RFI strike against merger with France 24 continues
December 12th, 2011 - 17:58 UTC
by Andy Sennitt.

Employees of Radio France International (RFI) are continuing their strike to oppose a merger with the TV news channel France 24 within l’Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France (AEF), and are now appealing directly to the government. AEF, which includes RFI, France 24 and international French-language channel TV5Monde, has been under a barrage of criticism since its creation, with no less than three parliamentary reports and an audit of the General Inspectorate of Finances.

The unions have written a letter to the prime minister, pointing out that a number of experts have described such a merger as ‘risky’, and employees of RFI have also written to their colleagues in France 24 to discuss a joint campaign, saying: “the time has come to unite our strengths to fight against projects that undermine our skills, our working conditions and our business”.

They have also issued a ten-point description of what they call the “scandal of the AEF,” alleging “mismanagement” already criticized by unions and some lawmakers; the salary of CEO Alain de Pouzilhac (”twice that of the President of the Republic”) to “the dance of directors in France 24 and RFI” which cost 10 million euros including 5.1 million from “the lawsuits” by Christine Ockrent. The former Head of AEF threw in the towel after months of open warfare against its CEO.

Staff also stressed that the departure of 206 employees of RFI has cost the state 41.3 million euros and that “the next cut of 126 employees will permanently weaken RFI, which will no longer be able to deliver relevant information. It will cost the government 27.5 million euros”. They also suggest that the move of RFI to a new location close to France 24 may cost more than the estimated 24.5 million euros.

The merger of the three companies in AEF was recently approved by the Boards of Directors of France 24, RFI and TV5-Monde. It should theoretically take effect in mid-January.