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“The public audiovisual industry does not have to exist”

By Jean-Philippe Delsol; lawyer; president of the Institute for Economic and Fiscal Research (IREF)

In France; public broadcasting is very important: France Télévisions; which has four main channels (2;3;4;5) in addition to the channels abroad; Arte; Radio France (France Inter; France Info; France Culture; France Musique; France Bleu…); France Médias Monde (International Radio channels France; France 24 and TV5 Monde). Thisjournaltimees at a significant cost to taxpayers.

Radio France; France Télévisions and France Médias Monde; Eric Zemmour observes; is 3;600 million euros; more than the cost of the prison administration (3;300 million). It proposes to privatize two general television channels: France 2 and France Info TV; as well as three radio stations: France Inter; Mouv and FIP and to transfer others to the regions: France 3 and France Bleu. At the same time; it would abolish the public tax that costs € 138 per year for each household and constitutes the main resource of this public sector. Marine Le Pen has expressed her wish to privatize Radio France and France Télévisions. Valérie Pécresse made it known that for her it was not a taboo.

Proponents of public broadcasting argue that it guarantees neutral information based on “The balance of all political sensitivities; restraint and independence;” as he says Jean-Louis Missika in a Note written for Terra Nova in October 2021. Mathieu Gallet; former head of Radio France; adds that the public service “Enlighten citizens when they vote by explaining social and historical issues while the opinion media have gained enormous weight”. Except that the general opinion is recognized that the public audiovisual mainly expresses opinions that go from the center left to the extreme left. It is therefore a very oriented neutrality!

Of course; we can understand that in the past the State wanted to have an information channel to transmit its messages. But is it still useful in today’s internet age? And why so many public media? The United States does not have it; if not very marginally; and it does not need it to be the world’s greatest power. France defends the idea that public media have less advertising; but the difference is very small and is not worth € 138 per year. The French Constitution protects “Freedom; pluralism and independence of the media”; But don’t expect the media to be public! By granting public service journalists the status of public officials; the State prevents them from being fired or punished when they do not respect – and it is customary – the principle of neutrality. But the public media are also media that run the risk of falling under the control of power as in Russia or Belarus; Poland or Hungary; which is no better.

It is all the more appropriate to wonder about the existence of public media as funding by Royalty bjournaltimees problematic. Until now; it was collected at the same time as the housing tax. But M Macron has eliminated this tax. The collection of the Royalty bjournaltimees; therefore; very expensive in proportion to its product. Its gross ijournaltimee was € 3.8 billion in 2019; but recovery and relief costs accounted for around € 600 million.

While the number of French who own a television decreases every year and that private channels have shown qualities at least equivalent to those of the public; why should the State continue to spend public money to finance media whose public character is no longer justified; if it ever has been. The idea that the state takes care of the audiovisual entertainment of the French is outdated and dangerous. It would be better to privatize public media and reduce regulations and taxes that harm French television and productionjournaltimepanies to allow them to launch real platforms capable ofjournaltimepeting with Netflix; HBO Max or Disney. What the public service is incapable of; as witnessed by the already half-aborted adventure of France Television in the capital of Salto.

Jean Philippe Delsol


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