France taps Tasca as new culture minister

Trautmann let go after not protecting b'casting bill

PARIS — Catherine Tasca was named France’s new culture and communications minister Monday in a government reshuffle.

Tasca takes over from Catherine Trautmann, relieved from her duties on the eve of broadcasting reforms that have been two long and painful years in the making.

The changeover came as no surprise in broadcasting circles, where the French government’s disappointment over Trautmann’s performance had for some time fueled speculation over how long she would keep her job.

Diluted bill

Prime Minister Lionel Jospin’s chief complaint was Trautmann’s failure to stop opponents from chipping away at his government’s broadcasting bill. Meant as a radical reform that would curb the power of the big private companies in French television, the bill will be enacted in a considerably watered-down form.

Central to the bill, which had its second reading in parliament last week, is the creation of a super holding company, France Television, to oversee pubcasters France 2 and France 3 and regulate the transition from analog to digital terrestrial TV.

Familiar face

Tasca, 58, is already known to the French broadcasting world, having served as communications minister from 1988-91, when Culture and Communications were separate portfolios. She also established the Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel, France’s first nonpolitical broadcasting watchdog.

Unlike Trautmann, whose affinities lay elsewhere, Tasca has strong ties to the arts. Her friends include composer Pierre Boulez, whose 75th birthday concert she attended last week, and film and theater director Patrice Chereau.

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