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Appointment of minister's wife as head of international public broadcaster criticised

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 21 February 2008 media release from the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), an IFJ regional group:

Public Broadcasting Abroad "Not a Family Business" says EFJ

Today the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the regional group of the International Federation of Journalists, condemned the decision of French President Nicolas Sarkozy to nominate Christine Ockrent, the wife of France's Foreign Affairs Minister, to head the planned French-language international public broadcaster, France Monde.

"There is no doubt about Ms. Ockrent's professional qualifications, but it is inconceivable to ask the partner of the Foreign Affairs Minister to take the lead of a global public broadcaster," said EFJ General Secretary Aidan White. "We see a blatant conflict of interest and possible suspicion of political interference, which will harm to the credibility of the station. Foreign broadcasting is not a family business."

France Monde is the future holding company for francophone public broadcasters France 24, RFI and TV5Monde. French journalist unions denounced the approach of the President, who they said "starts nominations before reflections," and has chosen a person to lead the group who is the partner of the minister representing France abroad.

According to the EFJ, this nomination could ruin the company by giving the appearance of political involvement in the broadcaster's decisions. The EFJ also said the lack of consultation with social partners representing the journalists and the community has led to this conflict with the unions and partner broadcasters abroad.

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

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