French TV unions call for walkout

Employees protest Sarkozy's plan to ax ads

In an unprecedented move, all eight unions representing staffers at France Televisions have called for a one-day walkout on Feb. 13 to protest President Nicholas Sarkozy’s plan to ax advertising on the pubcaster.

On that day they will hold a demonstration in front of the National Assembly and presidential residence, the Elysee Palace.

Jean-Francois Tealdi, an inter-union spokesman, said that “given the consequences of the proposed changes in the method of financing of public broadcasting and the risks arising from decommissioning” of certain services, there was a “definite need to call employees to mobilize.”

The unions’ call to action is in response to sweeping proposals put forward by Sarkozy and other government members, including the elimination of paid advertising from all public channels and the restructuring of longstanding regional broadcasting arrangements on the France 3 network.

Sarkozy has offered reassurances that there would be “no change in the scope” of France Televisions. He has also said lost advertising revenue would be “fully offset” by increased taxes on France’s commercial TV broadcasters, and possibly an increase in TV licensing fees.