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Journalism Government

Sarkozy’s Bid to Bottle Up the Media

Television, courtesy of dailyinvention/flickr

Perhaps Nicolas Sarkozy has always been a political figure excessively focused on publicity, ratings and the attention of the media. Yet, as of late President Sarkozy has started to open up about his ambitions of becoming the puppeteer of the French media landscape, grasping for control of some of the most influential institutions of the French press.

In short, President Sarkozy tried to become the majority shareholder of Le Monde (a renowned newspaper), he changed the law in order to be able to appoint the director of France Télévisions (the publicly-owned syndicate who, among others, controls France 2 and France 3), and he might be able to exert direct influence on Agence France-Presse (the third largest news agency in the world) if the latter successfully turns into a public firm.

It seems legitimate to ask whether France is currently going through a similar process of centralization of media control as Italy under Berlusconi. Despite all the evidence suggesting that this is the case, the situation in France is still different. While major parts of Italian media remain under the direct control of Berlusconi, the French media is dominated by small parts of the French establishment instead. Unlike Berlusconi, Sarkozy is not (yet) a majority shareholder of any private media companies and as the Guardian notes, he relies on a powerful network of close friends who are instead.

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Uncategorized

The ISN Quiz: Françafrique

In our latest Special Report we explored the past, present and future of French ties to its former colonies in Africa. Where does your knowledge on the topic stand?

[QUIZZIN 28]

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Uncategorized

Françafrique: The Ties That Bind

France maintains close links with its former African colonies, photo: Dezz/flickr
France maintains close links with its former African colonies, photo: Dezz/flickr

The Franco-African relationship is alive – but is it well? This week the ISN takes a closer look at France’s postcolonial ties with its former African colonies 50 years after independence.

This ISN Special Report contains the following content:

  • An Analysis by Jennifer Brea about the unique colonial and postcolonial history between France and its former African colonies that shapes relations to this day.
  • A Podcast interview with Dr Elisio Macamo examines what he perceives as a French withdrawal from francafrique.
  • Security Watch articles about the burgeoning drug trade in West Africa and the threat that corruption and graft hold over many francophone African countries.
  • Publications housed in our Digital Library, including US Congressional Research Reports on the influence of the ICC in the former French colonies and Guinea’s new transitional government.
  • Primary Resources, like French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s infamous 2007 address at the University of Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal.
  • Links to relevant websites, such as FRANCE 24’s look at each of the 17 sub-Saharan African nations that gained independence in 1960.
  • Our IR Directory, featuring the locally based International Relations Institute of Cameroon.
Categories
Foreign policy

ISN Weekly Theme: French Foreign Policy

Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, photo: Chesi- Fotos CC/flickr
Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, photo: Chesi- Fotos CC/flickr

Nicolas Sarkozy, two years into his office as president, continues to chart a bold, if unfocused course in French foreign affairs. Although rhetoric has so far been stronger than action, Sarkozy has forged warmer ties with the US, assumed an active role in regional crisis management and pushed for further European integration. And with the Lisbon Treaty ratified Sarkozy seems to have gotten what he wanted on this crucial front.

Categories
Journalism

Press Freedom is a Luxury

Silenzio. Press Freedom under Fire in Italy, photo: Zingaro. I am a gipsy too/flickr
Silenzio. Press freedom under fire in Italy, photo: Zingaro. I am a gipsy too/flickr

Not many countries on Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index 2009 have reason to celebrate. The index sees many countries like Iran and Israel, quite predictably, slip as a consequence of protests, wars and crackdowns in the past year.

While it may not be a surprise that reporters in conflict zones or in countries that are slipping deeper into authoritarianism face severe restrictions and harassment, countries that have always prided themselves on their freedom and openness are slipping down the ranks at an alarming rate.

As the accompanying analysis suggests, several EU members, most notably France and Italy, have slipped down the index and now find themselves ranked in places 43 and 49, respectively, well below countries like Jamaica, South Africa, Mali, Uruguay and Macedonia; countries that may not always have been associated with the concept of free press. In Berlusconi’s fiefdom this is no surprise, but why is France almost as badly off as Italy? And, one might add, why is Spain ranked just one below France at place 44? What is wrong with the grand old dames of Europe?