French radio loses sense of humour, fires satirists
French national radio Wednesday sacked two of the country's most popular satirists, under fire for months for savaging politicians across the board on the country's top current affairs programme.
Two million listeners regularly tuned in to France Inter for the fierce breakfast show satires delivered by Stephane Guillon and Didier Porte, fired by management after months of repeated run-ins.
"If humour is reduced to insult I cannot tolerate it for others or for myself," said the head of Radio-France, Jean-Luc Hees, adding that he no longer accepted "to be spat on, on air".
"France Inter, a leftwing radio that fires like the worst rightwing company," Guillon said in his final sketch."
The scathing tongue-in-cheek attacks on the country's leaders as well as against radio management by the two humorists have caused wave upon wave across the political scene.
Yet Socialist leader Martine Aubry, not long ago dubbed "a fat little tobacco pot" by Guillon, on Wednesday defended their right "to mockery and even to outrage."
Last month another Guillon attack on Immigration Minister Eric Besson's "chinless" physique as well as his "Mata Hari" political switch from left to right led radio boss Hees to offer the minister "the apologies of the public group."
Last year Guillon upset International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, also a Socialist, by mocking his reputation as a womaniser only minutes before an angry Strauss-Kahn went on air.
President Nicolas Sarkozy, who appointed Hees, has called Guillon "insulting" and "vulgar".
With the next presidential election two years away, France's Greens party said "the great pre-election clean-up has begun. This measure shows the authorities are tougher against free-thinkers than against tax fraudsters."
© 2010 AFP