At the National Assembly, the management of Canal+ defends CNews, “a news channel”, and accepts the “excesses” of Cyril Hanouna

In an often tense atmosphere, the deputies of the parliamentary committee on the allocation of DTT frequencies interviewed, Thursday February 29, the management of the Canal+ group and star presenters from CNews, such as Pascal Praud, Laurence Ferrari and Sonia Mabrouk.

There was particular discussion of the decision of the Council of State of February 13 asking Arcom, the media regulator, to strengthen its control over the news channel in the hands of conservative billionaire Vincent Bolloré, who must be heard by this same commission in mid-March. For the administrative judge, the regulator must not limit itself to counting the speaking times of political figures to ensure respect for pluralism but must “take into account the diversity of currents of thought and opinions represented by all the participants in the programs broadcast”.

“If the rules change, we will comply. We will be attentive and curious to know the terms”notably assured the CEO of the Canal+ group, Maxime Saada, for whom “France would undoubtedly be the only democracy in the world to start tracking journalists and editorial writers”. “I would not like to be in Roch-Olivier Maistre’s place”, the president of Arcom, he quipped. The CEO also announced, unsurprisingly, that his group would once again “apply for all of your pay and free channels on TNT”while frequencies come into play.

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Saying very “respectful of the decision of the Council of State”presenter Laurence Ferrari, also highlighted her “concerns regarding the implementation of the regulation of the speaking time of our guests and their labeling”. “We are not fools and we know very well that a channel is targeted in the first place”she continued, referring to CNews.

Pascal Praud defends CNews’ “pluralist exchanges”

Questioned several times by the deputies to know if CNews was a news channel – as required by the agreement signed with Arcom –, or if it had transformed into an opinion channel by favoring on-set debates , Mr. Saada stressed that in 2023 “on average, every day, more than 5.7 million viewers” watched CNews. “There is no doubt in the public’s mind and in my mind that CNews is a news channel”, defended Mr. Saada. For Pascal Praud, “If you just be factual and a news reader, people, you’re not going to teach them anything.”. “So we must effectively provide them with a perspective, a decryption, an analysis or even controversy, why not, which precisely allows for a pluralistic exchange”added the presenter of “L’Heure des Pros”.

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Before the deputies, the CEO of the Canal+ group, Mr. Saada, also recognized that the broadcasts of host Cyril Hanouna on C8 could produce “overflows” but, he assured, “It’s a risk we take”. “What makes Cyril Hanouna successful is his nature, his spontaneity” And “this can give rise, when we are live, to excesses” leading to sanctions from the media regulator, Arcom, he added. “When we are sanctioned, we comply with the sanction”, underlined the boss of Canal+. The rapporteur of the commission of inquiry, Aurélien Saintoul (La France insoumise, Hauts-de-Seine), then commented: “Arcom fines are not dissuasive”.

A “technical error” after the distribution of a controversial infographic on abortion

The program “Touche pas à mon poste” (TPMP) by Cyril Hanouna – who himself must be heard on March 14 by the parliamentary committee – has earned C8 numerous warnings and sanctions from Arcom in recent years , for a total of 7.5 million euros. Including a record fine of 3.5 million after Mr. Hanouna insulted the “rebellious” MP, Louis Boyard (Val-de-Marne) during a broadcast in November 2022. “A disproportionate sanction”, estimated Mr. Saada. Gérald-Brice Viret, general director of Canal+ France, in charge of antennas and programs, made a point of “put into perspective” these sanctions, ensuring that on “8,000 hours of live per year, we have less than 0.05% of sequences that are contentious”.

Members of the management of Canal+ and CNews were also questioned about the broadcast on Sunday of an infographic making abortion the “leading cause of death in the world” during the religious program “In search of spirit”. The channel then apologized, pleading for “technical error”. Denouncing a “horrible, despicable presentation of abortion”the president of the parliamentary committee, Quentin Bataillon (Renaissance, Loire), asked Serge Nedjar, general director and editorial director of CNews, “where did it crash?” What have you put in place since then to prevent this from happening again? »

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In response, Mr. Nedjar mentioned a ” trauma “a “unacceptable error especially since it was a recorded program” two days before its broadcast. According to the general director of CNews, a “second version” of the show had been reworked ” mounting “ the day before its broadcast without this sequence. “It is this second version which should have been broadcast but at that time, there was a technical problem which meant that this “V2” did not enter the distribution pipelines (and) the people concerned returned the first version which was the one we obviously wanted to ban”defended Mr. Nedjar, specifying that a “investigation is ongoing”.

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