October 2014 : New Bid to Change AFP's Statutes

  • Most recent update of this page: Wednesday November 19, 2014

On 17 September a group of Socialist members of the French parliament led by Michel Françaix, who has produced a report suggesting changes both to the 1957 law that set up AFP in its present form and to the way the agency is financed, filed draft legislation on the French press which would include several changes to the statutes.

The main changes proposed would:

  • Add to Article 1 of the statutes a paragraph stating that any activities of Agence France-Presse which do not fall within the general interest missions laid out in articles one and two must be treated separately for accounting purposes. This proposal is part of an effort by the government, and AFP management, to comply with changes demanded by the European Commission on the grounds of its policies on competition and state subsidies.
  • Reduce from eight to five the number of members of the AFP board appointed by the professional bodies of the French print media. (Article 7)
  • Also in Article 7, create a new category of five board members to be appointed by AFP's "higher council" and comprising "figures appointed for their knowledge of the media and digital technologies, their skills in economics and management, including in the European and international arenas." As a result of these changes the size of the AFP board of governors would increase from 15 to 17, including the chief executive officer.
    The revised Article 7 would also call for "balanced representation of women and men" on the board.
  • Call on AFP's financial commission, which oversees the agency's accounts, to "ensure each year that the financial compensation provided by the State under the terms of article 13 does not exceed the net costs incurred by carrying out AFP's general interest missions." (Article 12)
    NB: Article 13 of the statutes was changed in 2011 to specify that the support provided by the French state to AFP, over and above the normal commercial price of the wire service subscriptions taken out by state bodies, is intended to compensate for the said missions. The latter correspond to what EU competition policy defines as "Services of General Economic Interest".
  • Increase the term of office for AFP's chief executive officer from three to five years. (Article 10)

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