Freedom of the press: for Memona Hintermann “the counter-powers of the CSA are too weak”

the essential The 4th European Press Days opens today in Toulouse. Press freedom will be at the heart of these meetings in which Memona Hintermann, senior reporter, member of the Superior Audiovisual Council from 2013 to 2019 will participate. Interview.

Journalist, you sat for six years on the Superior Audiovisual Council. Your report on freedom of the press today?

I watch a number of channels and the press more broadly across Europe. If the situation is worrying in Poland and Hungary or in southern Europe, it is also worrying here in France. Written press, radios, TVs: nine billionaires whose main activities are armaments, construction, luxury goods and telephony now dominate the French media while information is not their profession, their primary objectives remaining profit, certainly, but just as much the networks of influence.

More precisely ?

This concentration in a few hands is a threat for democracy on two counts. It indeed questions the freedom of expression that journalists can have within these groups but also feeds the growing public mistrust of information, despite the professionalism of the editorial teams who want to continue to do their best. profession, which does not confuse citizens and consumers. What independence do the editorial staff have when the news affects the interests of the shareholder or when the shareholder plays his own political card against republican institutions? This question now sums up the problem, in France as elsewhere when we know the influence that had the media of Rupert Murdoch in the Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.

What power does the CSA have in the face of this threat?

The checks and balances of the Superior Audiovisual Council are too weak in the face of the current situation and it also lacks support at the top of the State and in Parliament. The audiovisual law has been patched up more than 80 times since 1986 and it absolutely no longer responds to today’s challenges, the CSA, for example, being powerless in the face of social networks and their dissemination of fake news. A solid reform is therefore essential, but the chain owners are in no hurry to see it begin. This would however be the occasion to remind them that they are only “tenants” of the frequencies that the state grants them and that it is therefore the citizens who, in absolute terms, remain owners of the airwaves used by their groups. This should never be forgotten in the debate.

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