All over France, and also around the world, more and more citizens are expressing concern about the future of the media in our country.
The administration has strengthened its grip on the public TV and radio services, while independent media companies are finding it more and more difficult to survive. Meanwhile the laws which lay down the status of journalists, and their rights as authors, are being questioned. Media workers generally are being subjected to strong downward pressure on our wages and working conditions.
In other words, there are many reasons for mass mobilisation.
At the heart of the French media landscape, Agence France-Presse is one of a kind. While remaining an indispensable news source for the state and its administrations, AFP is also one of only a handful of worldwide news agencies that still survive. It works in six languages and maintains bureaus and correspondents in 165 countries.
Today the independence of our agency is threatened by a plan to change its founding statutes, which are enshrined in a 1957 law.
AFP's CEO has just confirmed to the works committee that he intends to push ahead with his plan to turn the agency into a "national company with public-sector capital".
This would in fact have the characteristics of a joint-stock company, and could therefore be easily privatised at a later stage. Both outcomes - a state news agency or a privatised one - are equally unacceptable.
To protest against this project, more than 15,000 people have to date signed the joint union petition "for the survival and independence of Agence France-Presse."
The list of signatories contains many famous names, among those of thousands of citizens from all over France and the rest of the world.
The joint unions have decided to underline the growing opposition that this project is sparking both inside and outside the company by handing in the full list of the first 15,200 signatories to the parliament and the Culture Ministry.
To that end, the unions call for a staff general assembly at 2:00 pm on Tuesday June 23, 2009, accompanied by a work stoppage from 2:00 to 5:00 pm and a rally at 3:00 pm outside the Culture Ministry, where the list of signatures will be handed in.
The unions have also made appointments to hand in the signature lists to both houses of the French parliament.
Following these initiatives, the petition will continue.
June 22, 2009 - Joint AFP trade unions (CGT, SNJ, CFDT, FO and SUD