Friday, May 29, 2009

The blind is leading the blind

A couple of days ago I wrote a post in French about a well-known France 2 political TV show. At first I didn’t think about translating that post because I believed only the French would find it interesting anyway. But then I thought that it might be interesting for other nationals to see what’s happening in the countries they don’t know the language of. So here you go, welcome to the world of French TV debates!

The other day I was watching the well-known French political TV show Mots croisés, broadcast by number one public channel France 2. The show is in two parts, each dedicated to one topic. Unsurprisingly, the debate on the European elections was number 2, starting at 11pm, when most French people go to bed. Needless to say, you had to be highly motivated to follow that debate at such a late hour.

I was happy to see that Jean Quatremer -the Brussels correspondent of the French daily newspaper Libération- was invited. When questioned on his first impressions of the campaign so far, he pointed out that European elections suffered from a real deficit of media coverage, and the fact that the Mots Croisés debate started at 11pm was a good example of it. He didn’t get the chance to finish making his point as the host, Yves Calvi, flushed with anger, interrupting him to say that he had a lot of nerve saying such thing in his show, which was allocating 45 whole minutes to the debate on the European elections. Sic. A first debate on the European elections just two weeks before the vote at 11 pm on a week day. And knowing that the campaign on the presidential election starts over a year before the vote. Obviously, there is still a lot of progress to be made.

Yves Calvi added that France 2 has a very European-minded editorial team, which regularly broadcasts reports on European themes, and that France 2 is in fact the only French channel to have a permanent office in Brussels. Fair enough. However, considering that reports on European topics are not broadcast before the 19th minute of the 8-o’clock news, even in official campaign time -as I pointed out in a previous post- one can’t help but think that, despite Yves Calvi’s vindications, we still have a big problem, don’t we?

Jean Quatremer remained calm and polite. He managed to add that reports on European matters still only accounted for 2% of all news in the French media. So France 2’s editorial team might be the most European-minded of all, I still don’t think one should boast about something that is far from being satisfactory.

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