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April 9, 2015 11:10 AM   Subscribe

For the past three weeks, listeners to France's seven public radio stations have heard little other than music - even on news and speech stations such as France Info and France Inter. The longest strike in the history of Radio France is showing no sign of coming to an end, with both sides becoming more entrenched.

The debate surrounds an austerity plan by the new head of Radio France to cut 300 jobs, merge the news operations of the broadcaster's three speech radio stations, introduce shared programmes on local radio and relegate a number of niche music services to internet-only broadcasting. Radio France staff have hit back with an open letter (in French) to listeners.

The crisis at Radio France is a sign of continuing financial pressure on Europe's public broadcasters - from the ongoing debate over the BBC's charter renewal to the complete closure of Greece's ERT in 2013.

Radio France previously on MetaFilter.
posted by winterhill (10 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
All news and talk radio stations going on strike and playing only music sounds like a dream come true to me. Disclaimer: I am in the US and am speaking of news stations here, know little about the situation in France.
posted by mermayd at 12:01 PM on April 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


In 1977, when I worked as a 'wacky sidekick' to a Los Angeles 'wacky DJ' who did more talk than record-playing, it was an AFTRA union station (like almost every station in L.A.). My inflated title was "Producer", and I also screened the incoming phones and kept the commercial logs, for $1 over minimum wage. IN THEORY, everyone who talked into a microphone should've been paid AFTRA Union Scale (much more than $1 over minimum wage in L.A.), but the union looked the other way for "Producer/Sidekicks". I was one of the few who was both, and it was a relatively small station with a signal that only reached half the city. But if I'd forced the issue, I'd have just lost access to the mic, and 'wacky DJ' would've used the newscaster's intern for sidekicking. Thus, I had the proud honor for one year of my radio career of being "the lowest paid radio personality in L.A." Hollywood Unions: Protecting Nobody Important Since 1935.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:27 PM on April 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the post; I wouldn't have known anything about this. (Like mermayd, I enjoy the idea of stations playing only music.)
posted by languagehat at 3:15 PM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


My god, but the French have style.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 4:48 PM on April 9, 2015


All news and talk radio stations going on strike and playing only music sounds like a dream come true to me.

Having listened to commercial American radio stations, I know what you mean. That said, believe it or not, publicly-owned radio broadcasters like France Inter and the UK's BBC Radio 4 offer a wonderful menu of programmes that include interviews, chronicles, reportages, reviews and documentaries that encompass science, economics, finance, philosophy, health, history, the arts and a whole lot more as well as news.

Although under threat, publicly-owned broadcasters such as the UK's BBC and France's Radio France must be defended.
posted by Mister Bijou at 10:16 PM on April 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


> Although under threat, publicly-owned broadcasters such as the UK's BBC and France's Radio France must be defended.

I think they raise the bar for the commercial competition, too. Here in Britain, I'm sure our commercial AC networks Heart, Magic and Smooth Radio would give even less of a shit than they do now if they weren't pitted against a behemoth like BBC Radio 2. Likewise the top-40 stations Capital and Kiss, and BBC Radio 1.

Having said that, I think there's a discussion to be had over future funding for public radio. This is perhaps going off on a tangent a little, but I think that local independent broadcasting in particular is under threat right now - community radio, small commercial local radio that's been broadcasting for years. There's a definite case for some money that's currently allocated to the huge public radio broadcasters going to these outfits, in exchange for some kind of performance guarantee (they'll spend the money on local journalism and speech, for instance).

Right now, community radio is just about treading water and keeping the lights and transmitters on. From first-hand experience, I know that most community radio stations' resources are predominantly spent on fundraising and ad sales to keep the station going rather than on programming, output, training, or anything else. Imagine what they could be doing if they had even 1% of the current BBC licence fee to share. In France, this already happens - class A noncommercial radio stations are entitled to government money. But that's another topic entirely!

Thanks to the magic of AM radio, I can pick up France Info and France Inter in the car here and I've also been enjoying the French music! But Mister Bijou is right - the output of Radio France, the BBC, Deutschlandfunk etc is not even remotely similar to the ranting US commercial talk stations during normal programming.
posted by winterhill at 1:29 AM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


My favorite station is France Musique, they play a lovely range of classical music (that includes contemporary "classical" and jazz). Their Facebook page has always been informative, and these past couple of years they've talked about cuts to funding that, more recently, led to conservatory funding being cut. Nice's conservatory is among them: no more scholarships for Nice's music students.

Today they posted about the number of music festivals that have had to be closed (supprimé, meaning permanently) or cancelled (annulé, presumably "just" this year, but possibly for good). The map includes festivals as well as organizers and associations that have had to shut down... it is very depressing.

sorry for the big seemingly-"content" edit but my browser borked the original
posted by fraula at 2:27 AM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


it is very depressing.

Merde. That is depressing, very depressing.
posted by Mister Bijou at 2:41 AM on April 10, 2015


If you look closely, you also see that it's not just music festivals :( I hadn't realized it until finally having time to look at places I know – no more Festival de la BD à Nîmes, no more Galerie du Conseil Général in Avignon (that includes the castle there...!!!), no more Festival International d'Art Singulier in Aubagne, no more Voix du Gaou in Six-Fours, no more Festival National du Film à Hyères (wtf omg au secours)...
posted by fraula at 2:44 AM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have to talk to my dad about this. He mainlines France Culture, and listens to a lot of the other ones as well. His adolescence and young adulthood was lived in France and Radio France has helped him feel connected to the country he lived in for a decade and a half.
posted by Kattullus at 7:34 AM on April 10, 2015


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