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Presidential: TVs and radios want to dust off the political program – France

Abstainers, first-time voters, women… Radio and TV are trying to give new impetus to the traditional political broadcast, a few weeks before the presidential election, by involving an audience with which listeners and viewers are likely to identify.

The mission of the channel is to convince people to take an interest in politics and why not go and vote

In a context of distrust of political figures and journalists, the media want to regain “a place of trust with the French” and give them “the means” to “enlighten their civic decision and their vote”, explains Marie-France Chambat- Houillon, semiologist and media analyst, director of the “Communication, information, media” laboratory at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University.

“They are no longer simply relays of information, but they take on a social role, a civic mission”, she continues, in particular to fight against abstention, high during the last elections.

LCI has thus created the program “Mission Convincing”, where the candidates for the Élysée will be interviewed in turn by six abstentionists selected by the Ifop institute. Valérie Pécresse (LR) is the first guest this Monday.

“The channel’s mission is to convince people to take an interest in politics and why not go and vote”, hopes Fabien Namias, deputy general manager of the TF1 group channel.

“Face aux Françaises” on the eve of March 8

LCI also teamed up with the women’s magazine Elle for another program entitled “Face aux Françaises” and broadcast on March 7, on the eve of International Women’s Rights Day. In this program, it will be women who will question the candidates on “themes that concern them such as equality, parity or harassment”, explains Fabien Namias.

For Marie-France Chambat-Houillon, it is also a question of not missing out on a certain audience and the media benefit from targeting a particular audience.

BFMTV has taken a similar path with “France in the Eyes”, where the candidates are questioned by citizens with various profiles (farmers, students, retirees, etc.) who ask questions “at human level” and “concrete”, says Marc-Olivier Fogiel, general manager of the channel.

The show, which has had only one issue so far, was initially entrusted to journalist Jean-Jacques Bourdin, who made proximity to the public his trademark, but has since been removed from the antenna following the opening of an investigation targeting him for sexual assault.

Giving voice to young people

At Radio France, “we give an important place to the field” to “give voice to first-time voters and young people”, underlines Vincent Giret, the group’s director of information and sports.

On February 22, a hundred young people will be invited to the Maison de la Radio to interview the candidates and a journalist from franceinfo will travel across France to take portraits of 18/30 year olds. The public antenna will also offer role-playing games on Twitch to “encourage young people to get involved in the campaign”.

“As a public service media, we have (the) responsibility” to mobilize “the French in general” but also “younger audiences”, who can “be disinterested” and “tempted by abstention”, recalls Vincent Giret.

On the side of France Télévisions, the star program Élysée 2022 will highlight, from February 10 on France 2, the word of French people in front of the candidates with reports in the region to relay their concerns.

For media historian Fabrice d’Almeida, these programs take up “an old American tradition of public participation”, particularly in entertainment. They are the result of a process that began in the late 1990s in France and which has accelerated since the last presidential elections, that of participatory democracy.

These new codes were also at the heart of the program “Face à Baba”, presented by Cyril Hanouna, Thursday on C8, which gave rise to a debate between Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Éric Zemmour, but also to the highlighting of concerns of voters, for example through the intervention of a police officer. It was watched by 1.8 million viewers.

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