Friday, 2 July 2010

A Thousand Protesters Outside France Inter

Yesterday 1st July a thousand people gathered outside Radio France to protest against the sacking of Didier Porte and Stéphane Guillon . The two humorists are not having their contracts renewed. Stéphane Guillon said in his penultimate “chronique” last week that he found this out by reading “Teleloisirs” a TV listing magazine, in which there was an interview with Phillippe Val the Director of France Inter.

M. Val was on the 7 to 9 sequence this morning presented by Nicolas Demorand, who is also leaving today. The only reason M. Val gave for not renewing the humorist’s contracts was that he was fed up with continually being insulted by them when he gave them every freedom.
Both of the humorists have over stepped the line between humour and good taste many times. They have also upset the politicians more than a few times, but this makes for lively radio.

Nicolas Demorand has a reputation for being a tough interviewer, but compared to the Today Programme presenters he’s a pussy cat. We don’t know whether Nicolas is leaving because he was asked to or he requested it. We do know that he will be presenting a 5pm to 7pm cultural slot on France Inter instead. So the protesters suspect political pressure from above, a possibility that M. Val, who is a smooth tongued political animal himself, was quick to repeatedly deny.

What astound me is that the bosses of France Inter did not foresee the public reaction and prepare for it in advance by leaking the news early and making announcements before the event. There is little culture of news management in France. Even senior politicians rarely use those techniques to lessen or limit the impact of their announcements, with the change in the retirement age being a notable recent exception.

I can’t decide whether this is due to arrogance, incompetence or the fact that there are elements in the culture which prefer confrontation. Perhaps it is all three!!


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