Free French daily 20 Minutes has dropped the Agence France-Presse news service, Le Monde reported. The paper's CEO Pierre-Jean Bozo tried to negotiate a lower price with the French national news agency but failed, and 20 Minutes now subscribes to Reuters' French wire.
Le Monde quoted AFP's commercial director Erik Monjalous who said that the paper and the agency had been in discussions for two years but that the AFP could not go below a certain price.
The price of an AFP subscription is "hundreds of thousands of euros" and based upon circulation, Le Monde explains, which is high for free papers: 20 Minutes gives out about 700,000 copies a day.
Reuters presumably offers a cheaper deal. But 20 Minutes journalists have protested at the move, and Le Monde quoted an editor who said that the Reuters feed is "much lighter" and that the journalists feared not being able to tackle big stories at the time of going to press.
Other papers that have ended their subscriptions with AFP include regional publication La Provence, which decided to drop the service in June 2009 after realizing that it used only 20 dispatches per day for an annual cost of 550,000 euros. As noted by Newspaper Innovation, the cost of the AFP newswire is subsidised heavily by the French state, so it is considered relatively inexpensive.
As some newspapers struggle with falling profits, will more try to find ways to drop agency services? Using agency copy can be a way for a paper to save money, but the price has to be right. Over in the US, several papers in Ohio stopped their subscriptions to the Associated Press and decided to share content between themselves.
Agence France-Presse recently announced that it hopes to create mobile applications, following in the footsteps of the AP and Reuters which already have apps for iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry. This move encountered protest from some of its clients, as the AFP has traditionally had no direct contact with consumers, always going through clients or hosting services. Mobile technology has sparked a change in this process: what will it mean for the evolving relationship between news agencies and newspapers?