As in the best series, the final episode of the Senate commission of inquiry into media concentration brought the tension to its climax on Tuesday, March 29. “It was quite virulent”assures Monique de Marco (EELV). “The atmosphere was a bit bellicose”testifies Evelyne Renaud-Garabedian (LR). “We were on the verge of a clash”recognizes Jean-Raymond Hugonet (LR).
The session, which began with a scathing charge by elected LRs against the 358-page report, ended, about six hours later, with a unanimous vote on 32 proposals. In the meantime, three of the tracks formulated by the rapporteur David Assouline (PS) had disappeared, while the ten amendments and clarifications wanted by the elected LRs had appeared.
To reach this consensus, the senators decided not to overturn the table, while the 1986 law on the freedom of communication is considered obsolete and the industry is upset by the merger TF1-M6 as well as by the takeover of Lagardere by Vivendi. “There is a connection, and it was not obvious, rejoices the chairman of the commission, Laurent Lafon. The extremely important point is to reinforce the place and the quality of the information. It is a strong democratic issue. »
“A form of balance has been found on the regulation”
Among the safeguards aimed at preserving information, the senators would like, for example, that media groups have an independent administrator to ensure the independence of editorial staff and conflicts of interest. It would be in connection with Arcom (ex-CSA). Another proposal: strengthen ethics committees. Born with the Bloche law of 2016, of limited effectiveness, they could in the future inform the regulator of any breach.
Senators suggest reviewing press aid based on financial status of group holding titles
On the other hand, the LR senators obtained the deletion of a proposal intended to grant journalists the possibility of opposing the sale of their media (by a two-thirds negative vote), as well as two amendments intended to strengthen the powers of Arcom. “A form of balance has been found on the regulation”, assures Laurent Lafon. Proposal n° 24 should moderately please TF1 and M6: it would be a question of imposing on audiovisual groups a minimum investment in information, a system modeled on the obligations of investment in production.
Beyond the audiovisual sector, the senators suggest reviewing aid to the press according to the financial situation of the group which holds the titles, and granting a bonus to those who will best guarantee their independence. All of these 32 suggestions could be the subject of a “great debate in Parliament” in the course of 2022, so that the government advances on the follow-up it intends to give them (proposal 29).
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