World Media 2006: France

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 31 March 2006 12:00AM

Despite surprise social and political developments such as the city race riots and rejection of the EU constitution, France remains conservative in media terms, with little advance in digital TV.

It is very rare to see a French government shaken out of its traditional attitude of insouciant froideur, so 2005 turned out to be a year to remember for Francophiles everywhere.

The biggest political embarrassment came in May, when the French electorate sent shockwaves across the rest of the European Union by rejecting the proposed new EU constitution. Given that France is not only the lead architect of the EU but also its biggest beneficiary, the outcome of the vote seemed perverse to outsiders.

But worse was to follow in the autumn, when the country was rocked by riots in the immigrant districts of a number of cities, starting in the Paris suburbs and spreading to Dijon, Lyon and Amiens.

Critics argued that both events showed how out of touch France's paternalistic and highly centralised form of government had become - but there is still no obvious successor to Jacques Chirac, who has been the French president since 1995.

To some outsiders, France seems to operate with a profoundly paradoxical mindset. On the technological side, it wants to be seen to be embracing all that is adventurous and futuristic - it is the lead nation in the Airbus 380 project, for instance, and engineering feats such as the truly spectacular Grand Viaduc du Millau have certainly embraced the 21st century.

Yet in cultural areas, such as cuisine and the arts, France seems to be conservative, not to say deeply reactionary.

Media appears to fit comfortably into the latter category and, of all the major European markets, France has been the most successful in preserving its traditional media profile. The country has been relatively slow to embrace multichannel television and although a digital terrestrial platform, La TNT, finally got off the ground last year, French consumers have been comprehensively underwhelmed by the proposition.

So it comes as no surprise to see old dinosaurs such as TF1, the country's dominant free-to-air terrestrial commercial television channel, not only holding their own but actually increasing their audience share.

The hottest creative medium in France is, as always, outdoor. Actually, last year it was the coolest - the most talked-about advertising campaign involved Wranglers freezing its latest line of jeans in huge lumps of ice and then inviting young Parisians to liberate the clothing using ice-picks.

ADVERTISING EXPENDITURE USdollars million at current prices. All years based on US$1= EUR0.8. *Estimated Total TV Newspapers Magazines Radio 1994 8,694 2,414 2,285 2,118 719 1995 9,045 2,623 2,349 2,178 720 1996 9,286 2,732 2,406 2,254 701 1997 9,636 2,876 1,461 3,357 675 1998 10,424 3,073 1,721 3,555 715 1999 11,501 3,335 2,021 3,808 801 2000 12,753 3,785 2,246 4,097 889 2001 12,097 3,561 2,057 4,030 813 2002 11,864 3,629 1,967 3,818 886 2003 11,895 3,738 1,859 3,818 924 2004 12,424 3,981 1,909 3,908 975 2005 12,662 4,037 1,927 3,915 1,000 2006* 12,956 4,109 1,957 3,962 1,035 2007* 13,413 4,348 1,984 4,015 1,074 2008* 13,625 4,428 1,988 4,056 1,105 Total Outdoor Online Cinema 1994 8,694 1,106 0 51 1995 9,045 1,118 0 57 1996 9,286 1,137 0 57 1997 9,636 1,201 6 58 1998 10,424 1,274 21 65 1999 11,501 1,353 98 85 2000 12,753 1,458 179 100 2001 12,097 1,402 143 90 2002 11,864 1,348 123 92 2003 11,895 1,312 163 81 2004 12,424 1,346 222 83 2005 12,662 1,366 329 87 2006* 12,956 1,393 411 88 2007* 13,413 1,410 493 89 2008* 13,625 1,423 534 91 Adspend notes 1) 15% agency commission included. 2) Excludes production costs. 3) Includes classified advertising. 4) After discounts. 5) Papers include regional, national and free titles to 1996. 6) Magazines include free titles from 1997. 7) TV includes cable and satellite from 1997. FACTFILE Highest circulating titles - Newspaper: Ouest France (daily, 762,000 copies) - Business magazine: Le Particulier (monthly, 424,000 copies) - Consumer magazine: Plus (monthly listings title from Canal+, 4,864,000 copies) Top TV shows - Most watched TV programme (2004): Switzerland v France, Euro 2004 football championships - Best new TV format: Mon Incroyable Fiance - wedding reality show Major measurement tools - Circulation: Diffusion Controle/OJD - Readership: Ipsos Medias - TV viewing: Mediametrie, GfK Main media owners - Newspapers: Figaro - Magazines Hachette Filipacchi Associes, Prisma Presse - Television: TF1, RTL

THE LOWDOWN

Media topic du jour: Are the Paris-based metropolitan media out of touch with the mood of disaffected urban youth?

Reigning media gurus and why: Bruno Kemoun and Eryck Rebbouh, having departed Carat in 2003, are still the market's smartest operators and are now at their own operation, KR Media.

Media mogul to be seen dining with: Still Vincent Bollore in the hope that you'll get an inkling of what he'll do next.

Car to drive: Renault Fluence.

Phone to carry: Nokia 3220 NFC enabled.

Whatever you do, don't say: Red sky at night, Lyon's alight.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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