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French TV hit by strikes

Staff are protesting against President Macron's plans to abolish the country's licence fee, as well as plans to merge a number of public service broadcasters into a single company

Staff at a number of French TV and radio stations have walked out on strike today to protest at plans to abolish the country’s TV licence fee and fund public media broadcasters through general taxation.

The unions say the government’s plans will undermine the independence of public service media and could lead to budget cuts.

Among the stations hit by the strike are France 24, France Info and Radio France International.

France’s President Macron has previously said he intends to abolish the country’s licence fee, which funds TV, radio and online programming. The annual €138 charge generates over €3 billion annually to pay for France Médias Monde, France Télévisions, Radio France, Arte-France and INA (Institut national de l’audiovisuel).

Staff are also worried about plans to merge the public service broadcasters into a single company called France Médias.

Those on strike will hold a protest today, marching from the Montparnasse Tower to the National Assembly in Paris.

“Public sector broadcasting employs not only tens of thousands of people in the audiovisual sector in France but also commissions a large majority of films and programming made by independent producers,” said William Maunier, general secretary of SNRT-CGT Audiovisuel, and president of the European sector of UNI Media, Entertainment and Arts.

“But this is not just a question of jobs or funding, it is about maintaining the independence of French media, it’s about the plurality of programming and it’s about our cultural diversity. Public broadcasting serves all parts of society and that is what we are fighting for.”