The highest administrative court “ordered Arcom to re-examine within six months compliance by the CNews channel with its obligations in terms of pluralism and independence of information”.
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On Tuesday, February 13, the Council of State asked Arcom to strengthen its control over the CNews news channel, in the hands of conservative billionaire Vincent Bolloré. The decision of France’s highest administrative court follows an appeal by the NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The Council of State thus orders the media regulator “to re-examine within six months compliance by the CNews channel with its obligations in terms of pluralism and independence of information”details a statement.
RSF considers that CNews “is no longer a news channel, but has become an opinion media”, which the company disputes. The secretary general of the NGO, Christophe Deloire, welcomed a “historic decision of the Council of State” For “democracy and journalism”. That “will certainly change the situation, leading the audiovisual regulator to finally be up to the challenge.”
“Honesty, independence and pluralism of information”
RSF seized the court in April 2022, pointing out “the inaction of Arcom” face “to the failings of CNews”. Before this appeal, the NGO defending press freedom had called in vain on Arcom to put CNews on notice to respect its obligations, namely “honesty, independence and pluralism of information”.
During the hearing before the Council of State on January 19, the public rapporteur, who says the law, partially agreed with RSF: he considered that Arcom had not sufficiently justified its rejection of the request for RSF.
The regulator must not limit itself to counting the speaking times of political figures to ensure respect for pluralism, ruled the Council of State in its decision made public. And regarding the independence of information, this must not only be appreciated “with regard to extracts from a specific program, but also on the scale of all the operating conditions of the channel and the characteristics of its programming”added the Council of State.