French Senate examines concentration of media ownership in the country –

The state of the concentration of media ownership in France, the evolution of the situation and the lessons to be drawn from it will be analyzed by a new commission of inquiry created by the French Senate on Thursday, November 18. EURACTIV France reports.

The list of 21 senators who will be part of the new commission has also been announced, with Socialist Senator David Assouline as rapporteur.

According to statement of reasons, the legislator is responsible for “shedding light on the purchasing and consolidation conditions which have led to this highly concentrated press and audiovisual landscape”.

the request was formally tabled on October 27 by the Socialist Group in the Senate, which decided to use its annual right to demand the creation of a commission of inquiry or a fact-finding mission.

The commission of inquiry is one of the tools of parliamentary control, and people called to testify must respond to the summons from lawmakers. They are also heard under oath, which means they risk perjury if they give false testimony.

According to the senators, “the political and general information press is now in the hands of a small number of businessmen and companies whose main activity is often far removed from the world of information and its principles ”.

They cite the Altice group, currently founded and owned by Patrick Drahi, which also owns the newspapers Liberation, L’Express, the broadcaster BFM TV and the radio RMC. The senators noted Xavier Niel, owner of Le Monde and various ramifications, and numerous regional press titles. Vincent Bolloré, boss of the Vivendi group, which owns Canal + and CNews, and has just taken control of Europe 1, Journal du Dimanche and Paris Match, was also mentioned.

Bolloré is regularly criticized for his methods, which Reporters Without Borders describes as “brutal” and for “mechanisms for controlling and intimidating journalists”.

French billionaire Bolloré represents a “real danger” for press freedom

The practices of businessman Vincent Bolloré represent “a real danger for press freedom, but also for democracy”, according to a documentary entitled “System B” broadcast Thursday by the NGO Reporters Without Borders and shared on social networks.

The documentary denounces “brutality …

Invited to “Senate Stream” program, Socialist Senator Patrick Kanner declared at the end of October that he wanted this future commission of inquiry to question the businessman.

“At a time when the GAFAM [ed.: Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft] are increasingly involved in the global media and content market, it seems important that at national level, France can continue to offer its viewers and readers diversified and independent media and press offers ”, also said lawmakers.

The legislator will also look into the proposed merger between the TF1 and M6 groups, which raises “legitimate questions” in the context of media pluralism and competition rules. The advertising market share of this future juggernaut is estimated at 70%.

This sensitive antitrust case encountered opposition from the President of the Competition Authority, Isabelle de Silva. Despite her growing prestige as a competition regulator, De Silva was not reconfirmed for her tenure, which expired in October. This led to speculation that the decision was linked to divergent views with the French executive on the TF1-M6 merger.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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