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Farewell to the Roger-Viollet press agency (1938-2019)


This November 15, 2019, the Council of the City of Paris voted the death of the oldest photo agency in Paris, Roger-Viollet agency. Unfortunately, the disappearance of this agency founded in 1938 has hardly moved the world of the press and publishing. Gamma, Sygma, Rapho and dozens of other photo agencies have already disappeared in favor of large US stocks.

It was 11 am that morning of November, when, despite the intervention of several elected opposition groups to the municipal majority, were passed two decisions: the concession to the company NDLR, better known as , the marketing of the Roger-Viollet and France-Soir funds, and the closure of the Parisienne de Photographie news agency, which has been managing the Roger-Viollet funds since 2005.

The municipal majority on the left saves face by adopting the creation of a “supervisory committee” where staff representatives will sit to ensure that the twelve employees of the Parisienne Photography will not be fired … It remains that on the 35 redundancies already operated in the last two years at the Parisienne de Photographie, only three people have found a job.

The choice of the company NDLR facing the Meeting of National Museums (NMR) is simple to understand. The prospect that the museums and libraries of the City of Paris will soon adopt the “open content”, that is to say the free availability of images has tipped the balance for NDLR, which seems  after the deliberations to accept it! The fact that a private company that does not file its accounts has been preferred to a public state institution remains a mystery.

Another mystery, it seems that the elected officials of the city did not inquire why eleven initial candidates to this concession, including well known local press agencies (Sipa, Abaca, AKG, Gamma-Rapho, etc.), and managing large funds, have thrown in the towel. Yet among these candidates, there was for example Gamma-Rapho who manages millions of images, including those of Keystone, and publishes positive accounts!

Another curious point: the Parisienne of Photography was losing a lot of money, but no one elected noted the fact that at its creation the City of Paris had over done it! The Parisienne de Photographie had to save and digitize the funds in addition to their commercialization, that is to say that the City had gotten rid of the tasks incumbent upon her and which have now been taken over by the City Historical Library. Paris (BHVP). Today, NDLR inherits a turnover of slightly more than one million euros and a grant of 482 000 € without backup or scanning fees. Hope this will allow it to survive in a market in full revolution!

Michel Puech



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