The head of France's Arcom media regulator, Roch-Olivier Maistre EPA-EFE/LUDOVIC MARIN


French news channel fined €80,000 over negative broadcasts on migration and climate change


Popular Conservative French news channel CNews was fined €80,000 by the country’s media regulator for expressing negative viewpoints regarding migration and climate change without offering suitable commentary for balance.

Arcom, the French media regulator, imposed two financial penalties on CNews, for “failing to meet its obligations”.

One fine of €60,000 was given over a broadcast on December 10, 2023, where two studio guests declared “immigration kills…without any reaction from the host or the other people present on set”, the media regulator wrote in its decision.

“The use of the formula ‘immigration kills’ by two guests is likely to represent people of immigrant origin, as a whole, as a deadly risk factor,” Arcom ruled.

“Such stigmatisation, which reduces immigrants to the status of dangerous people … is likely to incite hatred against them because of their race, nationality or ethnic origin and encourage discriminatory behaviour towards them because of their race, nationality or origin.”

The other penalty of €20,000 was in light of another broadcast, in July 2023, which was a particularly hot month, when a guest stated: “Anthropogenic climate change is a lie, a scam. At some point, we need to look at things scientifically; it’s not a law of science.

“There has been global warming since the mid-19th century, but it follows a mini ice age … so the climate has always evolved and will continue to do so. But to explain that it’s because of humans, no, that’s a conspiracy.

“And why does it carry so much weight? Because it justifies state intervention in our lives, and it also absolves the state from having to reduce its public spending. Elisabeth Borne [French PM at the time] announced that we’re going to spend €60 billion a year to fight against… against this so-called warming,” the guest continued.

“This way, the State says, ‘Well, I can’t make savings, there’s global warming.’ It’s very convenient, and it allows intervention in the agenda, in people’s lives, housing, transport, industry, agriculture, and it’s… for me, it’s a form of totalitarianism. As a liberal economist, it’s a form of totalitarianism.”

Again, there was no attempt at balance, Arcom said.

“The participant was thus able to express a controversial thesis not verified by established scientific data without the position he defended being put into perspective and without any contradiction on this subject being expressed following these remarks,” the body ruled.

CNews had already been fined €50,000 in May, after Frennch journalist Geoffroy Lejeune connected anti-Semitism and prison overcrowding with Arab-Muslim immigration on the station.

According to Arcom, that conveyed “several negative stereotypes” and “imputes serious facts and behaviours to a population group as a whole”.

CNews recently replaced BFMTV as the most popular non-stop news channel in France and is part of the media empire of the Conservative billionaire Vincent Bolloré.

C8, another channel in Bolloré’s media holding, has been fined a total of more than €7.5 million over comments made by Cyril Hanouna, who hosts and produces his own show on C8.

The largest part was a record fine of €3.5 million in February 2023, after Hanouna called Louis Boyard, an MP with the hard-left La France Insoumise (LFI), an “idiot”, “weirdo” and “piece of shit” during a live broadcast.

On July 9, 2024, C8 decided to stop broadcasting Hanouna’s show live, instead implementing a time delay.

The fines and controversies regarding Bolloré-owned media channels came amid Arcom’s impending decision on broadcasting rights for 15 frequencies on which they are broadcast, including those currently used by CNews. Some 24 other media players have expressed interest in taking the rights themselves.

Bolloré’s group will also present broadcasting renewal applications for seven of its subsidiaries: Canal +, Canal + Sport, Canal+ Cinéma(s), Planète +, CStar, C8 and CNews.

Left-wing media have accused these channels of being far-right propaganda tools.

In the French Parliament, LFI deputy Aurélien Saintoul said she “could not understand that the CNews and C8 channels could have their broadcasting authorisations renewed as they stand”.

In February 2023, Rima Abdul-Malak, then-culture minister, said Bolloré posed “a threat to the freedom of expression and creation”.