Social Europe - Supplement


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New technologies in printing and publishing
Information technology and telecommunications



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New technologies in
printing and publishing
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS This publication is also available in the following languages:
DE ISBN 92-826-0720-8
FRN 92-826-0722-4 ,
The information contained in this publication does not necessarily reflect either the position or views of the Commission
of the European Communities.
Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1 989
© ECSC-EEC-EAEC, Brussels· Luxembourg, 1989
Reproduction is authorized, except for commercial purposes, provided the source is acknowledged.
Catalogue number: CE-NC-89-006-EN-C
ISBN 92-826-0721-6
Printed in Belgium CONTENTS
Editorial 1
New Technologies and Innovations in the Press 3
Technological Development and its Impact on Working
Conditions in the Newspaper Industry 13
Computer-Aided Printing and Publishing: Overview of
National Reports 17
Belgium 61
Denmark 79
Federal Republic of Germany 95
Greece 11
Spain 123
France 139
Ireland 15
Italy 167
The Netherlands 17
Portugal 195
United Kingdom 20
Selected Bibliography 219 1 -
In 1986, the problems posed by the radical technological changes which
have been taking place in the printing industry were the focus of public
attention. These changes have already taken place, or are currently
taking place, in the newspapers of all countries. Generally speaking,
however, their implementation has not been so spectacular as they have
been spread over a long period of time and, in some cases, have been
managed in a smooth way through consultation and agreement.
Although the newspaper is one of the most commonplace goods consumed by
large numbers of people every day, we hardly ever pause to reflect on the
highly complex process involved in its production. For most readers, a
newspaper is characterized by its content, i.e. by the intellectual work
embodied in the product; fewer people are probably aware that the physical
process of newspaper production is rather complex, that it involves a
large number of workers and that it is currently undergoing major changes.
Printing is a very old technology and the history of the development of
printing techniques, which is briefly outlined in the overview to the
national reports, shows a fascinating mix of ancient techniques which have
evolved over the centuries and the breakthrough of information technology.
So far, information technology has chiefly affected the inputting and
editing of texts, by enabling journalists to type in their articles
directly and editing work to be performed by means of the computer, and
the composition phase. More stages of the process will be squeezed out as
second-generation systems become more widespread. Changes are taking
place also in the broader printing sector: with a personal computer and a
good-quality printer, institutions and companies can produce their printed
texts in-house, but on the other hand 'instant print shops', which are a
new category of small firms, are making their appearance on the market. 2 -
All this is having a major impact on the structure of the sector and on
employment. As an old and long-established industry, printing and the
press used to be characterized by a group of workers, almost exclusively
male, with specific skills who enjoyed relatively good terms of employment
and working conditions. With technological change eliminating certain
parts of the production process, some occupational groups are bound to
disappear altogether. The most outstanding case is that of linotype
workers, who were first retrained to operate typesetters and subsequently,
with direct inputting, became no longer necessary in the process.
Even where this did not cause major disputes, the displacement of the
workers concerned was only postponed by agreements which temporarily
forbade direct inputting by journalists. Nevertheless, in the long run,
the disappearance of occupational groups which are no longer necessary as
such is inevitable. Eventually, despite agreements reached in a number of
countries to broaden job content and retrain redundant workers, a certain
degree of wastage could not be avoided. Early-retirement schemes were
largely used to reduce employment.
The implementation of the transition process is another issue that makes
the printing industry interesting to analyse: a broad spectrum of
solutions emerges from the experience of the different countries, ranging
from acute and long-lasting disputes to collectively agreed and smoothly
managed transition arrangements.
The articles in this supplement describe the experiences of the Member
States in this sector; they are preceded by a presentation of two studies
carried out at European level by the FAST programme and the European
Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions
Jean DEGIMBE 3 -
The press sector appears particularly representative as regards the
introduction and utilization of New Technologies in Information and
Communication (NTIC). As both a supplier and consumer of information it
constitutes, in a certain way, a point at which the effects felt on both
supply and demand are brought to bear.
In addition to the primary consideration of the development of employment
(certain jobs have almost totally disappeared - the correctors, for
example) and the content of the work (the work of the compositors has been
totally transformed and that of the journalists has undergone major
changes), there is also the question of the process of innovation which we
would like to consider in the light of studies carried out on this subject
within the framework of the FAST programme.
Prospects for communication
This question of the process of innovation should obviously be considered
in a broader context characterized by a number of developments affecting
the communication sector as a whole. Let us briefly review these
Technological development may be summed up in just four words:
electronization, computerization, digitalization and opto-electronization
as they apply to communication activities as a whole. The first two are
already familiar concepts which we will not consider further on this
occasion. Digitalization is the process permitting all information
(voice, data, text, picture) to be coded in the same form, that is, as a
series of digits in the same way as computing data. This various
information can then be transmitted on a single network. Finally,
opto-electronization is the process of transmitting information by means
of luminous rather than electric pulses. In this way the network
transmission capacities are increased and, in addition to other forms of information, animated pictures (video) can be transmitted on interactive
networks (operating on a two-way system as opposed to the one-way
distribution networks).
With the advent of these networks of the future there will cease to be any
distinction between different forms of information, thus serving to
promote integration of the communication sub-sectors. This integration is
already apparent between telecommunications and information technology; we
will soon probably also see audio-visual techniques and the mass media
coming together in a similar way.
The disappearance of internal frontiers between communication sub-sectors
is in fact being accompanied by the disappearance of external frontiers;
this is, however, primarily the result of the increasing commercialisation
of communication: the data banks are replacing the libraries, pay TV is
expanding along with pay training, etc. The actors in the field of
communication are therefore increasing but originating from a variety of
sources: financiers, owners of data banks, service companies, etc.
Increasing commercialisation and the growing number of actors, with
increased competition as a consequence, are part of a progressively
emerging picture of transnationalisation of communication (cross-border
flows of data, worldwide networks, etc.) and of the communication industry
(concentration at world level of the majorn companies).
Until recently, and without being totally excluded, the press remained
relatively untouched by some of these developments, in particular as
regards integration with other sub-sectors and transnationalisation (with
the notable exception of the press agencies, of course). The emergence of
transnational multi-media groups (Murdoch, Maxwell, etc.) and the
involvement of press enterprises in telematics wherever the opportunity
arises (Minitel in France, for example) does however show that these
trends are at work in the press where they are destined to assume
increasing importance in the future.