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November 10, 2005

French TV Exec Admits To Censoring Riot Coverage For Political Reasons

Interesting:

One of France's leading TV news executives has admitted censoring his coverage of the riots in the country for fear of encouraging support for far-right politicians.

Jean-Claude Dassier, the director general of the rolling news service TCI, said the prominence given to the rioters on international news networks had been "excessive" and could even be fanning the flames of the violence.

Mr Dassier said his own channel, which is owned by the private broadcaster TF1, recently decided not to show footage of burning cars.

"Politics in France is heading to the right and I don't want rightwing politicians back in second, or even first place because we showed burning cars on television," Mr Dassier told an audience of broadcasters at the News Xchange conference in Amsterdam today.

"Having satellites trained on towns across France 24 hours a day showing the violence would have been wrong and totally disproportionate ... Journalism is not simply a matter of switching on the cameras and letting them roll. You have to think about what you're broadcasting," he said.

Mr Dassier denied he was guilty of "complicity" with the French authorities, which this week invoked an extraordinary state-of-emergency law passed during the country's war with Algeria 50 years ago.

But he admitted his decision was partly motivated by a desire to avoid encouraging the resurgence of extreme rightwing views in France.

French broadcasters have faced criticism for their lack of coverage of the country's worst civil unrest in decades. Public television station France 3 has stopped broadcasting the numbers of torched cars while other TV stations are considering following suit.

"Do we send teams of journalists because cars are burning, or are the cars burning because we sent teams of journalists?" asked Patrick Lecocq, editor-in-chief of France 2.

Gee, that never seemed to give you pause when you were covering bombings in Iraq. And of course that coverage gets watched in French-speaking North Africa, and picked up by Al Jazeera.

I don't know if it's right or wrong to lay off of stuff like this when it may be encouraging more of it. On one hand, it's censorship. On the other hand, major media shouldn't allow itself to be hijacked by terrorists or rioters into becoming a propaganda tool.

I do know, however, that when it comes to terrorism in Iraq, I've never heard a French media type expressing worry that excessive coverage was encouraging more terrorism. Perhaps that wasn't a worry so much as an intention.


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posted by Ace at 02:11 PM

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