Destinations Magazine

Vive La Résistance

By Stizzard

LIKE martial music after a military coup, France’s public radio stations have broadcast little but song tracks for the past three weeks. Since employees at Radio France, which runs seven public stations, began a strike on March 19th, a rotating playlist has been interrupted only for the occasional news update and apology for the disrupted service. The longest strike in French radio’s history, it has paralysed programming and exasperated listeners. It encapsulates the difficulties of reforming the French public sector.

The strike began as a protest, mostly by production and technical staff, against a cut in the public subsidy and an attempt to control Radio France’s deficit, which will reach €21m ($ 23m) this year. This could involve 250-330 job losses as well as other rationalisation plans. Radio France, with nearly 5,000 employees, runs two symphony orchestras, for example; Mathieu Gallet, its new boss, has raised the possibility of merging them.

But resistance to reform hardened after it emerged that Mr Gallet, who took over a year ago, had refurbished his office in Radio France’s headquarters at the cost of €100,000. This circular 1960s Paris landmark has itself cost €430m to revamp, twice the original estimate, including the construction of a brand-new auditorium for €42m. Mr Gallet apologised, insisting that the work on his office had begun before…

The Economist: Europe

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