French press review 10 March 2014
The missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing, the diplomatic deadend that is Ukraine, a bidding war in the French mobile telephone market, former president Sarkozy the victim of official and other sorts of spying, and rugby results are the stories Le Monde is recommending to any readers who might have spent the weekend on the dark side of the Moon and so missed what's been going on down here.
The Malaysian aircraft tragedy is a journalistic nightmare . . . there's no information, and endless scope for expert analysis and other forms of airbrained speculation.
Le Figaro is the only paper to give the story front page prominence, stating the rather obvious fact that human error, technical malfunction or terrorist explosion are the three possibile explanations for Saturday's sudden disappearance.
The only significant fact is that 239 people are missing, that their families and friends continue to hope for a miracle, while knowing, like the rest of us now, that this story will not have a happy ending.
Libération looks to Ukraine and what the left-leaning paper calls "The battle in the East". Now that the Crimean peninsula and its naval installations appear to have been quietly handed over to the Russians, the new front in this war of words is the line separating Russian-speaking east Ukraine from the pro-European west.
Libération warns against any simplistic reading of a very complicated situation, suggesting in an editorial that the nomination to key posts by the new authorities in Kiev of several prodigiously wealthy dudes from the Ianoukovitch era may not have been such an illadvised move.
Prodigiously wealthy dudes share an almost pathological determination to become even more so, and a civil war won't be good for business.
The mobile telephone war is about as interesting as watching granite age, but it does show that there's a surprising amount of money and energy in a sector about which many service providers have described as a financial deadend.
Basically, the 20 million clients of the phone company SFR are going to be bought over by either the tiny cable TV company, Numericable, or by the prodigiously wealthy consortium involving Bouygues and Free. Whatever way the cookie crumbles, there will be one fewer competitor on the French communications scene after the sale of SFR, and you can bet your last kopeck that phone users will be the last to benefit.
Popular daily Aujourd'hui en France points to the parallel situation in Austria where the fusion of two companies in 2012 reduced the mobile phone landscape to just three operators, and that led to a 17 per cent price increase for everybody. We have been warned.