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French radio journalists strike in protest over plans to merge with 'France's Fox News'

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AFP/The Local France - [email protected]
French radio journalists strike in protest over plans to merge with 'France's Fox News'
(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 29, 2018 a man stands in front of the building housing French media including Europe 1, Lagardere group, Virgin radio and RFM in Paris. - Europe 1 editorial staff goes on strike until June 21, 2021. (Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP)

Billionaire Vincent Bolloré's bid to shake up the French news media by catering to conservative and right-wing voters is facing resistance from journalists at his next target, one of the country's biggest private radio stations.

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Employees at Europe 1 have been on strike since Friday as fears simmer about efforts to shift the station's editorial line under pressure from Bollore.

Underlying the turbulence are moves to bring Europe 1 together with CNews, a rolling TV news channel launched in 2017 by Bolloré's media group that critics have likened to Fox News in the United States.

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"Day after day, the station seems to align itself a bit more with the output of CNews," a column published at the weekend by Europe 1 journalists and union representatives said.

Writing in Le Monde newspaper, they described CNews editorial stance as "strongly anchored to the right, even at times to the far right" and warned that Europe 1 risked losing, "what is most precious: its credibility among listeners."

Last month, management at the radio station confirmed plans for the first time to create links between the two Bolloré-controlled companies, which will see more sharing of programming and on-air talent.

The tie-up is seen as being driven by commercial logic - struggling Europe 1 has been shedding listeners for years, while CNews with its raft of celebrity presenters is going from strength to strength.

But the possible political consequences of a closely linked radio and TV operation have not been missed by President Emmanuel Macron, who is said to be monitoring events closely ahead of presidential elections next year.

"If in the future Bollore does exactly what he wants with Europe 1, and does the same thing as he did at CNews, clearly that gives him colossal (political) firepower," said David Medioni, head of a Media Observatory at the Jean-Jaures Foundation, a left-leaning think-tank.

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