French Senate to look into concentration of media ownership in the country –

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

The list of 21 senators who will participate in the new commission has also been announced, with socialist senator David Assouline as rapporteur.

According to statement of reasonsthe legislator is responsible for “shedding light on the conditions of purchase and consolidation that 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 make use of its annual right to request the creation of a commission of inquiry or an information mission.

The commission of inquiry is one of the tools of parliamentary control, and the people called to testify must respond to the summons of the legislators. 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, founded and currently owned by Patrick Drahi, who also owns the newspapers Liberation, L’Express, the BFM TV channel and RMC radio. The senators noted Xavier Niel, owner of Le Monde and various branches, and numerous regional press titles. Vincent Bolloré, the owner of the Vivendi group, which owns Canal+ and CNews, and which has just taken control of Europe 1, the Journal du Dimanche and Paris Match, was also mentioned.

Bolloré is regularly criticized for his methods described as “brutal” by Reporters Without Borders and for his “mechanisms of control and intimidation of journalists”.

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

The practices of businessman Vincent Bolloré represent “a real danger for freedom of the press, 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 the “brutality…

Invited to the “Senate Stream” programthe socialist senator Patrick Kanner declared at the end of October his wish that this future commission of inquiry questions the businessman.

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

Legislators will also consider the proposed merger between the TF1 and M6 groups, which raises “questions of legitimacy” in the context of media pluralism and competition rules. The advertising market share of this future behemoth is estimated at 70%.

This sensitive antitrust case ran into opposition from the head of the competition authority, Isabelle de Silva. Despite her growing prestige as a competition regulator, De Silva was not reconfirmed for her term, which expired in October. This led to speculation that the decision was linked to differences of opinion with the French executive on the TF1-M6 merger.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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