French TV workers unite on b’cast reforms, gripes

Ad revs, prod'n investment chief concerns addressed

PARIS — Some 1,500 members of the French TV production world, including writers, directors, actors and technicians, gathered Monday to air grievances and thrash out a common position on broadcasting reforms due to go before the French parliament today.

Chief among their concerns is the fear that production will be the loser when ad revenues shrink at pubcasters France 2 and France 3 as part of an overhaul of public broadcasting.

They are also unhappy that France is lagging behind its European neighbors in TV production investment.

A spokesman for one of five unions organizing Monday’s forum said four-fifths of France’s production industry had attended and was “speaking with one voice.”

But while the right-wing daily Le Figaro dubbed the occasion “French production’s May ’68,” in reference to France’s landmark student protests, some of TV’s major decision-makers did not see fit to attend.

Jean-Pierre Hoss, head of the Centre National de la Cinematographie (CNC), Pierre Lescure, head of Canal Plus, and Jerome Clement of the Franco-German channel Arte were present, but the heads of France 2 and France 3, the pubcasters that stand to be most affected by the broadcasting reforms, were not. Culture minister Catherine Trautmann was busy opening an art exhibition in Paris and also did not attend. The industry had received an earlier rebuff when no French production won any prize in a TV festival on home turf in Rheims on Saturday.

Jury and public preferred product from Germany, Sweden Denmark and Great Britain.

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