French regional newspapers face their worst crisis in 50 years. Nobody knows in what shape they will finish a long year 2013.
It is a matter of both money and ownership. As far as money is concerned, the advertsing income is down by 10% from a 2012 year which was rather bad. Classified ads are vanishing, moving to Le Bon Coin or other dynamic pure players. The circulation is down by 2 or 3% but 2012 was not so bad thanks to the presidential and parliament elections.
The ownership problem is even more serious. Most of the owners are broke or not willing to invest. In the South, the divorce between Tapie and Hersant won't carry any proper solution. Tapie will not be able to invest in la Provence which badly needs a fresh amount of cash. He will probably be forced to sell. Same thing with Nice Matin and Hersant. The sale of the Riviera newspaper is bound to happen very soon. Some Monaco investors are interested.
Group Sud Ouest is also in trouble. The family owners cannot afford to pay back 70 millions of loans and finance a 150 employees buying out. They are starved of cash and looking for a benevolent investor. This fall, tough decisions will be taken.
Even Michel Lucas, the banker and owner of the eastern newspapers seems reluctant to invest more. His huge press group hardly breaks even.
Most dailies keep investing in a digital offer but the profits are scarce and don't make for, by far, the loss in advertising and circulation.