France counts around 200 news agencies whose huge majority is small scaled and specialised in delivering a niche of news editorials or photos (sports, fashion, ecology, etc.) to their clients (public bodies such as state, ministries, administration or private firms, association) in a plurality of formats (editorial, figures, maps, photos, videos, etc.). Nearly half of them are part of the Fédération Française des Agences de Presse (French Federation of Press Agents - FFAP), a union that represents, promotes, and defends the national interests of their members. As an example RelaxNews was launched in 1998 in Paris and delivers leisure and lifestyle news content to media and companies; it has been acquired in 2015 by the French worldwide advertising company Publicis. Sparknews was created in 2012 to promote and deliver positive news and solution journalism.
The Agence France Presse (France Press Agency - AFP) is the successor of the news branch of the French Havas agency, the first news agency created in the world, in 1832. The AFP is one of the three leading worldwide news agencies (with AP and Reuters). Its 1957 legal status requires the AFP a complete neutrality and even objectivity in selecting, writing, and delivering news to their clients. It de facto operates as a monopolistic agent on the French market since the attention of hard news journalists is primarily focused on the AFP wire; consequently AFP journalists remain the main triggers and providers of basic news delivered by mainstream news media. In addition AFP is subject to criticism because of its enduring strong ties with state and politics. Nominations of management and newsroom executives as well as its politically oriented policy are regularly a topic. As an illustration in 2010 the European Commission criticised AFP for nearly 40 percent of its turnover came from subscription by State bodies but was reported as a disguised financial subsidy.