How Libération's multi-billionaire owner bills the ailing daily for 'services'

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Much of the French media is owned by billionaire industrialists and businessmen with financial interests that sit uncomfortably with the notion of freedom and pluralism of the press, while some argue that without such wealthy proprietors many titles would fold. One case in point is France’s venerable leftwing daily Libération, co-founded in 1973 by French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and now owned by multi-billionaire Patrick Drahi who made his fortune in telecommunications. Laurent Mauduit has been studying the struggling newspaper’s financial accounts, and details here how Drahi last year billed it for 1.8 million euros for “services” by his group, which notably included “restructuring”, further aggravating its vast debts offset in part by public subsidies.

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The French press is experiencing a historic crisis as, one after the other, every newspaper that was once independent is bought up by billionaires whose very least concerns are those of press freedom and the public’s right to know.