Dear Secretary General,
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
First of all, a warm thank you for the invitation to speak to you today. The Independent Online Press Union is a young, dynamic and often incisive actor in this sector.
I know that SPIIL places its independence of mind, of tone, of proposal in the first place. At the forefront of both the journalistic work of his titles and his reflections as a professional structure. This independence is precious even if it is, of course, not always comfortable for me or for the Government. I think that’s the right way to look at the role of everyone. So I know it’s going to be very stimulating, and I wanted to thank you in advance.
The French press is almost four centuries old. Since then, it has continued to diversify and reinvent itself. But it is clear that, with digital technology, the sector has entered an unprecedented acceleration phase in recent years. And we see this with the development of mobility and the data economy: this transformation is far from over.
That is why we must collectively have an obsession: the obsession of the future.
This obsession with the future has already guided us in reforming our public policies to support the press. A framework for reforming press aid was set in 2012, with the election of François Hollande. In line with the commitments of the President of the Republic, several changes have taken place since 2012 in our support tools.
In support of the online press, our main lever, as you know, is the Strategic Press Development Fund. We wanted to consolidate and redirect this tool towards innovation. Thus, the Government has made a clear budgetary choice, which must be remembered, to maintain the financial level of the Fund, in a period that is certainly difficult for the press sector but also extremely tense for public finances.
With the reform in June 2014, the Strategic Fund was also refocused on innovation and pooling. Innovation thus becomes the priority criterion for access to aid and the criterion for obtaining more generous public aid. We have also opened up the Fund so that old press families and young press families – including yours – can share and judge together the relevance of investment projects.
This way of looking at everyone’s projects is, for me, a guarantee of quality and excellence.
We have established a club of innovators in the strategic fund. It is a forum for useful reflection on the future of the press and I am confident in its ability to make proposals to us soon, because the challenges facing the sector are not lacking.
I am thinking in particular of the essential question of the monetization of online and mobile content. The press must be at the rendezvous of the practices of the French: while the parenthesis of «all free online», the press must not miss the boat! That each media values its content is good, but it is probably not enough in light of new uses. The reader is too often discouraged by the compartmentalization and the complexity that results. I believe it is the collective responsibility of the sector to allow the development of cross-cutting offerings, typically for small recurring payments. Everyone in this field should respect a form of right to experiment. This applies both to the historical actors of the print press, to whom I had the opportunity to say it recently, but also to the new actors of the online press.
As part of the aid reform, another support tool that we wanted to mobilize to support investment, especially from the online press, is the IFCIC, the Institute for Financing Cinema and Cultural Industries. It is an essential tool because our ultimate goal must be the viability and economic autonomy of the press sector. If it is legitimate that this sector still receives specific aid today, our aim must remain convergence with the systems of common law aid to enterprises.
Since the beginning of the year, IFCIC has been providing repayable advances as well as a bank guarantee for the creation of on-line press titles.
I wanted to let you know that, in connection with my department, the IFCIC will grant, as of December 2014, the same support – repayable advances, bank guarantees – to the takeover of press sites pure players. In accordance with European rules, IFCIC’s support remains reserved for small and medium-sized enterprises: it will therefore also contribute to strengthening the online press ecosystem.
In addition to investment aid and banking support, strengthening support for innovation also involves taxation. VAT increased to 2.1% on your securities at 1er last February, as you rightly asked with all the press families. This decision is, as you know, being challenged by the European Commission; I will continue to discuss with our European partners, with the new Commission, to make the argument of logic and law, which is also the argument of innovation, prevail. I want to say it again: fiscal neutrality between all media of cultural goods (for the press, for books and beyond) is an ardent obligation and an urgent necessity. Taxation cannot, must not, hinder the shift towards digital technology, it must not steer companies' strategic choices against their future.
Beyond this very useful and valuable work of reforming media support mechanisms, our obsession with the future must also lead us, collectively, to a better apprehension of the face of the press at 21th century.
Public debate certainly needs headlines. But not only. It is also necessary and perhaps above all to know how to explore new continents. What the democracy of the 21stth In short, you will pass on to me the expression of the greatest possible biodiversity of the information landscape.
It is in this spirit that MP Michel Françaix, whose persevering and vigilant commitment to the press, has presented a bill that will create the status of citizen press information company. This law will be examined in December in the National Assembly and then quickly in the Senate. Corporate citizens will be stronger because they will reinvest their profits in their business. For my part, I hope that tax incentives can be created for this form of press enterprise, if not in this finance law at least quickly.
Very prosaically, we will also have to address the delicate issue of the definition of the so-called “political and general press”. But I do not want to deflect the subject today: the work coordinated by the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Publications and News Agencies, Mr. Jean-François MARY, on this subject, to which you have contributed, is still too fresh.
Finally, I wanted to announce that I will entrust to Jean-Marie Charon, whom you know well, the task of drawing up a panorama of the new landscape of the press: what are the new jobs of the press? His new writings? His new entrepreneurs? The new work organizations? Etc. In short, this overview will present the “new frontiers” of journalism and information. The difficulties facing the print media must not make us forget our country’s tremendous vivacity and great editorial and entrepreneurial inventiveness. We have to say it! And look to the future to think about the present.
On this subject, I know, ladies and gentlemen, that I can count on your contribution, your openness, your initiative.
I want to thank you again.