A bailout for journalism

Except it's in France:

The French state will help provide free newspaper subscriptions to teenagers for their 18th birthdays, President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Friday. But the bigger gift is for France's ailing print media.

Sarkozy also announced a ninefold rise in the state's support for newspaper deliveries and a doubling of its annual print advertising outlay amid a swelling industry crisis.

In a speech to industry leaders, Sarkozy said it was legitimate for the state to consider the print media's economic situation.

"It is indeed its responsibility ... to make sure an independent, free and pluralistic press exists," he said.

This seems like a pretty bad idea, even without considering the question of whether an industry that depends on rent seeking can be "independent, free and pluralistic." Why are all these efforts intended to keep print media profitable rather than make web media profitable? (Would subsidizing the consumption of VHS tapes be a good way to help the movie industry?) Most French teenagers can, presumably, get the newspaper for free online.