More than 20,000 people lodged complaints with the broadcasting authority, advertisers pulled their ads from the comedy chat show, and even the presenter Cyril Hanouna’s own colleagues have turned on him since the off-colour sequence aired last Thursday.
The incident that outraged so many involved Hanouna passing himself off as gay and placing an ad on a gay dating site that read “Jean-José, very sporty and really well hung… I love being insulted!”, and then, live on air, phoning men who responded to his ad.
The resulting conversations, in which Hanouna pretended to be interested in meeting the men, sparked hilarity among the studio audience on the hugely popular show called “Touche pas à mon poste” on the C8 channel.
But almost immediately the complaints and angry reactions came flooding in.
Government and non-government gay rights groups issued statements denouncing what they saw as a tacky anti-gay trick, and the AJL gay journalists’ association said it was planning to sue the presenter.
A group of about 15 LGBT activists turned up at the CSA, the state broadcasting authority which has said it is deciding what action to take, and painted a slogan on the footpath in front of the building that read: “Hanouna is a producer of homophobia, the CSA is complicit.”
“When is the CSA going to do something?” asked Front National deputy leader Florian Philippot, one of the far-Right party’s few openly gay officials.
The 20,000 complaints the CSA received about the show was not far off the total of 36,000 complaints it received for the whole of last year.
Luxury group Chanel, German engineering group Bosch, and Disneyland Paris said they were pulling their ads from slots during the primetime show, which Disneyland said had shown that it was “the opposite of our values.”
Hanouna on Monday admitted he had made a “mistake” with regard to the offending sequence but said that he had become the victim of a “media frenzy.”
This isn't the first time Hanouna has been slammed for homophobia. In December 2016, the French association of LGBT journalists (AJL) claimed that the TV presenter was “obsessed with homosexuality”.
The presenter and panelists on the popular TV review show Touch pas a mon poste brought up the subject of homosexuality 42 times across 20 shows in November, “often to laugh about it in a disparaging manner”, the group said.