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Fabrice Fries

Fabrice Fries

Chairman & CEO of AFP

Highlights of 2018

In 2018, AFP refocused its strategy around one single, but massive, priority: developing our image products, especially video. Our aim is that by 2023, images (photo and video) will generate 25 million euros in additional revenue and make up 50 percent of the Agency's sales, compared to 39 percent in 2018.

This strategic refocusing is due to the immense appetite for images, which have become the entry point for information and no longer just a way to illustrate the news. Our new strategy has led to accelerated investment in video, as shown by the opening of a third Master Control Room in Washington, which along with our facilities in Hong Kong and Paris, now means the Agency can compete with the best when it comes to "live" coverage.

Images enabled AFP sales to return to growth in 2018 (+ 3.2 %), snapping the constant downward trend seen since 2014. AFP is already widely recognised for its photo product and now has a video service that can totally compete with its main rivals and which is winning market share everywhere in the world due to the strength of the Agency's global network and the quality of its production.

The other striking event of 2018, both from a strategic and sales point of view, has been the development of our "fact-checking" service. This has reinforced AFP's public interest mission and also opened up new revenue streams thanks to the development of a commercial relationship with Facebook. The Agency showed how flexible it can be by creating an impressive firepower in the space of just one year - 40 experts appointed for fact-checking in April 2019, covering around 20 countries. AFP has the ambition to be a global reference in terms of the fight against fake news.

Text remains the spine of the Agency but the crisis in the news market has got worse everywhere in the world. This has pushed several media to reduce costs and remain very prudent in terms of their outlook for 2019 -- including AFP which in 2018 settled on the principle of a voluntary redundancy plan. The adoption of a directive on neighbouring rights, which AFP battled hard for in 2018, is a welcome signal that online information could possibly win back its real value and gives all European media the hope that the proceeds currently enjoyed by the big platforms will be better shared.