Another day in French media, another strike. TV and radio workers walked out yesterday in protest as president Sarkozy’s plan to scrap public TV advertising and replace funds with a levy on telcos, Reuters reports. Under his “policy of civilisation”, Sarkozy wants the leading two public broadcasters to emulate the ad-free BBC – but he wants to charge a 0.5 percent tax on the revenues of telecoms operators and ISPs to make up the shortfall. His UMP party will propose the bill on June 25. Two thousand protested the policy in Paris yesterday, police estimated, and TV output was affected by absent employees.
It forms part of Sarkozy’s overall media reform strategy. In December, the French Senate rejected a proposed law that would have levied a two percent tax on all French-based websites disseminating video content. And EU media commissioner Vivianne Reding has previously said media taxation “runs contrary to her vision of a Europe where borderless and inexpensive access to internet and cellphone networks was the standard”.
FT.com also does a good job of summing up the problems facing loss-making Le Monde, which is trying to reform for the digital age by shedding jobs but has also been facing its own walk-outs. Sarkozy recently said French media is “on the economic precipice” because it had failed to bring itself in to the internet age.