C8 and CNews: more than 40 calls to order from Arcom, half of which over the last three years

Vincent Bolloré and Cyril Hanouna must be heard at the National Assembly on March 13 and 14, 2024

C8 and CNews: more than 40 calls to order from Arcom, half of which over the last three years

Vincent Bolloré and Cyril Hanouna must be heard at the National Assembly on March 13 and 14, 2024. Before the members of the parliamentary commission of inquiry into the allocation of frequencies for digital terrestrial television (DTT) created in November 2023, the billionaire at the head of the Canal group channels and the flagship host of C8 will have to answer for compliance with legal obligations in the broadcast of their programs.

These hearings follow those of the boss of the Canal group, Maxime Saada, the management of CNews and the presenters Pascal Praud and Laurence Ferrari, at the end of February. They come at a time when the Regulatory Authority for Audiovisual and Digital Communication (Arcom), which replaced the Superior Audiovisual Council (CSA) in January 2022, has just launched calls for applications for the renewal of authorizations for the TNT, including those of the Canal group, C8 and CNews. And while these two channels have just been sanctioned again by warnings from the regulator on Tuesday March 12.

Hanouna, “person most recalled to the PAF”

In January, the rapporteur of the parliamentary commission of inquiry, the deputy La France insoumise Aurélien Saintoul (Hauts-de-Seine), had pointed out the responsibility of Cyril Hanouna, whom he described as “the person most called to order of the PAF [French audiovisual landscape]”. “The commission wants to know why the channel is not taking action regarding this host and his show “Touche pas à mon poste”! [“TPMP”], often sanctioned, details Le Monde Aurélien Saintoul. We will give them the opportunity to explain themselves. »

When breaches are reported by viewers, Arcom has several options to sanction a publisher who does not respect its obligations (pluralism of information, control of the channel, advertising, distribution, etc.).

The first step is a regulatory reminder letter. After this warning, Arcom may issue a warning, possibly followed by a formal notice and finally a financial penalty. In the most serious cases, it theoretically has the possibility of suspending the edition, broadcast, distribution of a service, a program or advertising sequences for a certain duration.

Financial sanctions only for C8 and CNews

Are the C8 and CNews channels particularly targeted by this independent authority? According to a count carried out by Le Monde, since the creation of Arcom in January 2022, it is the public service channel France 2 which has received the most warnings: five, including two for news broadcasts.

But it is the CNews and C8 channels of the Canal group which have the most warnings (six in total) for programs dealing with current affairs. The three which concern C8 all target the program “TPMP” by Cyril Hanouna, warning for failure to comply with the requirement of honesty and rigor in the presentation and processing of information, non-compliance with the rules relating to methods of affixing youth signage and lack of control of the antenna.

Concerning formal notices, the operator and publisher Eutelsat is in first place, with three Arcom decisions against it since January 2022, in particular for broadcasting Russian channels or those close to the Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas. In second row is C8, with two formal notices, including one for failure to “deal with the obligation to deal with moderation” a current legal case, during a “TPMP” program devoted to the Lola affair, the teenager found dead in October 2022.

But regarding the financial sanctions, the most serious, only the channels of the Bolloré group were targeted: CNews twice and C8 five times, always for Cyril Hanouna's talk show. Between February 2022 and January 2024, the amount of sanctions exceeded 5 million euros, including a record fine of 3.5 million euros for the host's insults uttered towards the Val-de-Marne MP Louis Boyard (La France insoumise) in November 2022.

The first warning dates back to 2012

These recent Arcom sanctions against C8 and CNews are a continuation of the CSA's decisions against the two channels. The first warning from the regulator with regard to D8 (former name of C8) dates from 2012, for having incited delinquent or uncivil practices or behavior in a report entitled “Caïds of the cities: the new big banditry”.

According to a count carried out by Le Monde based on decisions published by the CSA and then by Arcom, by accumulating warnings, formal notices and financial sanctions, the C8 channel and its predecessor D8 were singled out 31 times, including six times for failure to comply with the obligation to control the antenna. One of these warnings was canceled by the Council of State in 2018.

CNews has been questioned ten times since 2019. The complaint of “failure to meet the requirement of honesty and independence of information” has notably earned it a warning, a formal notice and a financial penalty.

The numerous warnings and sanctions pronounced by the audiovisual regulator do not seem to have a dissuasive effect on the programming and choices of these two channels, since we note, on the contrary, that the number of warnings and warnings in residence has increased sharply since 2021.

Faced with this trend, the parliamentary commission of inquiry could in particular propose "angles for development to Arcom which has shown, until now, a lot of reserve in these decisions", underlines Aurélien Saintoul. Its findings are expected no later than May 8, 2024.

The table below summarizes the decisions published by the CSA and Arcom against the channels C8, D8 and CNews, according to a count carried out by Le Monde since 2012.