France Culture

France Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in France

According to CONSTRUCTMATERIALS.COM, France is a country located in Europe. Today’s French media landscape is characterized by a strong state influence. It has its roots in the post-war era, when the state intervened and regulated an industry that lost credibility due to its cooperation with the German occupying power. Even after the liberalization of the TV and radio monopoly in the 1980s, the state has a strong control over the private players. For example, private broadcasters must spend a certain amount of their profits on supporting French film, 50% of the TV programs should come from European countries and 35% of the music played on the radio must be related to France.

The position of the daily press in France is weak, despite having the largest state support per capita in Europe. By law, it is forbidden for a media house to control more than 30% of the newspaper market.

Freedom of expression and expression in the media is rooted in the Press Freedom Act that was passed in 1881. The law has been revised a number of times and prohibits, among other things, the call for discrimination on grounds of gender, ethnicity or disability. It is also a criminal offense to call for serious crimes.

The media is also regulated by a law from 1995 that prohibits the invasion of residents’ privacy. means that French politicians and public figures do not have disclosures that in many other countries would mean the end of a career.

In January 2015, France was shaken by an act of terror that was seen as an attack on freedom of speech. Armed men entered the satire newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s editorial team and murdered twelve people. The newspaper has for many years published controversial jokes by, among others, Islam’s prophet Muhammad.

Internet and mobile telephony

Almost 80% of households have access to the Internet, and access is increasing rapidly as more and more people connect via mobile broadband. Global sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Google are the most visited.

File sharing of copyrighted material is prohibited under the so-called HADOPI Act, which was passed in 2009.

The traditional media has found it difficult to find functioning business models on the internet, although the newspapers Le Monde and Le Figaro are included in the list of the 20 most visited sites. Attempts at so-called paywalls have not been successful in news distribution. An exception is the site Mediapart, which has about 75,000 subscribers (2014). It was started in 2008 by Edwy Plenel, former editor-in-chief at Le Monde. Mediapart is focused on commentary and revealing journalism and has no ads but is fully funded with subscription fees.

There are four mobile operators with their own network. Largest is Orange, owned by France Telecom, the former state telephone company that was privatized in 1998 but where the state has continued influence as the largest individual shareholder.

TV and radio

Experiments with television broadcasting began as early as 1931 and the first TV channel (TF 1) started in 1948. Radio broadcasting began in 1922.

At the end of World War II, a state monopoly on broadcasters was introduced and a state-licensed public service company was formed. In 1974, the business was divided into seven separate companies, one for radio and three for television broadcasts.

In 1982 the radio monopoly was broken and in 1984 the first private TV channel, Canal Plus, was allowed. In 2012, there were over 1,200 private radio stations. State Radio France broadcasts in seven channels and also has extensive activities on the Internet.

In television, there are five state channels and some 50 private in the terrestrial digital TV network. In addition, there are hundreds of cable and satellite TV channels. The analogue terrestrial network was closed in 2011.

Advertising in the state channels is about to be phased out, while advertising in the private channels is tightly regulated in terms of content, length and frequency.

Daily press and magazine

The national daily press has long been in crisis, despite major government subsidies totaling just over EUR 400 million in 2014. The reasons are poorly developed distribution and competition from free newspapers like Metro and 20 Minutes. New players on the Internet have also eroded the press’s business models, while trade union agreements have prevented savings through new technology.

The French press is more focused on a highly educated elite compared to the Swedish and the space for gossip news is small due to laws protecting the private sphere of citizens. Especially for France, several regional newspapers also have a larger circulation than the largest national newspapers, and they have not had the same circulation drop as the national press over the last ten years.

The largest of the French newspapers is the liberal regional newspaper Ouest-France, founded in 1944, with an edition of almost 800,000 copies. (2014). It comes out in 53 different editions in the regions of Pays de Loire, Normandy and Brittany. Of the national newspapers, conservative Le Figaro and left-leaning Le Monde are the largest, with editions of about 300,000 copies.

There is a rich flora of weekly magazines and monthly magazines, the largest being TV Magazine with an edition of over 5 million copies. The biggest and best known of the news magazines is Paris-Match with an edition of about 575,000 items. (2013).

History day press

The first daily newspaper in France is counted on the 1631 established Nouvelles ordinaires de divers endroits. It was already competed after a few months out of La Gazette, which after a short time gained royal privilege and under the name La Gazette de France became official body of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

France’s first daily newspaper, Le Journal de Paris (founded 1777), met with distrust from other publishers but became a great success. More than 1,500 periodical publications were published during the French Revolution and beyond. Several were bodies for individuals, such as Marat’s L’Ami du Peuple. Napoleon limited the number of newspapers in Paris to four in 1811 (La Gazette de France, Le Journal de Paris, Le Journal de L’Empire and Le Moniteur); others were banned.

In France, the world’s first news agency, Agence Havas, was founded in 1835. The first modern newspaper in France was La Presse, established in 1836 with the help of a low price and a comprehensive content, ie. not just politics. The low price was made possible through advertising sales. These ideas were passed on in the Le Petit Journal, which was started in 1863, held a lower price than La Presse and offered entertainment in the form of serial novels and sensations.

The Le Petit Journal got several competitors, mainly Le Petit Parisien (1876), all with millions of editions. As a counterbalance to this press, Le Figaro (founded as a weekly magazine in 1854) was launched in 1866 as a daily quality newspaper. The daily press establishment was favored by a Freedom of the Press Act of 1881; inter alia started the Catholic newspaper La Croix in 1883 and the socialist L’Humanité in 1904.

The First World War brought a complete break in development. During the interwar period, Le Petit Journal and its closest competitors continued to dominate. Through cooperation with Agence Havas and the distribution company Hachette, both with a monopoly position, they saw that new magazines were not started in Paris, but could not prevent the news and image magazine Paris-Soir from being a great success and in the late 1930s were sold in 2 million ex.

The Second World War meant a new fatal interruption in the development of the daily press, and after the war, the publication of all newspapers published during the occupation was banned with some exception. For example, Le Figaro restart, but not Paris-Soir. Among the new newspapers were Le Monde and France-Soir, the latter closed in 2012.

The news agency operations within Agence Havas, through a state intervention in 1944, became its own, subsequently cooperatively owned company, Agence France-Presse (AFP). Beginning in the 1950s, the daily press received strong competition from weekly magazines of a news character, first Le Nouvel Observateur and L’Express, then Le Point and in the 1980s L’Événement du jeudi.

Book and publishing system

Before the introduction of the letterpress in the 1400s, texts were copied by hand in the monasteries and from the 13th century also by booksellers who were affiliated with the universities and whose activities were first established in a regulations 1259. The printing press art was introduced in France by three Germans, Michael Friburger, Martin Crantz and Ulrich Gering, who came to Paris in 1469. The first book printed in Paris (Sorbonne) was “Lettres de Gaspard de Bergame” (1470). The first major French printing company combined with the bookstore was created by the Estienne family in Paris.

The authorities soon realized the political significance of printed writing, and in the 16th century it was enacted the dépôt légal, ie. duty to submit review copies. Only after a book had undergone religious censorship (carried out at Sorbonne) could the bookseller be granted royal permission to sell it. The religious censorship was replaced in 1686 by a state. The number of royal censors was set at 79, and at the same time the number of bookshops in Paris was limited to 24.

As a result of the censorship, Voltaire, Rousseau and Montesquieu were not printed in France but in Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In the 18th century, a publishing license (privilege) was introduced for the author, who, after drafting this permission, could sell it to a bookstore. In a regulation in 1777, the author’s position was strengthened – among other things. severe penalties were imposed against undue copying. After many shifts, the censorship was finally abolished in 1881.

In the 18th century, there was a trend towards book publishing in the modern sense. The versatile Diderot, together with the bookseller Le Breton, was the main responsible for the publication of the encyclopedia “Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers” in 35 volumes (1751-80). Diderot wrote in 1767 in “Lettre sur le commerce de la librairie” about the book publishing problem.

In 1826, Louis Hachette (1800–64) founded the book publisher Hachette, which today is a worldwide media group. He has published textbooks, reference books as well as French and foreign fiction. Garnier frères (founded in 1833) published Sainte-Beuve, Proudhon and Chateaubriand as well as Rabelais with illustrations by Gustave Doré. Librairie Calmann-Lévy was created in 1836 and published, among other things. Dumas, Balzac, Vigny, Victor Hugo and Stendhal. The linguist Pierre Larousse created Librairie Larousse in 1852, focusing on school books, encyclopedias and dictionaries (“Grand Dictionnaire du XIX e siècle” in 15 volumes, 1866-76). Ernest Flammarion (1846–1936) founded in 1876 the publisher that still bears his name; Among his authors are Zola and his brother Camille Flammarion, pioneer of popular science literature.

The trend towards international media conglomerates and large publishing groups has gone a long way in France as well as in other western countries. Hachette (2010) is the world’s second largest publishing group (after Germany-based Bertelsmann); major literary publishers in the group are Calmann-Lévy, Fayard, Stock, Bernard Grasset, and the group also includes Larousse. The second largest in France is Éditis, owned by Spanish Planeta; this includes Presses de la Cité, Plon and Robert Laffont. Groupe Gallimard is the third largest, followed by Flammarion.

Important publishers are also Éditions du Seuil, a leading literary publisher within the La Martinière group, as well as the independent publisher Albin-Michel. The literary award plays an important role. The most prestigious is the Goncourt Prize. Other known prizes are Fémina, Renaudot, Interallié, Médicis and the French Academy’s Grand Prix du novel.

In 2009, the French book market had a turnover of approximately EUR 5 billion, and the number of new titles was approximately 65,000. After a period of free prices, France returned to a strict system of fixed book prices in 1981, which has been considered to favor quality literature and counter the best-sellerism.


According to APARENTINGBLOG, French culture has played an important role in European civilization. Not least during the 17th and 18th century enlightenment, French culture held a significant position, and the country has also retained a strong influence thereafter. France is, among other things, the country that has been awarded the most Nobel Prize in literature.

Already in the Middle Ages, France, with its Gothic cathedral building art and science, played an important role in European civilization. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, through Impressionism, Expressionism and Cubism, France had an almost total dominance in the field of visual art. Names such as Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin and Henri Matisse are central to a revolutionary era in art history.

French film has always had a great international influence. The Lumière brothers were among the film’s pioneers. During the 1930s, director Jean Renoir was a prominent name. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, directors such as Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut introduced new thinking in film art with the so-called new wave.

French literature experienced a new golden age during the 20th century. Significant writers include Marcel Proust, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, André Gide (Nobel Laureate 1947) and André Malraux. Among the foremost writers after the Second World War are Albert Camus (Nobel Laureate 1957), Jean-Paul Sartre (Nobel Laureate 1964, but he refused to receive the award) and his longtime life companion Simone de Beauvoir, one of the women’s movement’s pioneers. Among other notable authors are Claude Simon (Nobel Laureate 1985), Marguerite Yourcenar, Marguerite Duras and Michel Tournier. In 2008, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio was awarded the 13th Nobel Prize in literature in France and in 2014 the author Patrick Modiano received the award.

Among classic French composers are Georges Bizet, Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy. In the 20th century, a style of music called chanson (song in French) was developed, which is considered to be based more on the rhythm of the French language than other, more English-influenced popular music. Some names in the genre are Édith Piaf, Charles Aznavour and Joe Dassin.

Another aspect of French cultural life is played out at the shows of the big fashion houses. During the 20th century, the leading fashion designers in Paris have decided how the world’s women and men should dress. French fashion has recently lost ground, but Paris is still the capital of the entire fashion industry. Names like Coco Chanel, Charles Dior and Yves Saint-Laurent are forever associated with the history of fashion. They now have followers like Christian Lacroix or Jean-Paul Gaultier.



Fines for Jean-Marie Le Pen

National Front’s founder and father of current leader Marine Le Pen is sentenced to € 5,000 in fines for public insult due to ethnicity. Jean-Marie Le Pen had said at a meeting that Roma steal “naturally”. The now 85-year-old Le Pen has previously been convicted of racist statements and of denial of denial.


Low support for Hollande

The country’s economic problems are having repercussions for President Hollande, who is losing much confidence in the French. In a poll, he is supported by only 15 percent of voters. Only 3 percent of respondents are very satisfied with the president’s job, and a full 76 percent are dissatisfied.


Investigation against Sarkozy is closed

The president’s prospect of a return to politics increases as the judiciary files a lengthy investigation into him for illegal campaign finance.

Strong support for Le Pen

National Front leader Marine Le Pen is supported by 33 percent of French in a poll on the popularity of politicians. Le Pen comes in third place after Interior Minister Manuel Valls and former President Nicolas Sarkozy.


Romans evicted

According to a report by Amnesty International, more than 10,000 Roma were evicted from their places of residence in France during the first six months of the year. Interior Minister Manuel Valls defends the policy, explaining that Roma from Bulgaria and Romania will never be able to integrate into France.


Le Pen’s legal immunity is revoked

The European Parliament votes to lift National Front leader Marine Le Pen’s legal immunity. This means that it will be possible to prosecute her for comparing Muslim prayer calls in French cities with the Nazi occupation during the Second World War. A court in Lyon has wanted to bring charges against her for incitement to people.


The Constitutional Council approves the law on same-sex marriage

The new law is signed by President Hollande and comes into force. (see April).


Law on same-sex marriage

Parliament approves the Socialist Government’s much-debated bill on same-sex marriage and the right of homosexuals to adopt children (see November 2012).

Minister acknowledges tax evasion

Retired Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac (see March) admits to lying that he had an account for tax evasion in Switzerland. The opposition is accusing President Hollande of naivety or lying about Cahuzac’s business, and the National Front calls for new elections.


Minister resigns

Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac leaves his post after charges of tax evasion, but he denies the charges being brought against him. (see January 2013)


Troop to Mali

France sends over 3,000 soldiers to the former Colony of Mali in West Africa to help the government fight Islamist rebels.

Mass protests in cities

Hundreds of thousands of public servants protested in several cities against the government’s plans for budgetary tightening and demanded increased salaries instead.

Minister is investigated for tax evasion

Prosecutors are launching a preliminary investigation into tax evasion against Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac, who is responsible for fighting that particular crime. Cahuzac is accused of having a secret bank account in Switzerland.

Basque separatist party dissolved

Batasuna announces its dissolution and closure of its operations in France. Previously, Batasuna was banned in Spain for its suspected ties to the terrorist-stamped separatist movement ETA.

France Culture

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