French TV fights Socialist imprint
Paris — Instead of the nightly news, French television viewers last Wednesday evening got bikinis: On each of the three national stations, the program was ''Charlie's Angels.''
Such overexposure for the Angels was the result of a 24-hour strike by television journalists demanding more independence from government interference and a say in the Socialist revamping of French television.
The strike underlined the larger outrage brewing over television here. During last year's presidential campaign, Francois Mitterrand denounced the partisan use of television under the previous regime and called for total freedom of airwaves.
Instead, critics say, right-wing bias has been replaced with left-wing bias. And these critics include not only the conservative opposition, but also the Communist Party, which thinks the Socialists are hogging the airwaves to promote themselves. A poll in one of Paris's major dailies showed 92 percent of the readers agreed.
Few people deny that the previous regime abused television. Little air time was given to leftist opposition groups, and some sujbects embarrassing to the government were not mentioned at all, including the scandal over the diamonds Emperor Bokassa of the Central African Republic gave to President Giscard d'Estaing.
But critics say television is just as politicized now, and may be even more political. Since Mitterrand's election, the Socialists have purged the networks of appointees of the previous regime, replacing them with Socialists. Several newsmen have lost their jobs.
As a result, the opposition is howling that the Socialists are using the medium for their own ends. They say, for example, that management does not get its say while attention is lavished on labor. President Mitterrand has shown himself to be sensitive to these charges and has pledged a new charter for French television and radio. But given the tradition of state control and the advocates within the Socialist Party of an even more politically ''engaged'' broadcast media to help solidify public support for sweeping Socialist changes, it is hard to see the government ceding control over its monopoly.