Mr President of the Autorité, dear Roch-Olivier MAISTRE, Ladies and Gentlemen Presidents, Ladies and Gentlemen, 2012 will be a decisive year for the French press. It is no longer time for transition or adjustments designed simply to delay the inevitable evolution of the business. Publishers will have to make economic and industrial choices. The State will accompany and support the press in many areas, and in particular in distribution, which, I remind you, is responsible for more than 80% of all direct aid to the press.

Despite the recent development of new modes of digital distribution, or the diversification begun by certain groups, paper remains the driving force behind the exploitation of the written press. It remains an essential medium for disseminating ideas and opinions to each of our fellow citizens.

As you know, I wanted to maintain in 2012 a budget of intervention in favor of the press at a historically high level, more than 60% higher than the envelope we devoted to it in 2008,
before the States General of the written press. The preservation of this endowment speaks for itself and demonstrates the importance that public authorities attach to the vitality of a diverse and diverse press.
This maintenance is justified by the needs of the sector, which we feel is beginning to suffer the repercussions of the financial crisis of summer 2011, particularly in the area of advertising investments.

What we are seeing, in the digital field or the distribution field that brings us together today, is the logical acceleration of a phenomenon that we have been facing realistically, and the energy of the entire profession, for three years. The commitment of the State and the efforts of the profession have made it possible to cushion the shock of the 2008 crisis and to put in place the structures favorable to the emergence of new models: with the reform of messaging and the encouragement of the development of new distribution channels such as porting; in the industrial field of printing, or in those of digital development, the upgrading of journalists' practices and professional training.

Despite the recent development of new modes of digital distribution, or the diversification begun by certain groups, paper remains the driving force behind the exploitation of the written press. It remains an essential medium for disseminating ideas and opinions to each of our fellow citizens.
As you know, I wanted to maintain in 2012 a budget of intervention in favor of the press at a historically high level, more than 60% higher than the envelope that we devoted to it in 2008, before the States General of the written press. The preservation of this endowment speaks for itself and demonstrates the importance that public authorities attach to the vitality of a diverse and diverse press.
This maintenance is justified by the needs of the sector, which we feel is beginning to suffer the repercussions of the financial crisis of summer 2011, particularly in the area of advertising investments.
What we are seeing, in the digital field or the distribution field that brings us together today, is the logical acceleration of a phenomenon that we have been facing realistically, and the energy of the entire profession, for three years. The commitment of the State and the efforts of the profession have made it possible to cushion the shock of the 2008 crisis and to put in place the structures favorable to the emergence of new models: with the reform of messaging and the encouragement of the development of new distribution channels such as porting; in the industrial field of printing, or in those of digital development, the upgrading of journalists' practices and professional training.
In this context, professional governance and distribution regulatory bodies play a key role in a distribution system whose “French-style” particularities are not lost on anyone.

The strengthening of these bodies is timely and I am pleased to install today with you the Regulatory Authority of the Distribution of the Press, pillar of the new device with the Superior Council of Messengers of the Press (CSMP), whose mission will be not only to settle disputes and facilitate the pace of reforms desired by the profession by making the decisions of the Superior Council enforceable.
The two institutions will have the delicate task of charting a course between the continuation and completion of the necessary and sometimes delayed reforms and the defence of the fundamental principles of a system that guarantees in France, perhaps more than elsewhere, pluralism and diversity of opinion . The principles of solidarity between press families, the pooling of means, neutrality of treatment, and the guarantee of equitable access to the entire network are for some of them weakened under the pressure of difficulties aggravated by an unfavourable economic situation. However, let us not forget that they have created the richness and diversity of the French press landscape. Press companies have some collective duties towards a system that is unique in Europe and which has significantly contributed to their growth for many years.
The crisis has revealed the fragility of the system, and while it is clear that the sector needs to be scaled up and its economic balances strengthened, it would be particularly counterproductive to imagine being able to do so outside the remaining founding principles, despite the tensions, principles of the future. The legitimate search for short-term benefits should not be the pretext for the explosion of the industry. More than ever, publishers must be able to pool their industrial resources and focus on the core of their business: producing quality information.
I am therefore particularly vigilant to anything that can both weaken or reinforce this industrial logic, to which the State devotes so much effort.  That is why I am particularly proud and honoured to receive you today, some nine months after having announced the need to review the distribution regulation system and my wish to establish a new independent authority - a record amount of time, considering that this revision must inevitably involve the reform of one of the founding laws of the post-war period, which is one of the ones we approach with “trembling” as Speaker Legendre pointed out when he presented his Bichet Law reform bill to the Senate last May.
The speed with which this reform has been implemented, and the unanimity with which it has been accepted, demonstrate the validity of an approach which has been able to articulate the urgent need with respect to the balances essential to respect the interests of each of the actors, publishers, broadcasters, couriers and depositories.
This reform that creates the new Regulatory Authority will reshape in depth our way of considering the evolution of a distribution sector that had not experienced major upheaval in the last sixty years, and must adapt to new market conditions.
This profound transformation in the distribution of the press must be accompanied, encouraged and directed: this is the role assigned to the Superior Council of Press Messengers. It has fulfilled its mission fully over the past three years. In order to strengthen the regulation of the sector around the Council, we wanted to facilitate its adaptation to new market issues and decided to add a new independent regulatory authority, the Press Distribution Authority.
In particular, it will create a new framework for resolving disputes between professionals. In view of the many debates that agitate the profession, each one measures how valuable this new authority will be.
As for the other fundamental structural developments since the end of the States General, the reform of the governance and regulation of the distribution of the press has followed intermediate steps that have allowed to make a shared diagnosis and present solutions adapted to the challenges.
The modernization of the distribution of the press sold at the issue and its essential regulation were one of the major projects of the Estates General of the print press. By closing them in January 2009, the President of the Republic spoke in favour of an ambitious reform of the regulatory body. The latter was to be reflected in the revision of its composition, its competences and the strengthening of its independence. He then asked the President of the Autorité de la Concurrence to submit proposals in this regard.
In his report, Bruno Lasserre recommended the creation of an independent administrative authority in the form of a close-knit college of five members, the only suitable framework in which it believes it can exercise both an effective sectoral regulation mission and a dispute settlement mission that is not questionable.
In the scheme advocated by Bruno Lasserre, the members of the college had no link with the interests of the sector. Professionals had to intervene only in statutory advisory committees and working groups to prepare the decisions of the collegiate body.
The choice of an independent administrative authority clearly reflected an anchoring of regulation in the public sphere, independent of both the State and the actors and companies concerned by regulation.
This choice represents a real innovation for the press distribution sector. On the horizon, we find a regulatory mode that is that of sectors as different as the audiovisual sector through the CSA, telecommunications and postal services through ARCEP, energy through the CRE, and financial markets through the AMF.
However, the profession as a whole has expressed its reluctance to adopt this regulatory approach. It felt that it could destabilize an already fragile sector. She saw it as a brake on the implementation of the important reforms initiated by the profession under the aegis of the Conseil supérieur des messageries de presse following the États généraux de la presse écrite.
According to the profession, the regulation of the sector by an independent administrative authority in which the decision-making power and expertise would escape the publishers was not the best response to the developments, which it considered essential, the cooperative press distribution system and its network.
Under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture and Communication, consultations continued between publishers and the Conseil supérieur des messageries de presse to define a middle way, a balanced position, a position that takes into account both the recommendations of the Green Paper of the États généraux de la presse écrite, and the recommendations of Mr. Bruno Lasserre’s report.
It was in keeping with this median path of regulation of the sector - the wisest and most respectful of the balances that have been at the origin of the development of the press in the last sixty years - that the Authority was created.
It closely involves a professional body and an independent administrative authority, while giving a precise definition of the tasks and competences of each.
It intends to respond to the profession’s desire to retain its essential expertise in regulating press distribution. It also intends to respond to the need for objective review of the decisions of the professional body and arbitration of disputes by an independent authority.
I attach particular importance to this initiative aimed at improving the regulation of the press distribution system. Through a more effective regulation of number-selling, we will be able to lay the foundations for adapting the distribution chain to the challenges of the digital society and real-time information. In this period of questioning of the balances that have governed the sector for so many decades, all press professionals, from messengers to distributors to depositories, need a solid reference tool to rely on.
This was the thrust of the July 20, 2011 reform introduced and adopted by the Senate at first reading on May 6, 2011.
The creation of the Autorité de Régulation de Distribution de la Presse, which brings together Sylvie Hubac, Gérard Pluyette and Roch-Olivier Maistre who will chair it, is a considerable step forward that was able to feed on this dynamic of consensus. It spares the great democratic legacies of the Liberation; it greatly facilitates economic development around a dynamic regulation, inseparable from new ambitions for the distribution of the press, this essential tool for debate and democracy in our country.
I thank the members of the new Authority for taking up this exciting challenge.