French b'cast regulator urges more diversity

CSA calls lack of 'nonwhites' intolerable

PARIS -- It was all black and white in Paris on Wednesday as state broadcasting regulator the CSA attacked French television for its lack of diversity at a press conference headed by CSA president Michel Boyon.

Boyon called the lack of "nonwhites" on French television "unacceptable" and "intolerable in the France of 2008" and plans to strictly enforce diversity quotas in the future.

The visibility of minorities in the Gallic audiovisual sector has progressed just 1% over the past nine years, according to a study conducted by the CSA based on an ordinary 500-hour week of programming on 16 of the country's main channels.

Individuals labeled "nonwhite" represented only 14% of faces on French television, 8% black, 3% Arab, 2% Asian and 3% "other minorities."

Some 11% of actors in French fictions are minorities, compared with 19% in the U.S. The CSA refused to release channel-by-channel figures.

Vice president of state diversity organization Alain Mear suggested that the CSA create a "diversity barometer" with results published every six months starting during the first semester of 2009.

Meetings between the country's main networks and the CSA are already under way, and Boyon said the CSA might have to resort to judiciary action if an agreement isn't reached and, he added, "why not sanctions?"
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