Politically charged CSA choice stirs Gaul

Toulouse mayor chosen to head France's broadcasting authority

PARIS — Longtime Toulouse mayor Dominique Baudis was appointed Wednesday by conservative President Jacques Chirac to head France’s broadcasting authority, the Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA), for the next six years, replacing outgoing chief Herve Bourges, who steps down Jan. 23.

While the appointment of the conservative mayor did not come as a surprise, it has created a stir in political circles at a crucial time in which the authority and its new chief will oversee the move to digital terrestrial TV.

Neutrality issue

The ruling Socialists have protested the appointment of a politician to the job. Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande warned the choice would “politicize an organization that is supposed to be neutral.”

The CSA has sweeping powers over the TV and radio biz in France. It appoints the CEOs of public TV and radio, hands out broadcasting licenses for private stations, monitors the quota system of French and European music on the airwaves and can levy fines, reduce broadcasting time or withdraw licenses.