Agence France-Presse (AFP) is an international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Agence Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency, and is the third largest news agency in the modern world after the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters.
(as Agence Havas)
(President and CEO)
Number of employees
Agence France-Presse has its origins in the Agence Havas, founded in 1835 in Paris by Charles-Louis Havas, making it the world's oldest news service. The agency pioneered the collection and dissemination of news as a commodity, and had established itself as a fully global concern by the late 19th century. Two Havas employees, Paul Julius Reuter and Bernhard Wolff, set up their own news agencies in London and Berlin respectively.
In 1940, when German forces occupied France during World War II, the news agency was taken over by the authorities and renamed "Office français d'information" (French Information Office); only the private advertising company retained the name Havas. On August 20, 1944, as Allied forces moved on Paris, a group of journalists in the French Resistance seized the offices of the FIO and issued the first news dispatch from the liberated city under the name of Agence France-Presse.
Established as a state enterprise, AFP devoted the post-war years to developing its network of international correspondents. One of them was the first Western journalist to report the death of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin on March 6, 1953. AFP was keen to shake off its semi-official status, and on January 10, 1957, the French Parliament passed a law establishing its independence. Since that date, the proportion of the agency's revenues generated by subscriptions from government departments has steadily declined. Such subscriptions represented 115 million Euros in 2011.
In 1982, the agency began to decentralize its editorial decision-making by setting up the first of its five autonomous regional centres, in Hong Kong, then a British Crown colony. Each region has its own budget, administrative director and chief editor. In September 2007, the AFP Foundation was launched to promote higher standards of journalism worldwide.
In October 2008, the Government of France announced moves to change AFP's status, including the involvement of outside investors. On November 27 of that year, the main trade unions represented in the company's home base of France – the CGT, Force Ouvrière, Syndicat national des journalistes, Union syndicale des journalistes CFDT and SUD, launched an online petition to oppose what they saw as an attempt to privatise the agency.
On December 10, 2009, the French Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand announced that he was setting up a Committee of Experts under former AFP CEO Henri Pigeat to study plans for the agency's future status. On February 24, 2010, Pierre Louette unexpectedly announced his intention to resign as CEO by the end of March, and move to a job with France Télécom.
AFP is a state-owned enterprise operating under a 1957 law, but is officially a commercial business independent of the French government. AFP is administered by a CEO and a board comprising 15 members:
- Eight representatives of the French press;
- Two representatives of the AFP personnel;
- Two representatives of the government-owned radio and television;
- Three representatives of the government. One is named by the prime minister, another by the minister of finance, and a third by the minister of foreign affairs.
- Agence France-Presse may under no circumstances take account of influences or considerations liable to compromise the exactitude or the objectivity of the information it provides; it may under no circumstances fall under the control, either de facto or de jure, of any ideological, political or economic grouping;
- Agence France-Presse must, to the full extent that its resources permit, develop and enhance its organisation so as to provide French and foreign users with exact, impartial and trustworthy information on a regular and uninterrupted basis;
- Agence France-Presse must, to the full extent that its resources permit, ensure the existence of a network of facilities giving it the status of a worldwide information service.
The board elects the CEO for a renewable term of three years. The AFP also has a council charged with ensuring that the agency operates according to its statutes, which mandate absolute independence and neutrality. Editorially, AFP is governed by a network of senior journalists.
The primary client of AFP is the French government, which purchases subscriptions for its various services. In practice, those subscriptions are an indirect subsidy to AFP. The statutes of the agency prohibit direct government subsidies.
In November 2013, AFP and Getty Images were ordered to pay $1.2 million compensation to freelance photojournalist Daniel Morel for using his images posted on Twitter related to the 2010 Haiti earthquake without his permission, in violation of copyright and Twitter's terms of service.
Notable investments include:
- AFP GmbH:
AFP GmbH is the subsidiary of AFP in Germany, producing German-language services for local press, internet and corporate clients.
Sport-Informations-Dienst (SID) is producing a German-language sports service.
In 2007, AFP purchased a 34% stake in Scooplive, a citizen news photo and video agency online. Established in France in 2006, Scooplive was renamed Citizenside after this investment, but AFP soon sold its shares to news aggregator Newzulu.
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- "Full Text of AFP's Statutes in English". Agence France-Presse. June 12, 2017. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
- Ax, Joseph (November 22, 2013). "Photographer wins $1.2 million from companies that took pictures off Twitter". Reuters. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
- Laurent, Olivier (November 24, 2013). "Getty Images disappointed at $1.2m Morel verdict". British Journal of Photography. Incisive Media. Archived from the original on November 26, 2013. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
- Aubert, Aurélie; Nicey, Jérémie (2017). Allan, Stuart (ed.). Photojournalism and Citizen Journalism: Co-operation, Collaboration and Connectivity. New York: Taylor & Francis. p. 238. ISBN 1351813455.