Sarkozy picks head of public television
French President Nicolas Sarkozy drew fire from opponents on Monday for personally picking the new head of France's public television company, having changed the law to allow himself to do so.
Sarkozy named Remy Pflimlin, 56, currently head of the press distribution company Presstalis, to lead France Televisions, which includes two of the country's main terrestrial channels, France 2 and France 3.
Members of the opposition acknowledged that Pflimin has long experience in the media industry but expressed irritation at the mere fact that Sarkozy had taken it on himself to name him.
"The naming of the president of public television by the chairman of the republic is the crowning of a process of putting France Televisions under political and financial control," said Socialist Senator David Assouline said.
Socialist media affairs spokesman Patrick Bloche warned: "Doubt will hang over all choices taken by the new chairman, linked to him being directly nominated by the president of the republic."
Heads of France Televisions were previously chosen by an independent regulator, the CSA. Last year, Sarkozy passed a reform allowing the president to nominate public media bosses.
In May 2009 he picked the head of Radio France, which has drawn criticism in recent weeks for sacking two comedians who had lampooned Sarkozy and other various political figures on the left and the right.
The SNJ national journalists' union said those sackings "showed the limits of the independence of leaders named by the president of the republic."
The head of private radio station Europe 1, Alexandre Bompard, had been considered an early favourite for the job of television chief but fell out of the running after criticism that he was too close to Sarkozy.
Sarkozy has often been accused of interfering in the media. Last month he publicly opposed a bid by three businessmen to take over leading French daily Le Monde.
© 2010 AFP