April 2015: Final act in a radical reform of AFP’s Statutes

, by Admin

On April 2, the upper house of the French Parliament gave its final reading to the "Press Sector Modernisation Bill", which among other things makes deep changes to the Statutes of Agence-France Presse.

Although the French media, along with certain AFP trade union branches, focussed their attention mainly on "governance"—a sprinkling of additional "independent figures" added to the board of governors, plus an extension of the CEO’s term of office from three to five years—the most important changes by far were those made to the agency’s mission and sources of funds.
The following is an extract from the main AFP wire story (Fr) devoted to the bill. It was translated by us, since the agency’s English service practically never covers such stories, seen as being purely of interest to French readers.

  • NB: The links in the following extract are to the corresponding articles of the Statutes, as translated and published here, and other explanatory articles on this site:

The changes made to AFP’s statutes, based on a report by the Socialist MP Michel Françaix, aim to improve governance by extending the CEO’s term of office from three to five years and strengthening both its board of governors and the higher council watchdog body.
In future, the board will have a duty to convene at least four times yearly, and will include fewer representatives of the [French] press (which are also AFP’s clients). At the same time the board must include five "personalities", appointed "on the basis of their knowledge of the media and digital technologies and their economic and management skills, at least three of whom must have significant experience at the European or the international level"
The higher council, "charged with guaranteeing the long-term existence of Agence France-Presse" and ensuring respect for its fundamental principles, gains a stronger consultative role.
The council, which will henceforth include one member each drawn from the upper and the lower houses of the French parliament, has to be consulted by the CEO before all strategic decisions, and on the draft version of each of the multi-year Aims and Means plans drawn up between the agency and the French State. It may publish its observations, and must provide an annual report to Parliament on AFP’s situation.
The new statutes also incorporate measures demanded by the European Commission in exchange for the recognition of AFP’s provision of Services of General Economic Interest, and the winding-up of a complaint filed against the agency by a German competitor.

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