French turn out en masse for politicos

Gaul's webs benefit from political slanging match

PARIS — A record peak of 23.1 million French viewers tuned in to the live televised debate featuring France’s presidential candidates, Socialist Segolene Royal and right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy Wednesday (May 2) night.

But as the audience was spread over two TV channels, TF1 and France 2, which aired the debate simultaneously, the figure was less than TF1’s all-time ratings topper.

That honor is held by last year’s World Cup semi-final between France and Portugal, which peaked at 22 million viewers.

Audience for Wednesday night’s two hour, 40-minute long talkathon averaged 20 million.

Around 13 million watched on TF1 while 7 million tuned in to pubcaster France 2.

The presidential race, to be decided in a second round vote Sunday May 6, has been a consistent ratings booster for all of Gaul’s webs.

“Interest is high because there is a sense that this is a turning point for France,” said TF1’s political service topper Francois Bachy.

The debate provided some entertaining moments as underdog Royal bared her teeth and intimidated the usually combative Sarkozy.

But opinion was divided over who actually “won” the confrontation – apart from the broadcast webs, that is.

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