Emmanuel Hoog, head of France's National TV & Radio Institute (INA) is elected CEO after the abrupt resignation of Pierre Louette. News, reactions.
- April 12: Pigeat Report Says AFP to Keep its 1957 Statutes: Report by Delphine Denuit in Le Figaro.
- April 8: The Pigeat Committee on AFP's future hands in its report to Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand ...who says he has no intention of publishing it before a new CEO is appointed! - Statement from the French Culture Ministry [Fr] - AFP wire story from the "France 24" web site [Fr] - About the Pigeat Committee [En]
- March 31: Six of the candidates auditioned by the preselection committee - but no names released - AFP wire story in French (Google News)
- Trade Union Resolution: The CGT journalists' union (SNJ-CGT) "calls on the government and the media bosses to bury once and for all the Louette Plan... which aims to transform the only non Anglo-Saxon global news agency into a publicly owned joint-stock company with the aim of privatising it later." Statement issued by the SNJ-CGT Conference in Lille [Fr]
- SNJ-CFDT-FO-CFE-CGC joint union resolution: "With the departure of Pierre Louette, his plan to reform the Agency's statutes by turning it into a joint-stock company that would be handed over initially to the public sector and then to the vagaries of the market is no longer on the cards" - Statement in French on the SNJ-AFP web site"
- March 29: AFP's future CEO "must reform the statutes" : Frédéric Mitterrand - the French culture minister insists that the statutes must be changed. AFP wire story on the "Google News" site [Fr]
- March 29: President Nicolas Sarkozy intends to impose Emmanuel Hoog as CEO - the "Electron Libre" blog [Fr]
- March 29: Philippe Micouleau is thinking of dropping out of the race to be AFP CEO - LeFigaro.fr [Fr]
- March 28: Magda Abu-Fadil on the Huffington Post AFP Rattled, CEO Quits, French Unions/Government Slug it Out (in English)
- March 29: Pierre Feuilly, head of AFP's Vienna bureau and a candidate for the top post, issues a statement to staff. Feuilly notable states that
"The fact that the main candidates are defending positions which go against a real development strategy for AFP in the long term, which necessarily implies a minimum amount of social coherence, played a role in my decision to run.
... "The various responsibilities I have held in the agency... have given me solid expertise in the complex problems that AFP has been facing for several years now: its editorial independence, its statutes, its development strategy based on our core skills, which involve news and nothing else (not including Newzwag, AFP Services, or other ruinous betrayals), subsidiaries, durable financial arrangements which imply the relationship with the state, the role of the French media, technological modernisation, catering for markets which are increasingly diversified thanks to the digital revolution, and last but not least, dialogue with the trade unions."
- March 24: Denis Hiault declares his candidacy The head of AFP's London bureau tells the French weekly "Challenges" that he would seal a "new pact" with the regional and national press. [Fr]
- Article in the "Electron Libre" blog, dated March 23: "AFP deprived of change ...Candidates for the CEO's job expect guarantees from Nicolas Sarkozy, but they aren't getting them. [Fr]"
- David Sharp, journalist and elected Works Committee representative: "A Candidacy to Defend the Company's 1957 Statutes, its Independence and Founding Principles, and the Interests of its Staff" [Eng]
- ADIAFP Association, March 30: All Candidates from within AFP Should Get a Hearing!
- Olivier Zegna Rata : Declared Candidate to Lead AFP - "Electron libre" blog, March 2 [Fr]
- Olivier Zegna Rata candidat à l’AFP - Afrik.com le 16 mars [Fr]
- The AFP "société des journalistes" (Journalists' Association, or SDJ) calls for staff to be given a voice in the choice of a new CEO. In an "Open Letter to Members of the Board" published on March 22, the SDJ noted "that Article 10 of the agency's statutes stipulates that the CEO should be appointed by the Board of Governors, without making any reference to a preselection process."
"In conformity with the statutes, and in the name of the large number of SDJ members who have expressed the wish, we ask that at the very least the elected board member representing journalists should take part in all stages of the candidate selection process," the SDJ wrote [our translation].
- French version of this page (with more information)
At Least Ten Candidates for the Top Job at AFP
As of the deadline for applications on Thursday March 25th, seven people had publicly announced their candidacies, of whom three are AFP employees
According to an AFP wire story in French, there are believed to be ten candidates in all. However the Le Figaro web site says that the new CEO may in fact be Emmanuel Hoog, the president of the French national radio & TV institute INA. He has not formally applied for the job, but is said to be favoured by the office of President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Herewith the list of the seven known candidates (our translation):
- Bernard Cottin: 56, consultant, former CEO of the NC Numéricâble cable TV company. [Who's Who file in French]
- Louis Dreyfus: 39, company director, former deputy managing director of the weekly French newspaper Nouvel Observateur, and former managing director of the daily Libération.
- Pierre Feuilly: 62, head of AFP's Vienna bureau.
- Denis Hiault: 56, journalist, head of AFP's London bureau, former AFP news manager. [Who's Who file in French]
- Philippe Micouleau: 58, banker and consultant, former CEO of the French financial news agency Agefi. [Who's Who file in French]
- David Sharp: 62, journalist at AFP since 1983, elected member of the Works Committee. [Statement in English on personal web site, with background about AFP]
- Olivier Zegna-Rata: 41, head of external relations at the Canal+ pay TV company, former head of themed channels for the publicly-owned France Télévisions broadcasting company. [Who's Who file in French]
PARIS, 24/02/2010 - 1602 - Statement by the SUD-AFP trade union:
The staff of Agence France-Presse have no reasons to mourn the departure of the CEO. Pierre Louette was:
- The CEO who tried to end the company's independence. Acting as a faithful errand-boy, he accepted a "mission" that involved demolishing AFP's 1957 statutes. In his "exciting" new job at France Télécom, he will be reunited with one of his former ministerial overseers, Christine Albanel.
- The CEO of condescension and authoritarianism: Did he really believe he could push through his damaging projects against the will of AFP staff?
- The CEO of backward-moving industrial relations: Never had staff both in France and abroad experienced such growth in job insecurity and blocked career prospects. To make things worse, M. Louette had recently announced a second successive year of a wage freeze for HQ status staff. Not to mention the difficulties experienced by freelancers and non-HQ status employees.
His resignation should provide the opportunity for a new start at AFP. Among the measures needed:
- The plan to demolish the company's statutes should be withdrawn. The necessary debate on AFP's development prospects could take place in a calmer atmosphere if that threat were removed.
- The projects contained in the "Louette Plan" that violate the 1957 statutes should be cancelled, starting with the "AFP Services" subsidiary.
- The plan to break up the Parisian editorial team by moving part of it out of the HQ building should be abandoned.
- Relations with the unions should be given a new start, with measures to end insecure labour contracts, unfreeze wages and provide the same democratic rights to all AFP employees around the world.
SUD-AFP (SUD Culture Solidaires trade union) - email@example.com - http://www.sud-afp.org - Paris, February 24, 2010
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Electing AFP's CEO: How the System Works
AFP wire story dated February 24, 2010 (our translation)
The chief executive of Agence France-Presse is appointed by the agency's Board of Governors, on which sit representatives of the French media, the government and AFP staff. The winning candidate must obtain a strong consensus, but in the event of a deadlock he or she can be elected by a simple majority of board members.
The CEO is elected for a renewable term of three years.
As laid down by Article 10 of the 1957 law which defines AFP's statutes, at least 12 of the Board's 15 members must vote in favour of the winning candidate.
If it proves impossible for any candidate to obtain the required majority after three rounds of voting, the Board is asked to choose between two candidates put forward by the Agency's Higher Council (a watchdog body made up of independent personalities, and charged with ensuring respect for AFP's statutes). In that event, the winning candidate only requires a simple majority.
Composition of the AFP Board:
- Eight representatives of the National Federation of the French Press, of whom two represent the Parisian National Daily Press Union (SPQN [Fr]), five the Daily Regional Press Union (SPQR [Fr]), and one the Union of local (department-level) dailies (SPQD [Fr]);
- Two representatives of French public TV and Radio (one of these two seats is currently vacant);
- Three representatives of the French government - one from the Media Department in the Prime Minister's office (DDM [Fr]), one from the Foreign Ministry and one from the Budget (Finance) Ministry.
- Two representatives of AFP staff.
In the event of a CEO being either unable to carry out his or her duties, or of the post being vacant, the job is carried out temporarily either by the vice-president of the Board of Governors, or by another designated board member.
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