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3 Jul, 2008 01:28

Sarkozy triggers French TV revolution

France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced plans to overhaul French television. His ideas though have met with strong opposition in broadcasting circles, which accuse him of trying to take over the airwaves.

Sarkozy has not been getting on well with the media recently. Footage of him shouting at staff of the public channel France 3 has become an internet sensation.

And after it emerged that he had hired an internet monitor to track critical pieces written about him on the web, he was widely ridiculed in blogs.

Known as the ‘telepresident’ for his numerous TV appearances, Sarkozy seems just not able to keep his cool in front of a camera.

Now, a new set of decrees may mean he’ll have considerable control over what goes on behind it.

Sarkozy has announced he plans to ban advertising from state TV by 2011.

He says it’ll allow workers to focus on a better public service rather than their budgets, but many are concerned that less money may lead to fewer jobs.

When the news was released early this year, 15,000 people went on strike – the country’s biggest broadcasting walkout in more than 30 years.

Sarkozy has now declared that the head of France’s 5 state controlled channels will be directly appointed by the government, rather than an independent panel.

The decision has led to accusations that he’s trying to control what the nation watches.

“As we are in a republic, we had the habit of voting for the French TV President. It was a guarantee of independence. We consider that these proposals are a regression for the freedom of the media,” said Patric Bloch, Socialist Party MP.

State journalists have also said they’re worried the new ideas could affect their independence.

“We don’t agree with several points. We have the impression that the government wants to take control over the system. We don’t want to have to fight with our bosses. All we want is the power to express our fears about our future,” said Agnes Molinier, Head of Journalists Society.

Media workers’ fears are perhaps warranted.

Nicolas Sarkozy has spoken of plans to abolish France 24 and pool together three state-run channels to establish a French-only network.