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A Paris newstand
A Paris newstand

Some of France’s most popular publications are taking a tough new stance against ad blockers, the name given to software that strips advertisements out of web pages.

Geste, a trade group representing these publications, as well as the web sites of radio and television stations, has launched a new initiative designed to remind readers that news gathering isn’t without cost, and removing ads from web pages undermines management’s ability to pay those costs.

Some members of the group, such as LeMonde, have chosen to notify readers, when they attempt to log on, that the only way the publication can afford to serve them and pay its 400 reporters is through ad sales. Readers are then allowed to log on as usual.

Others take a more hardline approach. Before logging on to read at L’Equipe, a sports news service, and Le Parisien, a general news outlet, visitors are required to disable their ad-blocking software.

Neither of these strategies are new. The Washington Post last year began intermittently redirected visitors to a subscription page if tried to log on while using ad-blocking software. Forbes tried a similar strategy. The core issue is that some in online media have predicted that ad blocking could eventually kill the sector.

Legal challenges have been tried but at least in the United States, they have failed to stop the companies producing ad- blocking software.

Some companies have tried to work with the ad-blocking companies. Last year, it was reported that Google, Microsoft and Amazon are among the companies that pay ad-blocking software firms to leave their ads alone.

Whatever happens, it’s likely to be a rough ride for news outlets. People hate ads; the distraction, the way they slow the loading of pages and the kind of dubious ways advertisers collect info on readers is spooky.

Ad blocking is just the latest reason for publications to find alternative revenue streams to advertising. But what?

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