Monday, July 30, 2012

Presstalis again

As foreseen the drama of Presstalis is unfolding driving to disaster the French delivery system. Last week a strike bloked the distribution of national newspapers in Paris. It is just a beginning. 
A brief reminder of past events. 4years ago at the strategic committee of ETATS Generaux de la Presse we were a few to insist on the sorry state of Presstalis and the necessity to reorganize the ailing company. However, a powerful lobby including LE Figaro and Lagardere magazines stopped any attempt of reform. 4 months ago I sent a note to Hollande campaign staff to warn them about an impending disaster. There were no reactions. 

The figures are quite simple. 1000 workers out of 2500 will have to be laid down as the press traffic is going down by 5% per year. The cost will amount to 300 millions euros and nobody is willing or able to pay. Every six months, the government puts in charge a new top civil servant to find a way out. After six months the highly competent gentleman drops off and is swiftly replaced.  The quandary remains and the strikers get desperate and ready for a long term conflict that will ruin the remaining national dailies. 
The solution is obvious. The press delivery must be taken over by one of the main logistics firms working in France, in partnership with the regional newspapers. It needs a bit of can and a lot of courage. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Guardian and the Times what future

This week end, important news were published on the British press. First it was announced the losses of the Guardian last year. 40 million £ and the necessity to cut the staff by 100 people. Then the stunning results of the Guardian-Observer Web site: 30million UV last May, the number 3 of information sites in the world. A good thing but not enough by far to balance the accounts of the ailing newspaper. Then the Murdoch saga. Rupert is discretely pulling out of his London assets. For the first time in 40 years he is not member of any of his British publications board. This new situation makes it more and more likely that the British press group is on sale. Yes, fine, the bad guy is punished for the hacking and corruption scandal. But who is going to buy. The prestigious Times is losing 60 million £ per year. The Sun is not as popular as it used to be and the News of the World has disappeared. A bit of comfort for the French internaut who watches the decline of the French press.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Is there a life after Presstalis?

The staff of Aurelie Filippetti, the French minister of Culture is desperately trying to find a solution for Presstalis. The bill could go up to 300 millions euros and the government is broke. Newspapers and magazines suffer from both a loss of sales and a fall of advertising. They are not in a mood or in capacity to foot the bill.
The regional newspapers seem willing to take incharge the delivery of the national dailies. To distribute 400 millions copies a year would cost 80 millions, i e 20 c. per copy, A rate that makes this regional network highly competitive with Presstalis. However, there is a condition: no links whatsoever with this unionized and inefficient organization.

Le Monde could be very interested if, and its a big if, it moves into a morning newspaper. According to recent agreements with 5 regional dailies, it could get ,as early as this fall, 125000 copies printed out of Paris, in East, West and South of France. The logical outlet would be to get them distributed by the same newspapers. A major upheaval and a very useful money saving device for the ailing daily.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The fate of group Hersant

Listen to the stunning silence of the minister of Industry, Arnaud Montebourg. Hundreds of jobs are going to disappear at GHM and Presstalis but nobody moves apart from Laurent Fabius who tries to convince Pierre Bergé to invest 3 millions euros to save the dying Paris Normandie and its 350 jobs.
Still, it seems that Group Rossel and its dynamic boss Bernard Marchant are ready to take back the ailing newspapers from East and South but on their own conditions. The gamble of the union Filpac CGT was in fact a kind of suicide. Why should they agree to a not very good deal while their refusal provides an even less attractive solution? Why should they refuse a loss of 350 jobs while the court will allow the bankrupt press group to suppress 5 or 600 jobs.? I doubt the Union will recover from such a tremendous failure.

The other losers will be the 17 banks. They loaned 215 millions euros. They will recover only a tiny part of it. Another good reason for the financial system to keep away from any press business. Endebted groups like Sud Ouest should be very careful.

People say that Vincent Bolloré is still readay to invest in the media through Vivendi. The man is lucky. Nobody will stop him because nobody cares. The job is cut for him.