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Paris headquarters of AFP
Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a Frenchmarker news agency, the oldest one in the world, and one of the three largest with Associated Press and Reuters. It is also the largest Frenchmarker news agency. Currently, its CEO is Pierre Louette and editor-in-chief Nicolas Miletitch.

AFP is based in Parismarker, with regional centres in Washingtonmarker, Hong Kongmarker, Nicosiamarker, São Paulomarker, Montevideomarker and bureaux in 110 countries. It transmits news in French, English, Arabic, Spanish, German, and Portuguese.


The agency was founded in 1835 by a Parisian translator and advertising agent, Charles-Louis Havas as Agence Havas. Two of his employees, Paul Reuter and Bernhard Wolff, later set up rival news agencies in London and Berlin respectively. In order to reduce overheads and develop the lucrative advertising side of the business, Havas’s sons, who had succeeded him in 1852, signed agreements with Reuter and Wolff, giving each news agency an exclusive reporting zone in different parts of Europe. This arrangement lasted until the 1930s, when the invention of short-wave wireless improved and cut communications costs. To help Havas extend the scope of its reporting at a time of great international tension, the French government financed up to 47% of its investments.When German forces occupied France in 1940, the news agency was taken over by the authorities and renamed the French Information Office (FIO); 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 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.

In 1982, the agency began to decentralize its editorial decision-making by setting up the first of its four autonomous regional centres, in Hong Kong. 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 French government announced moves to change AFP's status, notably by bringing in outside investors. On November 27, the main trade unions represented in the company's home base of Francemarker - the CGT, Force Ouvrière, SNJ, Union syndicale des journalistes CFDT and SUD, launched an online petition to oppose what they saw as an attempt to privatise the agency.


AFP is a government-chartered public corporation 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:

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. By statute, AFP’s mission is to report events, free of “all influences or considerations likely to impair the exactitude” of its news. And “under no circumstances to pass under the legal or actual control of an ideological, political or economic group.”

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.


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.
  • SID:
Sport-Informations-Dienst (SID) is producing a German-language sports service.
  • Citizenside:
In November 2007, AFP announced its investment in Scooplive, a news photo and video agency online, created in France in 2006. Scooplive became Citizenside after this investment.


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