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article imageAFP pares 2018 deficit but forecasts tough 2019

By AFP     Apr 10, 2019 in Business

Agence France-Presse made a net loss of 2.6 million euros ($2.8 million) in 2018, down on 4.8 million in 2017, helped by higher commercial receipts, but warned that 2019 will be a challenging year.

Commercial revenues rose, for the first time in five years, by 3.1 percent to 170 million euros, amid a 6.2 percent rise for the photo service while video earnings were up 11.1 percent, a board statement said.

"AFP is now solidly anchored in the world's top three video producers," the board said.

It added that increased live offerings, coupled with greater depth of coverage and fast editing had ensured that clients could now regard the agency's televisual output increasingly as a substitute, rather than a complement for broadcast news.

Revenue from video currently represents 41 percent of commercial sales, and the target is to lift that to 50 percent by 2023.

AFP, present in 151 countries, is one of the world's leading news agencies, covering the news across the world 24 hours a day in text, video, photo and graphics in six languages.

Operating margin rose 3.8 million euros to 21.2 millions euros.

CEO Fabrice Fries said the earnings were "encouraging" but warned the company had to approach 2019 with "caution" as "the crisis in the press is accelerating and will weigh on accounts.

"We are in a transition scenario where video is enjoying double-digit growth but at a lower volume than text, which is falling back," said Fries, who took up his post last year.

In January, Fries presented a revised version of his "transformation plan" to AFP employee representatives, foreseeing savings of 14 million euros on payroll costs and five million euros on other expenses by 2023.

To achieve this, management plans to cut 95 jobs including 23 journalist positions and convert 15 of the current 175 expatriate postings into local jobs, making further savings by replacing senior employees with younger ones.

Unions have expressed scepticism and warned Wednesday that the company was on a path that threatened to limit its operational capacity, which includes combatting fake news.

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