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Cablegate: Daily Newspapers: First in a Series On the French Media

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
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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.

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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

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