Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Newspaper Subscriptions for Every 18 Year Old: The French to Increase Aid to Print Media

Tonight the executive of the Electronic Rights Defence Committee will meet to take stock of where its long-running class action against The Gazette and various other media interests is going. Nearly a year ago Madame Justice Eva Petras heard our request for authorization to proceed to the next step in the case which demands payment for electronic reproduction of freelance work. We have no news on that front, but we've gathered some interesting information about other cases and settlements.

The meeting comes just as the French government is proposing massive aid to newspapers in that country. I was astonished to discover that newspapers there already get 1.5 billion euros. The new aid package would put into the pot another 200 million euros a year for three years, which raises the spectre of more government control of media, but which also could save some very shaky print operations.

This kind of aid is so foreign to North American custom (governments aid newspapers here mainly by buying advertising, sometimes for campaigns that seem to make little sense) that it probably doesn’t merit consideration as a solution to print media problems.

But one thing proposed is interesting: a plan to give an 18th birthday present of a year’s subscription to the newspaper of his or her choice to all French young people. I don’t know quite how that might work here, but the idea of getting young people in the habit of reading print papers is worth thinking about.

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