August 1, 2021

The Council of State rejects an appeal from Canal + against a decision of the CSA

In a decision of June 16, the Council of State rejected an appeal by the Canal + group against a decision of the Superior Audiovisual Council (CSA), the audiovisual regulator, against its news channel CNews after comments by Eric Zemmour deemed violent.

In December 2019, the Superior Audiovisual Council (CSA) sent a formal notice to CNews, asking it to respect its obligations, in particular in terms of incitement to hatred and violence, after comments by its star Eric Zemmour.

Eric Zemmour’s slip

During the program “Face à l’Info” of October 23, 2019, the polemicist had assimilated Islam and Islamism, before evoking the conquest of Algeria by France in the 1840s by saying to himself, as a French, “On the side” of General Bugeaud who, when he “Arrives in Algeria, (…) begins to massacre Muslims and even some Jews”.

Upon the announcement of the formal notice of its news channel, Canal +, a subsidiary of the Vivendi group, owned by the group of billionaire Vincent Bolloré, replied that it wanted to file an appeal for abuse of power with the Council of State, considering this formal notice “Unjustified” and “Contrary to the principles of freedom of expression”.

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“The CSA did not make an incorrect application of the powers” that he holds, estimates the Council of State. “It did not disproportionately affect the free communication of thoughts and opinions (…) nor, in any event, ignored the objective of constitutional value of pluralism of currents of thought and opinion”, sues the highest administrative court. In addition, “The company operating an information service is not justified in requesting the annulment of the formal notice it is attacking”, she notes.

A formal notice from the CSA constitutes a serious warning. It can precede, in the event of repeated breaches, a sanction which can range from the temporary suspension of a program to a withdrawal of the authorization of the channel, passing by fines or deprivation of advertising screens.

Two formal notices in a few months

CNews was fined in March from the CSA of 200,000 euros for “Incitement to hatred” and “To violence” after another slip by Eric Zemmour on unaccompanied minor migrants.

It was again put on notice on June 12 on its obligations in terms of pluralism for having given too much voice to a candidate of the RN in the regional elections compared to the other lists.

Read also CNews formal notice by the CSA for breach of its obligations in terms of political pluralism

The World with AFP