For some observers, the fate of the Bordeaux wine industry in recent years - not least in 2006 - perfectly encapsulates the enduring contradictions at the heart of the French economy.
There's every indication that the hot, dry summer has produced a vintage year for the region's top chateaux, which still dominate the premium end of the world's wine markets. They have every cause to celebrate. Not so lucky, however, are the region's 10,000 lesser-known winemakers.
The region is a major contributor to Europe's wine lake, which at harvest time last year totalled more than 17 billion litres - almost exactly equal to a whole year's typical output. Total wine consumption is dropping across Europe and markets such as the UK have been turning increasingly to more consistent New World labels.
So, while Bordeaux's top vineyards prepare to lionise a vintage year, the rest of the region has been forced into an "emergency distillation" - turning their wine into pure alcohol for bio-fuels or, even more depressingly, into disinfectant.
Although the French are often cited as forward-thinking and good Europeans, the nation often seems reluctant to change, lumbered with a value system at odds with the modern world.
True, they might argue that progress is empty if it is devoid of elan. And indeed, French engineering and architecture are often the envy of the world. Look, for instance, at the Lighthouse project destined to grace the skyline of the Paris business district, La Defense - this building will be the city's second-tallest (and arguably its most striking) structure when it is completed in 2012.
But the national mood remains uneasy. Against a backdrop of continuing unrest (although there has been no repeat of the 2005 riots) among the country's ethnic minorities, even France's hi-tech aerospace credentials are being questioned as never before - witness recent problems at Airbus, with management upheavals and further delays to the super jumbo A380, originally due to enter service in 2007.
Perhaps, then, it comes as no surprise to find that the biggest media news in France last year wasn't a commercial initiative, nor was it a realignment of existing interests to face the digital challenge, but a 24-hour international news channel - a "CNN a la francaise". Backed by the Government in an attempt to combat the "Anglo-Saxon imperialism" it detects in global news agendas, it will, perhaps predictably, devote 20 per cent of programming to cultural issues. Such as wine.
USdollars million at current prices. All years based on US$1 =
EUR 0.80 *Estimated
Total News- Maga- TV Radio Cinema Out- Online
papers zines door
2000 12,766 2,248 4,101 3,788 890 100 1,459 179
2001 12,109 2,059 4,034 3,565 814 90 1,404 143
2002 11,876 1,969 3,822 3,633 887 92 1,350 123
2003 11,907 1,861 3,822 3,741 925 81 1,313 163
2004 12,448 1,910 3,912 3,985 976 83 1,347 234
2005 12,670 1,935 3,978 4,025 989 97 1,346 301
2006 13,068 1,960 4,029 4,185 1,016 100 1,372 407
2007* 13,494 1,976 4,068 4,417 1,025 101 1,378 529
2008* 13,822 1,991 4,118 4,571 1,044 102 1,389 607
2009* 14,236 2,011 4,179 4,744 1,063 104 1,405 729
Adspend notes 1) 15 per cent agency commission included. 2) Excludes
production costs and taxes. 3) Includes classified advertising. 4) After
discounts. 5) Newspapers include national and regional titles, and free
titles to 1996. 6) Magazines include free titles from 1997. 7) TV
includes cable and satellite from 1997.
HIGHEST CIRCULATING TITLES
Newspaper: L'Equipe (sports daily, 341,000 copies)
Business magazine: Le Particulier (monthly, 470,000 copies)
Consumer magazine: Plus (monthly, 4,800,000 copies)
TOP TV SHOWS
Most-watched TV programme: World Cup qualifier: France v Cyprus
Best new TV format: R.I.S. Police Scientifique. CSI with a heavy French
MAJOR MEASUREMENT TOOLS
TV viewing: Mediametrie
Press: EPIQ, TNS, OJD
MAIN MEDIA OWNERS
Newspapers: Figaro, Le Monde
Magazines: Hachette Filipacchi, Publiprint-Socprint
TV: TF1, M6
- Media topic du jour
The feeling that Vincent Bollore was first to blink in the Aegis showdown.
- Reigning media guru and why
The tireless blogger Loic Le Meur would like the title, but in reality it has to go to Constance Benque, Lagardere's digital mastermind.
- Media mogul to be seen dining with and why
Arnaud Lagardere, who is slowly but surely expanding the Lagardere media empire, not least in the digital domain.
- Car to drive: Toyota Prius.
- Phone to carry: Nokia 8800.
- Whatever you do, don't say: Parlez-vous anglais?
BUZZ MEDIA IDEA OF 2006
The French media markets were ticking over nicely during 2006, but with trends in digital media somewhat disappointing, the market felt in need of some sort of catalyst to stimulate more dynamic growth. So it was good news all round when French regulators allowed retail chains, such as Systeme U, to advertise on TV for the first time. Cultural commentators were less enthusiastic - this can be seen as yet another threat to traditional (distinctly non-supermarket) French ways of shopping.