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Viewing cable 06PARIS7251, DAILY NEWSPAPERS: FIRST IN A SERIES ON THE FRENCH MEDIA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06PARIS7251 2006-11-06 16:04 2010-12-15 12:12 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Paris
VZCZCXRO0970
RR RUEHIK RUEHYG
DE RUEHFR #7251/01 3101640
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 061640Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2900
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEHMRE/AMCONSUL MARSEILLE 1425
RUEHSR/AMCONSUL STRASBOURG 0239
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 PARIS 007251 

SIPDIS 

SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 

DEPT FOR EUR/PPD, EUR/WE, INR, R 

E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL KPAO OPRC FR
SUBJECT: DAILY NEWSPAPERS: FIRST IN A SERIES ON THE FRENCH MEDIA 

PARIS 00007251 001.2 OF 004 


Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly. 

------- 
SUMMARY 
------- 

1. (SBU) Embassy Paris has been reviewing and recalibrating its 
media strategy for the 2006-2007 to determine the appropriate 
attention to keep on traditional print media while pivoting to 
expand our efforts with radio and TV media, as well as with the new 
Internet media. This analysis of French daily print press is the 
first in a series of cables analyzing the particularities of the 
French media environment. Future cables will examine France's 
influential news weeklies, its broadcast media, and the dynamic 
French blogo-sphere. 

2. (U) Today's French daily print press scene is characterized by 
illustrious national mastheads (Le Monde, Le Figaro, Liberation) 
losing money and readership as they are challenged by increasingly 
credible upstarts. There also remains a powerful regional print 
press network, mostly controlled by old newspaper families. Embassy 
Paris maintains its own contacts with the regional press -- whose 
leadership gathers in Paris at least quarterly -- but we coordinate 
most of our regional outreach efforts through the two Consulates and 
five American Presence Posts. 

3. (U) Lively and competitive print media still exercise significant 
influence on French public opinion, despite a lasting and serious 
crisis affecting the traditional daily newspapers. Twenty-seven 
national dailies of general interest were available in France before 
World War II; only six are still available today. Some still exist 
thanks only to financial help from the French state, others because 
of private investment. Since 2004 there has been growing French 
interest in free daily publications such as "20 Minutes" and "Metro" 
(in the morning) and, more recently, "Direct Soir" (in the evening). 
Seventy-five percent of the French people reading one of these free 
newspapers do not and would not buy and read any other daily 
publication. 

4. (U) In terms of reach, radio and television are the main French 
sources of news. The French spend an average of 3 hours 40 minutes 
per day watching television (versus only 35 minutes spent reading 
the press). Nevertheless, there are 75 daily titles across France 
(national and regional), served by 5,000 journalists, and read by 
more than 18 million readers. End Summary. 

----------------------------- 
LE MONDE, CIRCULATION 372,310 
----------------------------- 

5. (U) France's newspaper of record, Le Monde is considered one of 
the great papers in Europe. Influential in government, business and 
intellectual circles, the editorial line is left-of-center. 
Although Le Monde has traditionally been critical of the United 
States, the paper adopted a more balanced approach on 9/11 when 
director Jean-Marie Colombani wrote the famous front-page headline 
"We Are All Americans." Despite Le Monde's critical assessment of 
American foreign policy since the beginning of the war in Iraq, it 
has been more moderate since the departure of controversial deputy 
director Edwy Plenel in December 2004. 

6. (U) The brainchild of General Charles de Gaulle, who wanted to 
give France a daily newspaper during the war, Le Monde was founded 
in December 1944 by Hubert Beuve-Mery. The paper's current CEO is 
Jean-Marie Colombani, with the paper owned by the joint-stock 
company La Vie-Le Monde. La Vie-Le Monde publishes 43 press titles, 
including magazines such as: Courrier International, Telerama, 
Notre Histoire, Top Famille Magazine, and La Vie. 

7. (U) As most French dailies, Le Monde suffers from a decline in 
readership and advertising revenue. The paper launched a new 
formula on November 7, 2005, which divided it into three sections, 
gave images more importance, and attempted to develop a certain 
intimacy with the reader. 

8. (SBU) In addition to Colombani's occasional in-depth political 
analysis, the most influential editorialists and journalists are 
News Director Gerard Courtois, co-deputy news directors Patrick 
Jarreau, Franck Nouchi and Alain Frachon(also in charge of Le Monde 
2), international relations director Daniel Vernet, Sylvain Cypel 
(in charge of Focus), and Nathalie Nougayrede (foreign 
correspondent). U.S.-based correspondents are Corine Lesnes 
(Washington), and Eric Leser (New York). 

9. (U) Le Monde group's other holdings include Le Monde de 
l'education, Le Monde des religions, Le Monde diplomatique and Le 
Monde 2. Le Monde 2, Le Monde's weekly supplement launched in 2002 
and published every Saturday, continues to have difficulties making 

PARIS 00007251 002.2 OF 004 


a name for itself among the other weekly publications. 

------------------------------ 
LE FIGARO, CIRCULATION 343,594 
------------------------------ 

10. (U) Le Figaro is France's oldest national daily. Founded in 
1826, Le Figaro has counted among its contributors writers such as 
Alexandre Dumas, Edmond and Jules Goncourt, Emile Zola (during the 
Dreyfus Affair), Tristan Bernard, Andre Maurois, Paul Claudel and 
Colette. Socpresse S.A. currently owns Le Figaro. The paper's 
editorial line is right-of-center and usually supportive of 
President Chirac's administration. 

11. (SBU) In addition to Le Figaro, Socpresse S.A. also owns 65 
percent of the news weekly publications Figaro Magazine, Madame 
Figaro, TV Magazine, Version Femina. The most influential 
editorialists and journalists are news director Nicolas Beytout, 
Alexandre Adler, Michel Schiffres, Alain-Gerard Slama, Pierre 
Rousselin, Luc de Barochez and international affairs correspondent 
Renaud Girard. The Washington correspondent is Philippe Gelie, and 
Guillaume Faure also frequently writes from DC or New York. 

------------------------------- 
LIBERATION, CIRCULATION 142,198 
------------------------------- 

12. (U) Liberation is moderately left-wing and pro-socialist. 
Jean-Paul Sartre founded Liberation in 1973. Despite having lower 
circulation than either Le Monde or Le Figaro, Liberation is the 
paper of reference in leftist intellectual circles. "Libe," as it 
is affectionately called, is facing a serious financial crisis due 
to a decline in readership. 

13. (U) Since 2004, the newspaper has been run by a joint stock 
company headed by Edouard de Rothschild, Liberation employees, the 
movie company Pathe, the British risk capital company 3i, and a 
number of additional long-term shareholders. Vittorio de Filippis 
is currently the acting publication director. 

14. (SBU) Liberation's most influential editorialists and 
journalists include Gerard Dupuy, Jean-Michel Thenard, and 
recently-arrived deputy news director and editorialist Pierre Haski. 
U.S.-based correspondents are Philippe Grangereau in Washington and 
Laurent Mauriac in New York. 

------------------------------ 
LES ECHOS, CIRCULATION 142,966 
------------------------------ 

15. (U) Focusing on economic and financial news, Les Echos has been 
in the Pearson Group's portfolio of international newspapers since 
1988. (Note: The Pearson Group also prints the Financial Times. 
End Note.) In addition to the daily, the Les Echos Groupe (Pearson 
Group's French subsidiary company) also publishes the monthly 
economic magazine Enjeux-Les Echos (circulation 142,487). In 1996, 
Les Echos was the first national daily to launch a Web site. 

------------------------------ 
LA TRIBUNE, CIRCULATION 92,535 
------------------------------ 

16. (U) La Tribune is owned by the Desfosse International group 
(D.I.), the media subsidiary of world leader of luxury products 
L.V.M.H. (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton). D.I. also owns Investir, Le 
Monde de la Musique, and Radio Classique. 

-------------------------------- 
LE PARISIEN, CIRCULATION 345,082 
-------------------------------- 

17. (U) Le Parisien/Aujourd'hui en France, a regional daily paper, 
was founded in 1944 by Emilien Amaury under the title Le Parisien 
Libere. His son changed the name in 1985 upon becoming the paper's 
director. He created the national Aujourd'hui en France 
(circulation 161,408). In addition to Le Parisien and Aujourd'hui 
en France, the Amaury family and the Hachette group also owns three 
popular sports publications: L'Equipe (circulation 357,731), France 
Football, and Velo magazine. 

18. (SBU) Under Editorial Director Christian Villaneuve, Le Parisien 
has self-consciously positioned itself as the "USA Today" of France. 
It publishes no editorials per se, nor does it normally accept 
op-ed contributions. The notable exception was Le Parisien's 
decision to publish President George Bush's January 2005 op-ed about 
U.S. tsunami assistance efforts. 

----------------------------- 

PARIS 00007251 003.2 OF 004 


LA CROIX, CIRCULATION 102,022 
----------------------------- 

19. (U) Catholic La Croix is part of the Bayard Press group that 
includes newspapers, magazines and books directed to an audience 
ranging from children to seniors. Bayard Press group claims 27 
percent of the children's press market share (the most popular 
titles include Popi, Pomme d'Api, as well as Les Belles Histoires de 
Pomme d'Api). They also have a wide range of teen press, including 
Okapi, Je Bouquine, Phosphore. 

20. (SBU) La Croix was founded in 1883 by the Augustines of the 
Assumption who still own the paper within the Bayard Press group. 
The most influential editorialists and journalists there are 
director and political analyst Dominique Quinio, political analyst 
Francois Ernenwein, foreign editor Jean-Christophe Ploquin, and 
international reporters Francois d'Alancon and Gilles Biassette. 

------------------------------ 
L'HUMANITE, CIRCULATION 54,083 
------------------------------ 

21. (SBU) The French communist party's national daily continues to 
command a loyal readership among its members, but with little 
influence beyond the party faithful. 

---------------------------- 
FREE PAPERS SNAGGING READERS 
---------------------------- 

22. (SBU) In recent years, two free daily newspapers, 20 Minutes 
(circulation 695,998) and Metro (circulation 519,028), have become 
serious challengers to the traditional press. 20 Minutes' news 
director is former U.S.-based Liberation correspondent Frederic 
Filloux. Metro's news director is Jennifer Galle. The papers 
publish little in the way of original reporting, deferring to the 
wire services for much of the substantive reportage. 

23. (U) In France, the free daily press represents a significant 36 
percent of the daily national newspaper market. Both 20 Minutes and 
Metro have editions in the regional capital cities Bordeaux, Lille, 
Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Strasbourg, as well as Toulouse. 

24. (U) Direct Soir is a third free publication, published in the 
evening in 15 French cities (circulation 500,000). Launched on June 
6, 2005, Direct Soir is owned by Vincent Bollore. 

------------------------------------------- 
REGIONAL DAILY PRESS -- WHERE THE ACTION IS 
------------------------------------------- 

25. (U) With more than 400 titles and a total circulation exceeding 
2.5 billion copies per year, the regional daily press includes some 
of the most-widely circulated dailies in France. Readership is 
slowly declining, however, as the traditional readership base ages. 

26. (U) Ouest-France, which covers most of western France, tops all 
French newspapers with a circulation of 781,803. Other influential 
regional titles include Le Progres (circulation 241,754) in the Lyon 
area, Sud-Ouest (circulation 323,542) in the Bordeaux area, La Voix 
du Nord (circulation 303,621) in the Lille area, La Nouvelle 
Republique du Centre-Ouest (circulation 232,709) in the Tours area, 
La Depeche du Midi (circulation 201,805) in the Toulouse area, La 
Montagne (circulation 207,202) in the Clermont-Ferrand area, Les 
Dernieres Nouvelles d'Alsace (circulation 193,994) in the Strasbourg 
area, La Provence (circulation 163,112) in the Marseille area, and 
Nice-Matin (circulation 125,182) in the Nice area. 

--------------------------------- 
OUEST-FRANCE, CIRCULATION 781,803 
--------------------------------- 

27. (U) Paul Hutin-Degrees launched Ouest-France on August 7, 1944, 
following Charles de Gaulle's call to revive the French free press. 
The paper has developed into the number one daily in France in terms 
of circulation and enjoys a solid reputation. Francois-Regis Hutin 
(son of the late founder) has managed the paper since 1965. 

28. (U) Headquartered in Rennes, Ouest-France has offices in several 
French departments reporting local news. The paper maintains 63 
local offices, 545 journalists, 2635 correspondents, and 42 
different daily editions in Bretagne, Pays-de-la-Loire and 
Basse-Normandie, as well as a significant presence in Paris, where 
ten journalists cover national and international events. The 
paper's foreign editor, Joseph Limagne, is based in Paris. 
Additionaly, Ouest-France holds 25 percent of the shares of the free 
daily newspaper 20 Minutes. 


PARIS 00007251 004.2 OF 004 


-------------------- 
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE 
-------------------- 

29. (U) Agence France-Presse (AFP) is the oldest of the world's 
three major wire services, founded in 1835 by banker Charles-Louis 
Havas. With more than 2,000 employees worldwide, including 1,100 
journalists and 150 photographers in 165 countries, AFP produces 
400,000 to 600,000 words, 1,000 photos and 50 news graphics per day. 
Its reporters work in French, English, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese 
and German. Within France, AFP has bureaus in seven regional 
capital cities, Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Rennes, 
Strasbourg, and Toulouse. In the U.S., AFP has bureaus in 
Washington DC, Los Angeles, New York, The United Nations (NY), 
Chicago, Miami, and San Francisco. 

--- 
IHT 
--- 

30. (U) Paris is home to a wide variety of international media as 
well, the best-known being The International Herald Tribune, which 
has a circulation of 24,858 in France. 
STAPLETON