Vincent Bolloré and Cyril Hanouna will be heard in mid-March by a commission of inquiry at the Assembly

The conservative billionaire Vincent Bolloré, who notably controls the CNews and C8 channels, as well as Cyril Hanouna, star and controversial host of C8, will be heard in mid-March at the National Assembly by the commission of inquiry into the allocation of frequencies TV, Agence France-Presse learned on Thursday February 15 from Renaissance MP Quentin Bataillon, president of the commission

Vincent Bolloré and Cyril Hanouna will be heard in mid-March by a commission of inquiry at the Assembly

The conservative billionaire Vincent Bolloré, who notably controls the CNews and C8 channels, as well as Cyril Hanouna, star and controversial host of C8, will be heard in mid-March at the National Assembly by the commission of inquiry into the allocation of frequencies TV, Agence France-Presse learned on Thursday February 15 from Renaissance MP Quentin Bataillon, president of the commission.

Aurélien Saintoul (LFI), rapporteur of the commission of inquiry, notably indicated in January that he would like to hear Mr. Hanouna, "the person most recalled to the order of the PAF [French audiovisual landscape]", referring to to the numerous sanctions that the media regulator, Arcom, has imposed on the C8 channel for sequences or comments made in the program “Touche pas à mon poste” (TPMP) presented by the channel's flagship host. The latest sanction dates back to the end of January.

On February 29, it was the boss of the Canal group, Maxime Saada, then the management of CNews, as well as its star presenters Pascal Praud and Laurence Ferrari, who were summoned before parliamentarians.

As part of its investigations, any parliamentary commission of inquiry may summon one or more people to be interviewed under oath. The regulations of the National Assembly specify that “a person who does not appear or refuses to testify or take an oath before a commission of inquiry is liable to two years of imprisonment and a fine of 7,500 euros.” These hearings may, depending on the wishes of the chairman of the committee, be televised or take place behind closed doors.

Towards stricter control of pluralism of opinions

The media regulator, Arcom, is due to launch calls for applications at the end of February for the renewal of authorizations for fifteen digital terrestrial television (DTT) frequencies in 2025, including those of the Canal group, C8 and CNews. The commission of inquiry launched in the Assembly last December concerns in particular this allocation procedure and “compliance with the commitments made by these television services” until then.

The subject of monitoring these commitments was put back on the table on Tuesday, with the Council of State's request to Arcom for more in-depth monitoring of televisions and radios. The decision of the highest administrative court follows an appeal from the NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which considers that CNews “has become an opinion media”, which the latter contests.

“From now on, in addition to counting the speaking times of political figures, the regulator will be able, to assess a publisher's respect for the pluralism of currents of thought and opinion, to take into account the interventions of all the participants in the programs broadcast , including the columnists, [the] presenters and [the] guests", noted Arcom following the decision, before adding that "to ensure the independence of the information", it “will [also] now be able to take into account all operating conditions and channel programming characteristics.”

Since this announcement on Tuesday, a possible threat to “freedom of expression” and an “authoritarian temptation” have been denounced on the channel as well as on C8. The Bolloré family is at the helm of media giant Vivendi, which owns the Canal group and its channels, including CNews and C8.