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CHARB'S LAW

Want to start a magazine? Move to France

Reuters/Maxim Zmeyev
A rare sight.
Kabir Chibber
By Kabir Chibber

Journalist

This article is more than 2 years old.

Starting a magazine or newspaper is hard. Many launch but many also fail amid a tough advertising environment and the tricky shift from print to digital (paywall).

But if you’re going to do it, France is now the place to be. The country has passed a law giving tax deductions on donations to media companies with less than 50 employees (link in French)—up to 50% in some cases. The law encourages the financing of an “online news service in particular,” though it states that it is motivated by giving support to print newspapers, “daily or weekly,” of which the French Senate estimates there are around 300 in the country (link in French).

The new measures come as part of a new law to modernize and diversify the French press. This will create a new category of non-profit social enterprise which is encouraged to invest in media companies (link in French) to spur the creation of new ventures. The law is reserved for political and general news, seeming to exclude more specialist subject matter—though quite how that is defined probably depends on how good your accountant is.

The new regime makes France one of the better places to start the risky business of running a small publication—especially compared with some of the alternatives. The amendment adding a tax write-off for the benefactors of small ventures has been dubbed Charb’s law, after the cartoonist (real name Stéphane Charbonnier) who had pushed for its passage but who never got to see the amendment approved—he was murdered in the massacre at Charlie Hebdo’s offices last month.

“If he had still been alive, Charb would have lifted his fist tonight,” one Communist Party official said after the measure passed in the Senate.

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