Is the French press oversubsidized? No if you listen to the various press organizations who insist on the sorry state of most newspapers and magazines who suffer from both a loss of sales and of advertising and face a very difficult year 2013. Yes if you listen to the annual report of Cour des Comptes or if you read the parliamentary report of Mr Françaix, MP.
The real problem lies with the French budget which is harder than ever to balance. It seems obvious that the government cannot afford anymore to spend 1,2 billions euros for helping a fledging industry which is not so well treated in other European countries.
What Cour des Comptes and Françaix suggest is that it is not logical to subsidize at the same time the Post Office and the home delivery system. If newspapers and weeklies transfer the delivery from a costly and less efficient postal service to their own home services, there is no reason to keep a 300 million euros help to the Post.
Another matter is the fact that many magazines devoted to TV programs or people news profit from a benevolent and generous French system. Françaix considers that only publications dealing with news i e dailies and newsmagazines contribute to a democratic debate and should deserve a public support.
The government has set up a commission to work on the reform of public aid. By the end of April, it will have to state a position on postal service and magazines, two very tricky topics. The various lobbies are very active and president Hollande will have to face very unpleasant choices.