The Superior council of audio-visual initiates a procedure before deciding, next week, to put an end or not to the mandate of Mathieu Gallet.
The Superior council of audio-visual (CSA) decided to vote to determine if Mathieu Gallet can remain president of Radio France: in its plenary session of Wednesday, January 17, the authority announced to have "Decided to implement article 47-5 of the amended law of 30 September 1986", that is to say Article providing for the terms of withdrawal of the mandate of the President Radio France (or France Télévisions or France Médias Monde), which runs until May 2019.
This procedure follows the conviction of Mathieu Gallet on January 15, to one year in prison suspended for favoritism when he was president of the National Audiovisual Institute (INA).
Decision expected next week
The CSA specifies that at the end of the procedure, its decision will be rendered "As quickly as possible in the respect of the contradictory and especially after the communication of the judgment rendered with respect to Mr. Mathieu Gallet". Indeed, the full text of the decision rendered Monday by the Criminal Court of Créteil has not yet been published by the registry.
According to our information, the vote of the CSA should be held the week of January 22. Before that, the board chose to give Mathieu Gallet the opportunity to be heard or to present a defense file. The authority is also open to hearing, at their request, from third parties, for example the unions of Radio France.
Useful reminder: the CSA can do everything decide in fine not to dismiss Mr. Gallet.
Evaluation of the internal and external context
In concrete terms, the seven councilors of the Council will vote by simple majority. They will assess if the situation in which is found Mathieu Gallet allows him to continue to calmly lead Radio France or if he is prevented. The authority has not retained the argument of the lawyers of the president of Radio France, which concerns the merits of the case: according to them, their client is entitled to the presumption of innocence, because he appealed judgment , making an impeachment procedure irrelevant.
The internal context of Radio France could play in favor of Mr. Gallet: since Monday, most unions and administrators have not asked for his departure. On the other hand, the tense relations he now maintains with the government could push him to leave.
Indeed, Françoise Nyssen, the Minister of Culture, called the CSA, on January 16th, to "Draw the consequences" judgment. However, this ministry exercises direct supervision over public audiovisual entities, such as Radio France, and decides in particular on its budget.
The CSA and public broadcasting in uncertainty
By opening a procedure, the CSA takes the risk of appearing to bow to the pressure of the executive, which, according to some, questions the independence of the public audio-visual one. But the authority potentially cuts the criticism that it does not control enough the action of the presidents of public audiovisual he named himself, like Mr. Gallet, in 2014. Mr. Macron has made such a criticism, to justify withdrawing the power of appointment from the CSA and entrusting it to the boards of directors of the companies concerned. Mme Nyssen hopes to vote "Quickly" a law in this sense.
If the CSA had to vote the end of the mandate of Mr. Gallet - an original case - one would however enter a zone of uncertainties. In the short term, he would be replaced by the "Oldest member" of the board of directors, among the members appointed by the CSA: in principle Jean-Luc Vergne, former director of human resources of large companies and president of BGE, network of assistance to entrepreneurs.
But in the medium term would arise the question of appointing a successor: would this responsibility come to the CSA, despite the reservations of the government? Or could the latter pass a law quickly enough to reform the way of appointment? In this case, the mandate of the president, Delphine Ernotte, could be put in play sooner than expected. Especially if the executive decides to create a joint structure to Radio France and France Televisions. The public audiovisual sector is confronted every day with more questions.