Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The crisis of regional newspapers

The Marseille daily La Provence is about to let go 60 employees and raise by 10cents its price to prevent new losses. With a circulation of 110000 copies the newspaper is threatened to become irrelevant in Marseille conurbation whose population is up to 1 million people.

Its neighbour Nice Matin is not in a better shape. Its advertising and circulation are in free fall and it can ill afford to pay its furnishers and its social security fees. Its new owner, the employees association has no income and is desperately looking for investors.

Further North, the Bordeaux daily Sud Ouest has reached a precarious balance for 2014 but can hardly expect to pay back its heavy banking loans and advertising and circulation keep going down.

The other regional press groups have to face the same challenge of advertising and classified ads going down by 7% per year. They all raise their price which has a negative influence on sales. Why would people pay more and more for publications that provide less and less fresh news?

An expert on French press told me recently that within 10 years, only two press groups would survive, one of them beeing probably the Belgian Rossel who is interested in La Provence, Nice Matin and Sud Ouest.

And yet, people are always intrested by local news and services but there are many providers moving to fill the gap. The most notorious is Google which strikes deals with local business in many big cities, including Marseille to help them to promote themselves. Solocal, ex Pages Jaunes is following the same pattern and Facebook which is more and more interested in news will go the same way. Local pure players will have no choice but to deal with these powerful and wealthy giants.

Its obvious the regional landscape is going to change dramatically before 2025.