The Socialist government of President Francois Mitterrand has announced it will break the traditional government monopoly on television by allowing two commercial channels on the air in a few months. But there is some confusion about just how revolutionary the new policy will be in terms of broadening access to the nation's airwaves.
Secretary of Communications Georges Fillioud announced this week that the Mitterrand Cabinet has approved a two-phase program for private television. First, the Cabinet member said, two national channels "of a commercial character" will be created in a few months, probably before the end of the year. One will be a video music channel appealing to young people; the other, he said, a national channel of general interest.
After the election of Mitterrand, the government has been slow to do away with the monopoly and, like its predecessors, has been accused of interfering in the news coverage. A supposedly independent Television Authority was created in 1982 to oversee the government channels, but this hasn't quieted the criticism.