'Paris Match' journalists angered by Cegetal ad supplement

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PARIS Journalists at French newsweekly Paris Match are fuming over a 36-page advertising supplement for mobile phone operator Cegetel that was distributed in the magazine's Nov. 23 issue.

Editors, photographers and reporters at the respected French magazine have accused management of blurring the line between editorial and advertising content with the supplement, which imitates the unique design and style that have made Paris Match a leading light of the French press for nearly a century.

The supplement was planned earlier this year to commemorate the 10 millionth customer at Cegetel, a joint venture mobile and fixed phone operator run by U.K.based BT and French media giant Vivendi.

The advertising supplement reads like "Paris Match," with art and photo-heavy stories on Cegetel's daily operations, crisis management, technology and longterm strategy for taking on existing and future competitors in the French telecom sector.

Some journalists say the newsy approach violates the longstanding rule against favoritism toward advertisers. In-house critics also wonder whether the estimated $500,000 in ad revenues linked to the supplement will not be overshadowed by negative feedback and lost confidence on the part of readers.

Paris Match Managing Editor Alain Genestar has acknowledged these criticisms, and promises greater coordination between editorial and advertising staff before similar operations are allowed to go further in the future.

Paris Match has an audited paid weekly print run of more than 620,000 copies, while the print run for the Cegetel supplement reportedly topped 800,000 copies

Copyright November 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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