French-style aid for U.S. press would cost $8B
Even though it’s a safe bet that a government bailout of U.S. newspapers ain’t gonna happen, the French government last week decided to spend $767 million to prop up its nation’s press, according to my friend Frederic Filoux, who served on one of the committees of the government commission that crafted the plan.
The French rescue package is equal to 15% of the $5 billion in revenues generated by the country's newspapers in 2007. Applying the same ratio to the $54.5 billion in advertising and circulation sales booked by U.S. newspapers in 2007, then the price tag for a like-sized package here would come to $8 billion.
Inasmuch as total ad and circ sales for U.S. papers probably were $38.5 billion in 2008, an $8 billion handout from Uncle Sam would cover barely half the shortfall.
Courtesy of Frederic’s blog, here’s a detailed look at les goodies in the French plan:
:: Tax-breaks for newspaper delivery services and news agents.
:: A “huge but still undisclosed” amount of aid for restructuring newspaper production facilities.
:: A doubling of government spending on advertising in newspapers .
:: Free subscriptions for 18 year olds, with “the publisher providing the paper and the government paying for the delivery.”
:: A tax deduction that treats an investment in a newspaper company like a gift to a non-profit organization.
:: A request to the European Union to cut the value-added tax on online newspaper ad purchases to 2.4% from the current 19%.
Frederic isn’t exactly proud of the plan.
“This is not a stimulus package,” he wrote. “This is a Band-Aid to an ailing industry that has a shown a tremendous resistance to change at every level.”
Déjà vu all over again, non?