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On television, the lack of debate penalizes political programs

The LCI network with in particular

Are the French interested in the presidential election of April 10 and 24? By shortening its first-round election night for the first time to 9:20 p.m., to program in stride VisitorsTF1 gives a first hint of a form of weariness. “The uses, tastes and expectations of viewers have evolved”, justified the head of information, Thierry Thuillier, to AFP. C8 drove the point home, simply renouncing the two presidential evenings promised by Cyril Hanouna. While news channels, radios and digital platforms (like Twitch or Instagram) compete for candidates, major political parties are struggling to do well.

It must be said that the context does not help. In 2017, the campaign was driven by the Fillon affair and the dazzling emergence of Emmanuel Macron. This time, she was shaken by the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. “The public is not as enthusiastic as five years ago. The political offer is not up to par. There is this impression that the match is already over, not to mention criticism of the media themselves.analyzes Claire Sécail, media historian and researcher at the CNRS.

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Corollary of this phenomenon: the hearings are running out of steam. In “Elysée 2022”, March 3 on France 2, Marine Le Pen attracted only 1.89 million viewers (9.1% audience share), much less than the 3.4 million people of ‘five years ago. The program “La France face à la guerre”, on March 14 on TF1, where eight candidates for the supreme magistracy answered questions from Anne-Claire Coudray and Gilles Bouleau, convinced 4.21 million people, against 9.8 million viewers for the debate five years ago, when five candidates competed. There are not many prime times that gather so many people on a Monday evening »replies Thierry Thuillier.

“Meetings with the French have a “fake” and worn-out side. The experts give an impression of themselves. The only format that works, in the end, is the debate., analyzes Gaspard Gantzer, former head of the press for François Hollande, now at the head of a communication agency. Except that the confrontation between candidates is a rare value on television sets.

“We work on a case-by-case basis, depending on the subject”

Until 2017, this genre was reserved for the in-between rounds. Five years ago, TF1 innovated: François Fillon, Benoît Hamon, Marine Le Pen, Emmanuel Macron scrapped on the set. It’s a cardboard. Five years later, the contenders for the Elysee Palace do not really want to repeat the exercise, or at homeopathic doses, only if their score in the polls requires it. “When we offer this format to candidates, they are more or less inclined to do it, they don’t have this practice”, recognizes the director of information of France Télévisions, Laurent Guimier.

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