FRANCE: VIVENDI ACCELERATES THE “TAKEOVER” OF LAGARDÈRE

Vincent Bolloré, patron of the Vivendi group, should retire in February 2022: it is assumed that accelerating the Opa on Lagardère tries to fix the company before leaving the helm to his children
Vincent Bolloré, patron of the Vivendi group, should retire in February 2022: it is assumed that accelerating the Opa on Lagardère tries to fix the company before leaving the helm to his children
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The conquest of the French media group by the Breton financier Vincent Bolloré is approaching its final stages. The Opa (the takeover bid aimed at shareholders to invite them to sell their shares to the company that would like to take control), initially scheduled for December 15, 2022, has been brought forward to February 2022. Vivendi will take control of Radio Europe 1, the RMF and Virgin Radio networks and the publishing houses Hachette and Editis. The Antitrust Authority and the CSA (Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel) have yet to pronounce on the acquisition. They could impose the sale of certain assets in the book sector, particularly in France, because with the acquisition of the two big names in publishing and book distribution in France, Vivendi would have a dominant position. This and other aspects are discussed in the Italian monthly Prima Comunicazione, specialized in the world of publishing.

FRANCE: LAGARDÈRE CLOSES THREE LOCAL SITES OF VIRGIN RADIO AND RFM

LAGARDÈRE CLOSES THREE LOCAL SITES OF VIRGIN RADIO AND RFM
Among the Virgin Radio sites affected by the closure is Angers, the capital of Maine and Loire
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The Lagardère group has unveiled a plan to redeploy 30 journalists and 4 presenters involved in closing 26 Virgin Radio and four RFM locations. Ownership attributes the need for the cuts to the music broadcasters’ declining audience due to competition from streaming platforms. But the CFDT union disputes this, attributing the crisis to the group’s management problems, as the other major generalist radio stations have not lost listeners. On the contrary, the stations that will be closed have sent €3.6 million in dividends to the Lagardère group in 2020.

We have already discussed the crisis at the Lagardère Group here and here.

Desertification risk

Closing the network’s regional offices also reduces news coverage in certain territories, particularly rural areas, which are already under stress due to the crisis: since 2009, the number of journalists has fallen by 10%
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In the communiqué issued by the union, the workers are acknowledged for their dedication to working as presenters in the morning, especially in “isolated editorial offices“, with net salaries of less than 1,900 euros per month. And fearing the danger of information desertification in certain areas, particularly rural ones, the CSA (Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel) is asked to monitor the merger in progress within the group and compliance with agreements. Indeed, operators are obliged to open local offices in order to broadcast local advertising. ”Certainly, shareholders dream of radio stations without journalists or presenters, but the media will die that way.”

VIVENDI AIMS AT THE CONTROL OF LAGARDÈRE

The article of CB News enters in the details of the operation promoted by Vincent Bolloré, patron of the Vivendi group: the group would rise to 45% of the capital and 36% of the voting rights and would be obliged to the Opa
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A few months after entering the capital of the Lagardère group, Vivendi aims to take control: in recent days it has announced its intention to acquire the package of 18% owned by the Amber Capital fund and that it will then present the Opa. Vivendi, which already has 27% of Lagardère’s shares in its portfolio, has set December 15, 2022 as the time horizon, offering 24.1 euros per share, thus recognizing a premium of about 20% compared to the quotations. However, the transaction must obtain the green light from the CSA (Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel), the Autorité des Marchés Financiers and the European Commission. In order to finance the acquisition, Vivendi’s owner Vincent Bolloré sold shares in Universal Music (retaining a sufficient 10% to maintain control), before listing the music giant on the Amsterdam stock exchange. The listing was a success, because compared to the placement fee set at 18.5 euros per share, the shares rose to 26.45 euros (+35%), giving the group a value of around 45.5 billion euros compared to 33 at the placement.

FRANCE: Public radio blackout on the east coast of Corsica

A fire that devastated French repeaters on Italian territory has made it impossible to listen to various national and local programmes on the island’s east coast since 27 June 2021

Public radio blackout on the east coast of Corsica
The fire broke out on the night of Saturday 27 June, shortly after 11 pm. The cause is unknown, but a short circuit has been suggested.
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Elba is a strategic location for illuminating the east coast of Corsica with radio signals. Mount Capanne is opposite Bastia and is about fifty kilometres as the crow flies from the Corsican coast, so much so that French public radio and television, in agreement with Italy, has repeaters on the summit since 1990.

Two pictures on the Radio France website show that the damage involved the mast at the station causing extensive damage.
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The location is managed by the TDF group (a company set up in 1975 by the public broadcaster to manage the technical infrastructure), which broadcasts four radio channels from the site, including national and regional ones: France Bleu RCFM (an acronym for Radio Corse Fréquence Mora, on 88.2 MHz), France Culture (92.3); France Inter (96.8) and France Musique (99.8).

Forty years ago, Radio Corse Internationale was silenced

Forty years ago, Radio Corse Internationale was silenced
On the portal’s website, Italradio dedicates an in-depth study to the 1980 bombing of the Monte Capanne posts
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Mount Capanne was also at the centre of an obscure episode, as the Italradio website writes: the attack on several repeaters on 14 August 1980, two weeks after the Bologna station massacre. A book published in France in 2013 (Histoire politique des services secrets français, Editions La Découverte) relates the four explosions to similar actions carried out by the French secret services. Among the radio stations involved was Radio Corse Internationale, a station that supported Corsican independence. The French government tried to use diplomatic means to stop the station but was met with disinterest from the Italian authorities. The station stopped broadcasting in 1981.

FRANCE: Radio blows out one hundred candles

31 May sees the start of the Festival de la Radio, a week celebrating radio with meetings, seminars, open houses, special programmes
31 May sees the start of the Festival de la Radio, a week celebrating radio with meetings, seminars, open houses, special programmes
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To celebrate the centenary of the first radio broadcast and the 40th anniversary of the liberalisation of the airwaves, the CSA (Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel) has organised a festival to be held between 31 May and 6 June, 2021. Launched by the authority that regulates the French media system, the initiative will involve public and private broadcasters. 2021 marks the centenary of the first broadcast from the Tour Eiffel (24 December 1921) and 40 years since the liberalisation of the FM band (9 November 1981). But innovation will also be celebrated, as the first national multiplex in the digital band (DAB+) will be launched this year. History and archives, special programmes, media education seminars, lectures, open studios: many events will be organised during the week. Information is available here.

FRANCE: The sale of M6 and RTL triggers a media earthquake

Vincent Bolloré is the majority shareholder of the Vivendi group, which, in addition to TF1 (France’s most watched TV channel), owns 28.8% of Mediaset in Italy
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The decision by the German group Bertelsmann to sell two leading broadcasters in terms of ratings (TV M6 and radio RTL are both in second place) has opened up competition between major French patrons. Four bids have already been submitted and the competition is expected to be fierce. There are also political interests: in 2022 there will be presidential elections, and the transfer of the two stations could reshape the media landscape. Especially if Vincent Bolloré, who has changed the political line of CNews (all news network) and shifted it to extreme right-wing positions, wins the elections. Details on the protagonists and the political balances at stake in the article of the Italian newspaper ‘Corriere della sera’.

FRANCE: Lagardère towards the ”break-up”?

Lagardère towards the ''break-up''?
Libération has dedicated an investigation to the subject (the article is behind a paywall, the newspaper can be read online for a month for just 1 EUR).
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The grip is tightening on the Lagardère Group, propped up months ago (read more about it here) by injections of liquidity by Vincent Bolloré (owner of Vivendi, a multimedia group created around Canal+) and Bernard Arnault (owner of LVMH, an international fashion group). Bolloré would have set his eyes on Europe 1, a generalist radio station very much listened to in France, and would like to absorb it and, in view of the next elections, align it with the positions of Marine Le Pen. Arnault, instead, first hour supporter of President Emmanuel Macron, would be interested in the Journal du dimanche and Paris Match. So in the looming tug-of-war, the money may not be enough to get the radio station into Vivendi’s orbit. An extensive summary can be read on the webmagazine Succede Oggi (in Italian, consultation is free). Prima Comunicazione, on the other hand, also talks about Bolloré’s interest in the French group M6, which the German group Bertelsmann is interested in selling.

FRANCE: 50 years of outstanding radio – FIP

FIP is celebrating the 50th anniversary
FIP is celebrating the 50th anniversary with lots of shows and historical music.
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At 5pm on 5th of January 1971, FIP started to broadcast in Paris on mediumwave 585 kHz as “France Inter Paris”. This was the beginning of an incomparable radio station, which has still no limits in musical variety. You can hear classical music followed by rock music and afterwards some French chanson – but it is never incoherent or without a transition between the songs. It is a surprising and refreshing station that has survived several belt-tightening moves from Radio France.

And there were quite some changes and cuttings in the past 50 years: a lot of local stations of FIP closed in 2000 and the remaining local outlets had to close at the end of 2020. Several outstanding shows were cancelled (like “Dites 33”, where all songs were played from vinyl), the news flash and the traffic information were removed in the last years. Fortunately, they never removed the good music choice and the female announcers, called “Fipettes”, with their famous voices.

But there are some positive developments since FIP started to broadcast on DAB from Lille, Lyon and Paris. With only ten FM frequencies in bigger cities like Paris, Strasbourg and Marseille, FIP is the smallest FM network of Radio France. In the regions where FIP can be received, they have a big audience – hopefully growing with the upcoming nationwide transmission on DAB.

The 50th anniversary will be celebrated by FIP in its programme with a lot of shows and historical music. Today, between 5 pm and 7 pm, the history of FIP will be narrated with music and anecdotes. Starting on the 9th of January at 8 pm, 50 years of music in 50 hours will be presented each Saturday for 50 weeks at this time.

A full programme schedule can be found here: https://www.fip.fr/les-50-ans-de-fip

FIP and its dedicated web channels can be received worldwide via https://www.fip.fr/

FRANCE Les radios françaises résistent au Covid-19

ABSTRACT (ENGLISH)

After speaking to the Italian radio editors, we asked French editors to tell us about the impact the pandemic has had on them. 97 radio stations replied, most of them community radio stations (83), giving us an insight into the reality they have faced which differs from that of the commercial radio stations monitored by SIRTI, the union that represents them. The radios have increased information (62%), organised fund raising and played a role in social solidarity. Advertising has halved (-49%) but the radio editors have survived the storm. To date only 1% of the staff has been laid off (34% in Italy), however 38% of the respondents have already applied for the advantages of the ‘partial employment’ scheme. Regarding energy consumption, which is a hot topic in Italy (45% of the budget goes in paying the bills), this is regulated in France and the cost is half (25%). At the end of the survey there are proposals made by the editors on how to come out of the crisis.

ARTICLE (EN FRANÇAIS)
La tour Eiffel, un des symboles de la grandeur française, a été sauvée par les radios. Elle devait être démolie au bout de vingt ans, mais elle était considérée comme une excellente antenne: en 1906, l'armée a commencé à l'utiliser, puis la marine. Aujourd'hui, elle est très fréquentée (elle est utilisée par 32 radios) et les loyers sont élevés, de sorte que pour couvrir la ville avec Dab, les compagnies de télécommunications proposent des sites alternatifs.
La tour Eiffel, un des symboles de la grandeur française, a été sauvée par les radios. Elle devait être démolie au bout de vingt ans, mais elle était considérée comme une excellente antenne: en 1906, l’armée a commencé à l’utiliser, puis la marine. Aujourd’hui, elle est très fréquentée (elle est utilisée par 32 radios) et les loyers sont élevés, de sorte que pour couvrir la ville avec Dab, les compagnies de télécommunications proposent des sites alternatifs.
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Après avoir interrogé les éditeurs italiens, nous avons demandé aux éditeurs français de nous parler de l’impact de la pandémie sur l’activité de leurs stations de radio. Les deux systèmes de media sont différents: en France, ils exploitent environ 900 radios (CSA – Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel), soit 6% de moins que les radios italiennes (957). Mais seulement une sur cinq est commerciale (environ 200, 22%), tandis que les 700 autres sont “associatives”: formule qui prévoit qu’une radio reste autofinancée et bénéficie d’une aide de l’Etat, avec une publicité qui ne peut dépasser 20% des recettes (et certaines stations ne la fournissent tout simplement pas). En Italie, par contre, les ratios sont inversés: 65% des stations (624) vivent grâce aux recettes publicitaires et pour les 333 stations, il n’y a qu’une limitation du nombre de spots publicitaires à diffuser (10% par heure, soit 6 minutes : pas peu).

Plus d’une station de radio sur dix a répondu

Les studios de RCF (Radio Crétienne Francofone), un réseau de 64 stations communautaires qui font appel à environ 3000 bénévoles
Les studios de RCF (Radio Crétienne Francofone), un réseau de 64 stations communautaires qui font appel à environ 3000 bénévoles
Crédits: Vincent Moncorge

L’enquête a été réalisée par 97 diffuseurs, pour la plupart des associations (83), dont 78 radios locales, 5 régionales, une multirégionale et une nationale. Cela nous a permis d’enquêter sur une réalité complémentaire à celle des radios commerciales, déjà contrôlées par Sirti, le syndicat qui les représente (nous en avons parlé ici). La réponse à l’urgence a été similaire à celle des radios italiennes : au-delà des Alpes également, les radios ont réagi en renforçant l’information, en organisant des collectes de fonds et en jouant un rôle de cohésion sociale.

Publicité (et recettes) réduite de moitié? Il est “coupé”, mais seulement en grands groupes

Les studios de Azur FM, la première radio associative alzacienne émettant sur cinq fréquences
Les studios de Azur FM, la première radio associative alzacienne émettant sur cinq fréquences
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La publicité a été réduite de moitié en moyenne (-49%), ce qui reflète la situation des stations de radio multirégionales (-50%), tandis que les spots publicitaires (-72%) et les stations de radio nationales (-90%) ont souffert. Le “préjudice” causé aux associations, qui se concentrent moins sur la publicité, a été limité: pour elles, la baisse a été de 24%. Le renforcement des espaces d’information a été en moyenne de 62% (54% en Italie), mais comme nous l’avons observé en Italie, les radios et réseaux nationaux ont fait beaucoup plus, augmentant les nouvelles de 85 et 105% respectivement, contre 63% pour les associations. Un effort organisationnel autofinancé, non indifférent et soutenu. Les éditeurs, grands et petits, ont résisté à l’impact sans recourir aux licenciements: des petites réalités aux stations de radio nationales, seulement 1,34% du personnel a été licencié (en Italie 34%). Mais 38% des entreprises ont demandé un chômage partiel, en particulier les radios multirégionales (55%). Les associations et les commerciaux sont au même niveau (avec respectivement 40 et 41%), aussi parce qu’ils sont gérés en moyenne par 5 employés et 40 bénévoles. Les grands groupes, au contraire, ont déjà commencé à couper : nous en avons parlé ici.

Juste ce qu’il faut au frais de fonctionnement

Le CSA Conseil Supérieur de l'Audivisuel, est l'autorité publique qui réglemente également la planification des fréquences
Le CSA Conseil Supérieur de l’Audivisuel, est l’autorité publique qui réglemente également la planification des fréquences
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En France, l’éther est planifié et l’énergie n’est pas gaspillée: les factures d’électricité n’absorbent qu’un quart du budget annuel d’un radiodiffuseur, alors qu’en Italie, elles sont presque deux fois plus élevées (45 %). Seul un faible pourcentage de répondants (10%) est favorable à la réduction de la puissance des systèmes, mais ils souhaiteraient l’appliquer à tous les émetteurs, même ceux de moins de 100W. Concernant la durée de la réduction, 54% la limiteraient à trois mois, tandis que 27% souhaiteraient la maintenir pour toujours.

De nombreuses idées pour redémarrer

Les droits d'auteur sont gérés par deux sociétés: la Sacem est responsable des droits des auteurs, compositeurs et producteurs de musique; la Spre celle des artistes interprètes et producteurs de musique
Les droits d’auteur sont gérés par deux sociétés: la Sacem est responsable des droits des auteurs, compositeurs et producteurs de musique; la Spre celle des artistes interprètes et producteurs de musique
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Nous avons regroupé les suggestions des éditeurs par thèmes, en essayant de les transformer en propositions dont les associations devront être les porte-parole. Deux radios sur trois (66%) demandent une prime et un fonds de soutien, mais sur le reste des mesures, il y a une nette distinction entre les radios commerciales et associatives. Les premiers demandent une aide financière, une réduction des impôts (ou leur suppression pour 2020 et 2021) et des charges salariales. Il y a ceux qui pointent du doigt les droits d’auteur (gérés par la Sacem et la Spre) et ceux qui suggèrent au gouvernement de prévoir un crédit d’impôt pour les annonceurs, pour relancer la publicité (une mesure également envisagée en Italie). Les radio associatives, quant à elles, réclament des subventions exceptionnelles, une augmentation du FSER (Fonds de soutien à l’expression radiophonique locale) et des formes de soutien indirect, comme la diffusion de messages d’intérêt général (payés par le gouvernement) afin de faire rentrer de l’argent frais dans les caisses désormais vides. Mais aussi des solutions rapides, telles que la réduction de la TVA. En bref, le monde entier est un pays, même le fait que (comme cela s’est produit dans le cadre d’une enquête italienne similaire), un seul éditeur s’est déclaré satisfait de ce que le gouvernement a fait jusqu’à présent pour la radio. 

FRANCE: Large networks cut costs and staff

In order to compensate for lower advertising revenues caused by the pandemic, the large networks are making savings like this: Altice has closed down the TV channel RMC Sport and laid off a third of its personnel, RTL has dismissed well known radio hosts and television presenters and NRJ has sold a stake to increase liquidity

The TV channel RMC Sport News, at crisis level due to cancellations of sports events, was shut down on June 2nd, 2020
The TV channel RMC Sport News, at crisis level due to cancellations of sports events, was shut down on June 2nd, 2020
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In June 2020 the French subsidiary of the Altice group (a multinational with headquarters in Holland), presented a plan to the unions ‘in order to save the media group’. This involved all the divisions in the NextRadioTV group, including channels BFM TV and RMC. The goal is to streamline both organisation and programming by axing between 330 and 380 full-time staffers in addition to 200 freelancers. According to the union representing the employees at Altice CGT (Confederation generale du travail) ‘This drastic cut in personnel is incomprehensible for a profitable group in constant growth, which had a turnover of € 120 million in 2019, a 300% increase in 5 years’.

Unions jump into action

This press release, giving information on the progress of their negotiations, appeared on June 29th, 2020, on the Facebook page of the union representing Altice staff
This press release, giving information on the progress of their negotiations, appeared on June 29th, 2020, on the Facebook page of the union representing Altice staff
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Following a number of strikes and union action, the company softened its stance on June 29th, 2020. It undertook to ‘offer voluntary redundancies to a maximum of 330 staffers and not proceed with layoffs until November 31st, 2021’. It will also try ‘to find alternative employment for staffers who cannot be placed in other positions inside the organisation and find a solution for freelancers’.

Capital gain of € 300 million in 2018

On June 8th, 2020, Capital printed this article which explains the real estate operation that led to a sizeable capital gain on the sale of the premises of some of the group's headquarters
On June 8th, 2020, Capital printed this article which explains the real estate operation that led to a sizeable capital gain on the sale of the premises of some of the group’s headquarters
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Up to a short time ago the group was flourishing to the point that the owner, Patrick Drahi, and Alan Weill, the Chief Executive Officer of NextRadioTV, made €300 million gross from the capital gain on the sale of some buildings. These four towers, located in the 15th arrondissement in Paris, are the headquarters of SFR (Societe francaise du radiotelephone, the second largest mobile communications company), BFM TV and the daily newspaper Liberation. The 85,800 square metres of floorspace accommodates 7,000 employees. Apparently in 2018 Drahi and Weill bought the buildings in their own names to then resell them to the group at a higher price.

RTL dismiss well known radio hosts and television presenters

The RTL Group with headquarters in Luxembourg is one of the leading companies in the field of broadcasting and digital media with interests in 68 television stations, 8 streaming platforms, 30 radio stations and a production company in many countries worldwide
The RTL Group with headquarters in Luxembourg is one of the leading companies in the field of broadcasting and digital media with interests in 68 television stations, 8 streaming platforms, 30 radio stations and a production company in many countries worldwide
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The RTL group’s accounts for the first quarter this year closed with a fall of 3.14%. Two months later, the French headquarters announced the dismissals of a number of well known television presenters and radio hosts, the departure of the head of the political service and a cut in the budget of the correspondent in the United States. Details can be found on Jean Marc Morandini’s website

NRJ sells a stake to increase liquidity

The NRJ Group has four national radio stations (NRJ, Cherie FM, Nostalgie and Rire & Chansons), two free national TV channels (NRJ 12 and Cherie 25), a pay TV channel (NRJ HITS) and, with their subsidiary Towercast, is the second largest operator of infrastructure and transmission towers
The NRJ Group has four national radio stations (NRJ, Cherie FM, Nostalgie and Rire & Chansons), two free national TV channels (NRJ 12 and Cherie 25), a pay TV channel (NRJ HITS) and, with their subsidiary Towercast, is the second largest operator of infrastructure and transmission towers
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Despite its leading position in the French market, NRJ is also feeling the pinch. On June 24th, 2020, NRJ sold a 5% stake in Euro-Information Telecom for €50 million. The company stated that the sale proceedswill be used for the needs of the group’s business‘. See details here

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