The difficult status of France 24 correspondents abroad

For Anne-Fleur Lespiaut, life as a France 24 correspondent in Mali suddenly ended on March 22. While the military in power had just suspended the broadcasting of the RFI channel and radio (two entities of the public audiovisual group France Médias Monde) in the country, the management in Paris asked her to leave Bamako, where she had settled. end of 2020. Since several months, the young woman paid the price for the deterioration of diplomatic relations between Paris and Bamako, where she was publicly described as “persona non grata in the service of French propaganda media”. Since her return, she has faced other worries. “I am dry, France 24 has not maintained my salary”, deplores the 28-year-old journalist, who had nevertheless been assured of the contrary.

Read also: In Mali, the French media RFI and France 24 permanently suspended

In fact, contractually, nothing obliges France 24 to honor this promise. Like the overwhelming majority of the 160 correspondents of the public channel, Anne-Fleur Lespiaut is actually considered a service provider, paid not directly by the channel but by one of the 47 subcontracting production companies. Despite the “guaranteed minimum amount” that France 24 paid every month to the company that employed it in Bamako, Hemisphere Media Production Africa (HMPA), its director Patrick Fandio considered that it was “responsibility” of France 24 to compensate Anne-Fleur Lespiaut, and not his own, as he wrote in a statement released after being implicated in an article in the Chained duck. Contacted, Patrick Fandio sent us back to this text. On May 10, he announced to the channel that their collaboration would end in December.

Unforeseen expenses

“Anne-Fleur was not our employee”, responds Loïck Berrou, deputy director of France 24 in charge of magazines and reports. Privileged interlocutor of correspondents, the journalist defends a system “which allows France 24 to have a network that holds up, and correspondents to earn a good living”. An appreciation that not all of those we interviewed share. “Several of us had to give up our status as freelancers (therefore also payment in salary, and obtaining the press card)to found our companies and be paid on invoice, explains a journalist who prefers to remain anonymous for fear of losing his only source of income. We therefore do not contribute to social security for our pensions, we are not entitled to maternity leave, unemployment benefits or severance pay if we are fired. » Everyone can contribute to the CFE (the Caisse des Français de l’étranger), but some say they cannot afford it: not only do incomes differ according to workloads and the areas covered, but the cost of living n is not the same all over the world. “There are also people for whom this system is suitable”, recalls a figure of the antenna, which however pleads for its improvement.

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