Public TV, radio staff strike over advertising ban
French public radio and television staff went on strike Tuesday as the National Assembly prepares for debate on advertising ban on public television.
26 November 2008
PARIS – French public radio and television staff went on strike Tuesday to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy's plans to scrap advertising as part of a broader reform of state broadcasting.
Listeners to France Inter radio tuned in to their regular programmes to find it was airing music while shows on France Televisions' five channels were disrupted.
Unions representing France Televisions' 11,000 employees called the strike on the day the National Assembly was to begin debate of a bill overhauling public broadcasting.
The midday news programme was cancelled on France 2, and France 3 broadcast footage instead of some regular news shows during the day.
Some 40 percent of television staff had walked off the job by midday, a spokeswoman for France Televisions told AFP.
Sarkozy announced earlier this year that he wanted to scrap advertising on public television, a decision criticised as a revenue boon for private broadcasters such as TF1, owned by Martin Bouygues, a friend of the president.
Under the bill, advertising on public television would not be allowed after 8:00pm from 2009 and would be entirely banned from January 2012.
The French government has said it will offset the loss of revenue from advertising with additional funds.
The legislation would also give the government authority to directly name the head of France Televisions, scrapping the current appointment procedure through an independent body.
Debate in parliament is expected to be raucous, with some 850 amendments to the bill already presented.
The leader of the Democratic Movement opposition party, Francois Bayrou, said parliament should present a no-confidence motion in government over the bill that "sets us back 30 years".
A vote on the bill is scheduled for 9 December.
[AFP / Expatica]