French politician Marion Marechal-Le Pen awants to clean house in the media. EPA-EFE/JIM LO SCALZO


Reconquête! VP Maréchal: ‘French citizens should choose media outlets to fund’


Marion Maréchal, Vice-President of the French right-wing Reconquête! party, is advocating the implementation of a “media voucher” system in France.

Her proposal is designed to grant every French citizen the opportunity to choose what media outlets they want to support financially.

Speaking on French TV, Maréchal unveiled her plans for the media voucher.

The politician, set to lead the European list for Éric Zemmour’s Reconquête!, said it would enable individuals to give a personally allocated portion of the €400 million earmarked for the press via their tax returns.

Under the proposal, each tax household would receive a voucher worth approximately €10. With it, they could select the specific media organisations they wished to fund.

She pleaded for citizens to have the opportunity to “choose the media to which you want to give”.

“If you don’t earmark anything, it goes back into the common pot and there’s a roughly equivalent redistribution.”

Maréchal added that she wanted to “review the contract between society and the press” and that such a media voucher would be “a form of justice”.

“We artificially keep alive media outlets that would naturally have to die because they no longer have any readers and no audience,” she said.

According to Maréchal, taxpayers’ funds are currently distributed arbitrarily by the French Government, often based on what she claimed were ideological affiliations or cronyism, benefiting certain segments of the media over others.

Her proposal is aimed, in her words, to democratise this process, allowing citizens to have a direct say in supporting the media outlets they value.

The voucher proposal comes amid a struggle between French institutions and an emerging, more Conservative media.

Maréchal reminded viewers that the Socialist Government pulled subsidies from the Conservative magazine Valeurs actuelles while, at the same time, it forgave a debt of more than €4 million for the progressive L’Humanite.

The latter still pulls significant subsidies from Paris.

Such a dynamic is, many feel, visible across the French media landscape, where progressives seem to get most if not all of the institutional advantages.

In mid-February, for instance, the highest administrative court in France ruled the national regulator for audio-visual and digital communication (Arcom) had to tighten its control over the Conservative CNews channel. In doing so, it cited “obligations in terms of pluralism and independence of information”.

The case was brought to court by the left-wing NGO Reporters Without Borders, who accused CNews of being “far-right”.

Left-wing politicians refused to attend CNews debates and have even declined to answer reporters’ enquiries, making it somewhat difficult to present the officially demanded pluralistic views.

The channel is, though, regarded generally as reasonably balanced in its coverage of politicians’ viewpoints.

Official numbers show that Rassemblement National (RN) and Reconquête!, two right-winged parties that poll at around 35 per cent of the vote, were given 28 per cent of the speaking time allocated to politicians on CNews.

On France TV, the national public television broadcaster, those parties were granted 15 per cent and on France Inter, a major French public radio channel, RN and Reconquête! got 10 per cent. The Left is generally in receipt of about 50 per cent of time available, it is believed.

The apparent skewing of those numbers is the result of politically stacked committees, according to Maréchal.

She argued that, if representatives of RN and Reconquête! played the same game, even though it would be more justified, given they have more public backing: “The Left would never tolerate it, they would scream of fascism and an attack on the rule of law and the entire press would be mobilised.

“There is an epic double-standard at work here”.

She concluded that, as far as she was concerned: “The public broadcasting system should be privatised.”