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Plan to strip broadcaster of commercial revenue promotes fears for future of public broadcasting

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a media release from the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), an IFJ regional group:

EFJ Fears for Future of French Public Broadcasting as Journalists Prepare Day of Action

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the European group of the International Federation of Journalists, today said it fears for the future of public broadcasting in France and supported the Day of action organised tomorrow to protest President Sarkozy's plan to strip the broadcaster of commercial revenue.

"Advertising will be removed but there is no guarantee of alternative sources of funding, which is a great danger for the survival of public broadcasting", said EFJ Chair Arne König.

Following the unexpected announcement from French President Nicolas Sarkozy that commercial incomes would be suppressed in public broadcasting, journalists' unions called for a day of action to take place tomorrow 13 February. Journalists want to defend the public service mission and the 16000 jobs at their broadcasters.

Sarkozy's sudden decision was made without any consultation with journalists or their unions and his new plan does not offer any proposal to compensate for the ?850 million commercial income that French public broadcasters currently receive. Today unions representatives met with the advisors of the French President and raised their concerns that to deal with the steep loss in revenue, the government may privatise of local channels, which some government officials have said could be one way to solve budgetary problems.

The EFJ condemned the unilateral approach of the French President and said that the fight of unions in public broadcasting is not just a French problem. In the UK, a struggle is going on between unions and management at the BBC as a restructuring plan at the public broadcaster is putting 3000 jobs at risk.

The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists in over 30 countries in Europe.

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