The European Union’s competition watchdog thinks France might be spending waaaay too much on its newswire, Agence France-Presse.
The Associated Press is (rather gleefully) reporting that the European Commission is launching an investigation into whether AFP’s $161 million in annual state funding (which accounts for 40 per cent of AFP’s revenue) is in line with the law. AFP CEO Emmanuel Hoog is worried:
“If the payments are deemed illegal, the European Commission ‘could order the immediate end to public financing … and force AFP to repay the state ‘for subsidies dating back 10 years,’ Hoog wrote to union leaders Monday. ‘This would obviously be the darkest scenario for us.'”
In proper French fashion, a strike has been planned.
“Hoog said, however, that he doesn’t expect the watchdog to make such a drastic move, saying a more likely outcome would be an order to stop future illegal payments from the state. AFP unions and management are meeting Friday to discuss the issue, and unions are calling for a half-day strike to coincide with the meeting.”
What do you think? Does AFP provide a vital public service, or does austerity demand cutbacks?
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