• Short Summary

    The French Prime Minister, Mr. Jacques Chirac on Tuesday (July 23) opened the debate on?

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    The French Prime Minister, Mr. Jacques Chirac on Tuesday (July 23) opened the debate on the Government Bill to dismantle ORTF, the state controlled television and radio organisation and told deputies: "We want a free and democratic radio and television, which are the property of no one, subject to no private interest, but at the service of the nation as a whole".

    Only July 17 the French Government approved a bill splitting up the monolithic state broadcasting system, making each of France's three television channels into a separate state firm which will compete with others.

    As M. Chirac addressed the National Assembly large numbers of ORTF workers demonstrated against the bill.

    The broadcasting unions fear redundancies, and allege the bill could result in increased state control of information. They are critical too of the speed with which the measure has ben brought forward.

    "The Government wants to kill off ORTF. This change will cause numerous redundancies, and result in total control of information by the state", said M. Jean Le Garrec, Deputy General Secretary of the United Socialist Party. M. Michel Jobert former Foreign Minister said on Tuesday he was afraid the reorganisation would open the door to private ownership of radio and television.

    But during Tuesday's debate M. Chirac said he believed that state monopoly is the best guarantor of the independence of a public service.

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