Friday, September 14, 2012

Group Hersant and Presstalis

The saga of group Hersant is closing to an unhappy end. On september 30, the mediator will submit a proposal which could be either a  global buying out to another media group or a sale of the various titles to various buyers. Rossel could be a candidate for a global acquisition or for taking over the eastern dailies. Michel Lucas, the powerful boss of EBRA group could be interested by the Southern dailies Provence and Nice Matin. What is sure is that this painful story will end with several hundred jobs lost. It is obvious that the unions made the wrong gamble when they believed that, thanks to the new socialist government the bitter pill would be softened.

It is a bit the same story with Presstalis. This week, proposals emerged that will change drastically the whole system of press delivery. MLP will be obliged to contribute and a part of the activity will be sublet to Geodis, a branch of SNCF. In spite of the strong complaints and strikes of the Unions, Presstalis is going to slowly disappear at a very high cost. The regional newspapers will also suffer as a great part of the subsidies they get for home delivery will be transfered to financing the heavy social bill of Presstalis.

A quick conclusion: the news industry has a bright future, the print industry must manage its decline. The French way of managing the press is dead.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Guardian believes in tablets

In to day's issue of the Guardian, the newspaper presents the new wave of tablets proposed by Apple and Amazon. They are smaller,cheaper, at about 150 euros and should sell massively to a new public.

It could be an opportunity for the print press . As the article suggests, the users of Kindle are already familiar of reading on tablets. It should be easier to sell them newspapers applications. Yes but at what price? It is still obvious that the customers are highly reluctant to pay. The popularity of e-books in the US and the UK has proved that people can buy books on the Web. Will they go as far as spending money for dailies? The failure of Murdoch's Daily is an ominous sign of the poor state of the market. A Nielsen report shows that last January in the US, one third of I phone and I pad owners downloaded a news application but only 3%  were paid apps.

So the press executives face the same quandary: how to finance editorial teams to satisfy an appetite for news which is huge. In his last Monday Note, Frederic Filloux states that newspapers should not hesitate to rise prices to finance digital developments. It is certainly a part of the solution. Tablets are also a promising device but a financial balance for the press is still far away and advertising is not much attracted by the split audiences of news websites. It is easy, then, to understand why The American dailies are developing video on their sites. There is no better way, right now, to catch advertisers.