Monday, August 20, 2012

Group Hersant Media the end?

Hersant family is going to face its biggest challenge and the group survival seems highly doubtful. Last week the union Filpac CGT published on its website a well documented statement reminding the government that Philippe Hersant, the Group chairman had invested his money in profitable newspapers i n Switzerland while his French publications were on the brink of bankrupcy.
The court has nominated an expert who should try to negociate, before September 30 an agreement with the banks. Group Hersant owes 200 millions euros to its 17 bank creditors. Needless to say the bankers will never see their money back and nobody can oblige Philippe Hersant to use his Swiss assets worth about 100 millions as collateral.

So, the most likely outlook is the sale before the end of the year of the various Hersant newspapers, Union, Ardennais, Provence, Nice Matin and some more. Who is going to buy is anybody's guess. It seems that Rossel is still interested by some dailies and Michel Lucas, the powerful boss of EBRA could try to get La Provence which would be a nice complement to his South East daily le Dauphiné. It is the dramatic end of a long story.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

From print to television

The New York Times Company announced this morning that it would get this fall a new president, i e a new boss. The choice made by the chairman and the board came as a big surprise. The nominee is Mark Thompson, the retiring dierctor general of the BBC, a British and a former journalist who made all his career in television.

Sulzberger, the NYT chairman stated that it was time for the famous newspaper to enter fully in the digital age and Thompson was very successful in developing the BBC website and applications which were boosted by the Olympic Games. Still, it is a gamble to put in charge of the grey lady a man who is a total stranger to the print industry.

And yet, the NYT has been quite successful with its digital development. It can boast with 500 000 paying subscribers to its digital service, a result that few newspapers in the world can make for. However, there is a trend with the main American dailies to use more and more video and build up a new sort of television channel  supported by the Web. The big plus is that it allows the display of TV ads which are much more profitable than the traditional banners. The task of Mark Thompson is huge indeed.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

What happens to the Washington Post

The quarterly results of the Washington Post show clearly the painful situation of a prestigious daily in the Internet era. 
The revenue of the group is 1 billion$ and it's income is still positive at 52 millions. However, the flagship newspaper registers a staggering fall of 9% of its circulation. The ad revenue is down by 9 millions while the Internet revenue is only up by 2 millions. 

Interestingly, what makes the group slightly profitable is not Internet, nor it's ailing education branch Kaplan but television. Broadcast and cable TV turn out an income of 81 millions that makes for the losses of the daily and Kaplan. 

This outcome should not be a surprise. Contrary to what the Internet nerds believe, television is still a very profitable business with good audience, whether in America or in Europe. The threat for the broadcasters comes from the attempts of Google and Apple to build up television services easily availables on increasingly popular tablets. A tough challenge for the WP group.