Court raps French radio for firing satirists

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French national radio was slammed Friday by a labour court for firing one of the country's most popular satirists and ordered to pay him 212,000 euros ($290,000) compensation.

Stephane Guillon, whose breakfast show on the France Inter channel savaged politicians including President Nicolas Sarkozy, was dismissed last June after months of repeated run-ins, along with his colleague Didier Porte.

"If humour is reduced to insult I cannot tolerate it for others or for myself," said the head of Radio-France, Jean-Luc Hees, at the time, saying that he no longer accepted "to be spat on, on air".

The court considered that the dismissal was "without real or serious cause, and that the conditions of his contract required him to have been accused of a fault, which the management was careful not to do," Guillon's lawyer Olivier Schnerb told AFP.

He said the compensation awarded was fully in line with Guillon's demand.

"As a staffer who was kicked out, I am delighted with this legal decision. As a tax-payer I am scandalised that a state-owned authority was prepared to lose so much money and so many listeners to shut me up," Guillon said in a statement sent to AFP.

France Inter declined to comment.

The scathing tongue-in-cheek attacks on the country's leaders as well as against radio management by the two humourists made waves across the political scene.

Guillon called opposition Socialist leader Martine Aubry "a fat little tobacco pot," derided Immigration Minister Eric Besson's "chinless" physique and his "Mata Hari" political switch from left to right, and ridiculed International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Sarkozy, who appointed Hees, called Guillon "insulting" and "vulgar," and radio unions and opposition politicians charged that the two satirists were sacked at the president's behest that .

© 2011 AFP

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