Bolloré Influence: JDD Strike Sparks EU Investigation

The Journal du Dimanche has not been published for five weeks because of the almost total strike by journalists against the appointment of Geoffroy Lejeune, a far-right personality, as its head. This decision, confirmed by the Lagardère group, is at the center of an investigation launched by the European Commission. This seeks to know if the takeover by Vincent Bolloré through Vivendi did not begin before the official date in early June. If this were the case, the submission to the ideological line of Vincent Bolloré of the JDD, but also of Paris Match or Europe1, could be called into question.

As the deadline of August 1, officially set by Arnaud Lagardère to install Geoffroy Lejeune at the head of the Journal du Dimanche, is approaching, the impasse is total. Journalists vote daily to renew the strike by more than 95% to ask to give up appointing the former editor of Valeurs Actuelles, also open support of Eric Zemmour, at the head of the weekly. Journalists demand “guarantees of legal and editorial independence”.

The negotiations have been broken since July 24, which the Lagardère group announced in a press release, reaffirming that Geoffroy Lejeune would take office on August 1 and preparing the opening of a departure plan in the fall. The battle waged by JDD journalists goes far beyond their own newspaper and more generally raises the question of the independence of the media vis-à-vis their main shareholder.

“Where Bolloré passes, journalism passes away”
Freedom of the press being protected in France, they hoped that previous movements against the “bollorisation” of the media, such as I-Télé or Paris Match, would have allowed a more frank and massive mobilization as well as government support. Because the scheme applied to the Lagardère group is the same as that adopted by Vincent Bolloré for Vivendi. He took control of a listed company. What his fortune, acquired on the stock market and in Africa, allows him to do without difficulty. He then imposed his line by appointing leaders, all the more committed to his cause as he succeeded in transforming a CAC40 company into a family group.

The takeover strategy of the Lagardère group, still officially headed by Arnaud Lagardère who inherited it, was the subject of a long investigation by the European Commission’s Competition Directorate. It finally authorized the takeover on June 9 but opened an investigation to verify that the takeover had not been implemented long before. In this case, the Vivendi group risks a fine of up to 10% of its turnover.

Reporters Without Borders, one of the NGOs fighting against Bolloré’s influence on the French media, had requested this investigation. Invited on France Inter on July 1, its secretary general Christophe Deloire, recalled the following elements: “What we have experienced at each of its takeovers is that, where Bolloré passes, journalism dies. It is a ogre who digests the media and transforms them into an organ of opinion (…) We did a study in the context of an appeal against Arcom to the Council of State, there are about 13% of content that is really informative. The rest is opinion, strong opinion, opinion in a continuous stream in the same direction or almost.”

Repeated controversies for TPMP

If this line leads to an increase in referrals from regulators such as Arcom, it has greatly contributed to Éric Zemmour’s score of 7% in the 2022 Presidential elections. Vincent Bolloré’s spokesperson, the most visible in the media, remains Cyril Chanuna. Among the repeated controversies he triggered on the air, that of the insults against the deputy Louis Boyard who dared to attack Vincent Bolloré, remained in the annals. Last case to date, a fine of 500,000 euros imposed on 3touche pas à mon poste” for having let a notorious conspirator on the air give the names of celebrities who “drink the blood of children”.

These two elements give an idea of what the Journal du Dimanche journalists are trying to fight. So that this is not a last last stand, several specialized NGOs, including “Un bout des media”, are organizing support actions and calling on parliamentarians to commit to the independence of the media. If the fight is crucial for democracy, it is also crucial for the fight against climate change.

The place given to climate skeptics by CNews is regularly denounced by the Quota Climat association, which recalls that “only 11% of French people consider themselves well informed about climate change”. It is preparing with other organizations a “transpartisan bill to improve the media’s treatment of ecology”, a project for which legal guarantees on the freedom of the press are essential.

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