Law on murder of Armenians prompts attack on French biz

PARIS — The Turkish broadcasting authority called for a boycott of French TV programs Thursday as a heated political row between the countries over the mass killing of Armenians nearly a century ago spilled over into the TV biz.

The authority “recommended” that Gallic shows stay off the air in Turkey until France drops draft legislation that would make it a crime to deny that the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915-17 amounted to genocide.

Turkey has accused France and its sizable Armenian-origin population of trying to scupper Turkey’s bid to join the European Union and attacking free speech.

If the new law takes effect — it has passed the lower house but must be voted on by the senate — someone denying the Armenian genocide would face a one-year prison term and a fine of up to $56,000.

France already has a similar law regarding the Holocaust.

Turkey is not one of French TV exporters’ biggest clients in monetary terms — the market was worth around E1.8 million ($2.25 million) in 2005 — but Turkish TV channels do air a lot of Gallic programming, especially cartoons.

Michele Massonat, head of international sales and marketing at youth programming specialist Dargaud Distribution, said Thursday, “The prices aren’t very high, but almost everything we produce or distribute sells to Turkey, which makes it a not insignificant territory for us. Hopefully this will all settle down soon.”

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