New AFP chief wants big video push
Fabrice Fries, the new head of Agence France-Presse, said Thursday he wants to increase revenue by 30 million euros ($35 million) over five years by rapidly expanding its video production.
He said boosting video coverage was the priority for AFP -- one of the world's big three news agencies -- particularly in the United States, where he hopes to grab market share from rivals The Associated Press and Reuters.
Fries, who became CEO in April, wants half of the agency's revenue to come from photos and video by 2022 compared to 39 percent now.
Despite the expansion plans announced in his "roadmap" for growth, Fries, 58, the former chief of French communications company Publicis Consultants, warned that AFP had "two or three difficult years ahead".
He told the company's ruling body that without corrective measures it would dip into the red next year after making a small operating profit in 2017.
Rising payroll and other costs across its international network would leave AFP needing 21 million euros in extra financing in 2019, he added.
As well as the push to increase revenue, Fries has launched a study into the possible sale of the agency's central Paris headquarters.
But he said a move to another site in or around the French capital would only go ahead if it would bring together staff currently spread between two buildings and be financially beneficial.
AFP grew out of Agence Havas, the world's first news agency, founded by Charles Havas in 1835.
Today it counts some 2,300 staff including 1,500 journalists, serving media clients around the world as well as in France as the country's national news agency.
AFP is supported financially by the French state, but its editorial independence is guaranteed by an act of parliament.