informed. Now, competition on the Web is boundless. Communities used to be built around the all powefull newspaper. Now, communities grow through the social networks.

It is obvious that the regional newspapers must drastically change their strategy without losing an aged but loyal readership. It means beeing active on Facebook and present on football websites and going on with the print business which brings 90% of their income. A tough job.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Is there a new television?

Contrary to some doomsayers, television is not out and replaced by Internet. In France and in most developed countries, the time spent on television is growing every year with the addition of hundreds of new channels. Of course, most of the broadcast is rubbish but never mind, there are always some people, young or old willing to watch.

What is dramatically changing is the television market. The share of audience from the old broadcasters such as TF1, FRance 2 and 3 and M6 is going down as the TNT channels are taking over more than 25% of the audience.

Still the real battle of the future is about contents. People like sports and fiction and both are hotly disputed. You see Qatar buying foot ball rights at exhorbitants prices to boost its new sports channel. We are also going to see Google and Apple fighting for the best American series to display on their Internet connected televisions. Here Internet is coming back with a vengeance.

At the same time old newspapers are investing in video news that will provide audience on their exhausted websites and compete with information channels;

In 10 years, television will be all over the place but its organization will sharply differ from to day. There will be new actors with very deep pockets. TF1 and CBS, beware.