Strikers hope to influence Senate

Staffers on Gallic pubcaster France Televisions have again gone on strike to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy’s post-8 p.m. ban on advertising on channels France 2, 3, 4, 5 and radio station RFO, which became effective on Monday.

Staffers on France 2 are not expected to report to work today, joining their colleagues from France 3 who walked out on Monday. The strikers hope to persuade Gaul’s upper house, the Senate, not to approve the amendment allowing the ban, already passed by the National Assembly on Dec. 9.

The Senate, which began debating the amendment on Wednesday, could reject it — but it’s a moot point as France Televisions has already initiated the ad ban at Sarkozy’s request.

If passed, the law will scrap ads entirely on the pubcaster in 2011.

“We won’t give up now,” said Jean-Francois Tealdi, general secretary of SNJ-CGT, the largest union in France. “Surprises have happened in the past.” Pubcaster union leaders believe the amendment could fail since it has divided folks on both ends of the political spectrum — and because Sarkozy’s right-wing political party, UMP, does not hold a majority over the Senate.

Around 40% of France Televisions staffers went on strike against the amendment on Nov. 25. According to local news reports, this protest concerns mostly local stations and suggests some 90% of regional staffers have not reported to work, disrupting programming and news coverage.

Sarkozy’s amendment will introduce a commercial-free, government-supported pubcaster model akin to the BBC in the U.K.

However, unions and the left-wing opposition argue the ban will only help commercial nets, which will benefit from the advertising boost.

They also fear it will strengthen Sarkozy’s control over the media, by allowing the government to appoint France Televisions’ topper, previously chosen by broadcasting regulator, the Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel.

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