Thursday, June 28, 2012

Group Rossel last stand

The Belgian group Rossel delivered yesterday a press release stating that it pulled out of an endless negociation for buying Group Hersant Media, GHM.It is the result of the negative votes of CGT Union people who refused the reorganization and loss of 220 jobs in the Eastern newspapers of GHM.

Is it the end of the story? Not at all. The union thought wrongly that the socialist government would pour tens of millions of euros to save their jobs. They had a nasty surprise when they realized that the staff of the Industry minister was made of the same civil servants they had met at CIRI, the Finance ministry department in charge of failing corporations. They understood too late that the socialists are not more wealthy and generous than Sarkozy people;
And yet, Hersant has to find a solution to pay back to its 17 bankers its 215 millions of debt. No hope that anybody will pay for him. Rossel is waiting very quietly for the unions to face the tough reality and the banks to agree for a partial loss in hope of saving the remaining part of the huge Hersant debt.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What happens to the media

The turmoil in the media world raises many questions and few answers. Yes Internet is delivering a massive offer of news but opinion polls during the last French elections showed that the public trusted mostly television to be informed. In fact in Europe and in the US people are spending more and more time watching TV, 3hrs30 mn for the French viewers and thetelevision websites are very successful.

Yes the daily press is in bad shape everywhere. In Australia, both Fairfax and News Corp groups are firing hundreds of employees and journalists and starting paying walls. However, the public keeps a strong interest in daily news, whatever their origin, all news television, websites, applications on smartphones and tablets.

The main question remains how to satisfy this apetite for informations which increases every year for every genberation. The answer is money. Quality news are costly. This is why the experience of paying walls needs to be watched very carefully as it is more and more obvious that advertising is lagging behind because of fractured audiences.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A time of crisis

Yesterday, the unions of groupe Hersant Media staged a demonstration in front of the ministry of Labour and of the Regional Newspapers organization. As I have mentionned in previous blogs, the ailing group should cut 600 jobs in the eastern and southern dailies before a sale to the Belgian group Rossel. At the same moment, Elysee and Matignon are working on a solution for Presstalis that could cost about the same number of jobs. It appears then that the crisis of the press industry will be as lethal as any other social dossier facing Jean Marc Ayrault government.

What are the solutions? First, the government should put in charge a social mediator who would try to help the press organizations to reach a settlement with the unions.

Then , the French press owners, dailies and magazines, should build up a more agressive digital strategy. They just need to look across the borders and watch what Springer or Schibsted are doing. These powerful media groups draw a growing profit from their Internet investments, some of them in France. We certainly could do the same and start right now.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The story of the Times Picayune

The Times Picayune, the prestigious daily of New Orleans has existed for 130 years and is a must reading, every morning for the people of the big city. And yet, its management has announced that it was giving up its daily print edition. It will be published only three times a week and rely upon its Website for daily news.

This decision has provoked an uproar among the political and cultural establishment of the Southern city but it won't be revoked. The newspaper is losing money and it is very likely that its exemple will be followed by many others in the US and in Europe.

It is more and more obvious that the newspapers will have to figure out new formulas to survive. The best solution,for the moment, is to combine a bi or threeweekly publication with a paying wall providing instant news. This is bad news for Presstalis,the French delivery organization which is losing the sales of dailies and magazines.