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Le Figaro (France)

le_figaro_01Based: Paris

Founded: 1826

Circulation: 321,500 (2006)

Owner: Socpresse (since March 2004 80% owned by Serge Dassault)

For half a century after World War II, France’s oldest national daily enjoyed a comfortable existence as the voice of the conservative middle classes. But by 2004 circulation had fallen to the point where the paper needed to be bailed out in order to keep going. In that year the parent company, Socpresse, was acquired by the arms manufacturer Serge Dassault. Despite having pledged not to interfere in Le Figaro’s editorial content, Mr Dassault lost no time in issuing a warning to journalists not to publish stories that could harm France’s commercial interests. The paper was relaunched with a new design and in a slightly reduced format in October 2005.