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French TV journalists call off ethics strike after 31 days

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Strikers from iTélé at a mass meeting earlier this month Reuters/Benoit Tessier

Employees of French TV channel iTélé have called off their strike over journalistic ethics after 31 days without winning their initial demand that a presenter accused of corruption of minors leave the channel.


A mass meeting called off the strike, the longest-ever in French private broadcasting, on Wednesday morning with all present voting to do so apart from two who abstained.

Management has given guarantees of editorial independence and agreed to the drafting of an ethical charter but has not fired or suspended presenter Jean-Marc Morandini, whose arrival at the 24-hour news channel sparked the conflict.

Morandini was employed after being charged with two counts of aggravated corruption of minors online, following accusations by two young men who were below the age of consent at the time of the alleged offences.

When journalists objected to his employment management stood by him on the grounds of presumption of innocence.

Editorial independence and ownership

The question sparked a walkout that raised the question of editorial independence in the light of the purchase of the parent company, Vivendi, by billionaire Vincent Bolloré.

The strikers also wanted the jobs of director general and editor-in-chief, currently held by Serge Nedjar, to be separated.

Twenty-five journalists announced they would leave the channel on Wednesday and about 10 who had already said they would quit following management's promise to help those who wished to resign.

The strikers said in a statement they were calling off the industrial action "with heads held high and the feeling in our hearts that we have tried to defend our honour".

"We should thank the journalists of iTélé for having defended editorial independence with courage, tenacity and dignity," commented Christophe Deloire of the Reporters Without Borders press freedom campaign.