Le Web 3: French media denies forcing presidential candidate to blog

Le WebFrance’s national TV and radio networks have denied giving a French presidential candidate so little airtime he had no choice but to use a blog to reach his audience.

Francois Bayrou, leader of the centrist Union for French Democracy (UDF), told the Le Web 3 conference in Paris this morning: “The blogosphere is important for me in particular because I am a candidate who is not supported by the powerful traditional media.

“The only space of absolute freedom of speech now is the internet where the community of citizens can freely express their views without being controlled by media.”

But Valérie Lescable, managing director of Canal subsidiary TELE, denied the accusation, pointing to state rules guaranteeing equal election air time for each candidate.

“I think he is on TV quite a lot. He is very often on our television,” she said.

Veteran d’Antenne 2 journalist Jean-Pierre Elkabache also angrily fought off Mr Bayrou’s claim.

“We can’t leave this impression that only the internet leaves the time to politicians to communicate,” he told the audience. “Francois Bayrou gets exactly the same time as other candidates – we shouldn’t put amateur [media] with traditional media – we should work together.”

Discussing his intention to run for president in 2007, Mr Bayrou said he wanted to build an open, free society along the same ideals of sharing as open source software and wikis.

France leads Europe in the blogging stakes and politicians in particular have taken to the medium to present their messages and build support. Mr Bayrou said he had learned a lot from Howard Dean’s online bid to become US president in 2004.