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.
French telecoms operator SFR, which was acquired by the holding company of Swiss-based businessman Patrick Drahi in 2014, is losing subscribers to its mobile- and internet-based services by the hundreds of thousands. The haemorrhage threatens the future of the group, already struggling with heavy debts amid one of the toughest telecoms markets in Europe. Martine Orange analyses the cost-cutting, service-reducing strategy employed by Drahi, a champion of the technique of leveraged buyouts.