The Council of State orders Arcom to re-examine CNews’ compliance with its obligations in terms of pluralism

The NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) took the matter to the highest administrative court in 2022 regarding the CNews channel. The Council of State rendered its decision on Tuesday February 13, asking Arcom, the media regulator, to strengthen its control over the news channel in the hands of conservative billionaire Vincent Bolloré.

In its decision, the highest administrative court “directs Arcom to re-examine within six months compliance by the CNews channel with its obligations in terms of pluralism and independence of information”according to a communicated. This decision is in line with the NGO’s desire for the regulatory authority to be more uncompromising on the counting of political speaking times, particularly with the channels of the Canal+ group.

The regulator must not limit itself to counting the speaking times of political figures to ensure respect for pluralism, the Council of State ruled on Tuesday in its decision made public. He “ judges that, to assess the respect by a television channel, whatever it may be, of the pluralism of information, Arcom must take into account the diversity of currents of thought and opinions represented by all the participants . to the programs broadcast, including columnists, hosts and guests, and not just the speaking time of political figures”.

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Concerning the independence of information within the channel, the Council of State adds that Arcom must ensure this. “taking into account all of its operating conditions and the characteristics of its programming, and not just from the sequence of an extract from a particular program”.

“Great victory” and “historic decision” hailed by RSF

RSF’s lawyer, Mr.e Spinosi, welcomed this decision to the World : “This is a very big victory for freedom of information and pluralism in the media. For the first time, the Council of State requires Arcom, just as we ask it, to monitor respect for pluralism on all CNews programs. »

“It goes even further by requiring the regulator to ensure that the effective independence of the channel is guaranteed with regard to the influence that its shareholders can exercise on the editorial line. Arcom’s passivity is sanctioned,” he added.

According to the lawyer“the RSF association continues to ensure that these requirements are scrupulously respected.” The general secretary of the association, Christophe Deloire, also welcomed X of this decision which represents, according to him, “a great victory for RSF but above all a historic decision for democracy and journalism”.

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The association for the defense of press freedom seized the court in April 2022, pointing out “Arcom’s inaction” confront “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”. RSF considers that CNews “is no longer a news channel, but has become an opinion media”which the person concerned contests.

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.

On the podium of news channels, CNews is second in audience at the start of 2024, behind BFM-TV, but it is progressing. Its main headliners are Pascal Praud, Christine Kelly, Sonia Mabrouk, Laurence Ferrari… The channel 16 belongs to the Canal+ group, itself controlled by Vivendi, Vincent Bolloré’s group, with opinions known to be ultra-conservative.

Arcom has already put CNews on notice several times regarding broadcast sequences, particularly regarding respect for political pluralism. RSF demands that the regulator go further and guarantee “effective control”beyond the balance of speaking times of political guests.

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The World with AFP