French watchdog to balance out Sarkozy's airtime

22nd July 2009, Comments 0 comments

From 1 September any interview or speech by the president will balanced out with extra airtime for the opposition.

Paris – France's broadcasting watchdog on Tuesday announced an overhaul of airtime rules to take President Nicolas Sarkozy's many media appearances into account and boost coverage of the left-wing opposition.

Up until now, the CSA watchdog made sure that equal television and radio airtime was given to the ruling party and the opposition but the French head of state, considered above the political fray, was not included in the equation.

Opposition leaders had complained that Sarkozy's media-savvy style of government, with the president giving regular television interviews, debates and speeches, had made the old rules irrelevant.

Under the new CSA system, from 1 September any interview or speech by the president on everyday domestic politics will be added to the tally of the majority -- and balanced out with extra airtime for the opposition.

Presidential comments on matters judged by the CSA to be of higher national interest would continue to be excluded however.

The main opposition Socialists' leader in parliament Jean-Marc Ayrault welcomed the decision, saying it would end "a democratic anomaly" and that "the president is not a figure removed from the political fray".

The French president's office also welcomed the CSA's move saying "it is a step towards improving the quality of democratic debate and towards an open and faultless democracy".

AFP / Expatica

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