FRANCE RSF decries National Front ban on certain journalists

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the refusal by France’s National Front (FN) to let its events be covered by journalists from the news website Mediapart and the “Quotidien” current affairs programme on the TV channel TMC. RSF regards this as a violation of media freedom.

Journalists from the two news organizations discovered they had been denied accreditation when they tried to cover a two-day FN event in the southern French town of Fréjus on 17-18 September, at which party leader Marine Le Pen launched her campaign for the 2017 presidential election.

Defending the ban, the FN accused the two media outlets of treating Le Pen differently from other presidential candidates, and pointed out that Mediapart did not invite her to participate in a series of interviews with presidential candidates in 2012.

FN media spokesman Alain Vizier said the ban on these media outlets would continue throughout the presidential election campaign unless they change “their attitude towards the National Front and modify their coverage of its activities.”

“It is completely unacceptable for a political party to refuse to issue accreditation to a media outlet on the grounds that it does not like the media’s editorial line,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s Europe desk.

“Trying to blackmail a media outlet into modifying its coverage shows that the National Front does not respect one of the French republic’s fundamental values, namely, freedom of information.”

Mediapart said it has often run stories on various aspects of the FN during the past four years despite being ostracized in this manner. The Mediapart journalist who covers the FN, Marine Turchi, was able to sit in on an FN summer university event for half a day in 2014, until the organizers spotted her and threw her out.

In the case of “Quotidien,” the FN seems to have it in for the programme’s producer and presenter, Yann Barthès. When Barthes used to present the current affairs programme “Le Petit Journal” on Canal+, it was that programme’s reporters who were banned from FN events.

Reporters working for Cyrille Eldin, the new presenter of “Le Petit Journal,” were able to cover the Fréjus event.

France is ranked 45th out of 180 countries in the RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

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Updated on 22.09.2016