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Head Of Public TV Channels Quits Under Fire

December 19, 1990

PARIS (AP) _ The president of two troubled state-run television channels resigned Wednesday. Journalists at one channel are on strike, and popular programs on the other have been canceled for financial reasons.

Philippe Guilhaume, president of Antenne 2 and FR3, announced his decision at a news conference while strikers jeered. He blamed unspecified ″political powers″ for creating obstacles that made his task impossible.

Later, the council that oversees French radio and television named a successor, Herve Bourges. He has been director of Radio Monte Carlo, chief spokesman at UNESCO and president of TFI, a former public TV channel that was privatized in 1987.

Guilhaume’s resignation coincided with separate crises at each of the channels.

At FR3, which specializes in cultural and public affairs programs, several hundred journalists have been on strike since Nov. 28 seeking higher wages. About 100 of the strikers staged a protest at luxury Plaza-Athenee hotel as Guilhaume arrived to hold his news conference.

At Antenne 2, which competes with the privately owned TF1 for the largest share of French viewers, executives recently cancelled or cut back a half- dozen popular programs for budgetary reasons. The channel reportedly has amassed a deficit of more than $100 million for 1990.

Antenne 2′s problems were thrust into the national spotlight on Tuesday night, during the annual awards ceremony for the French television industry.

One of the winners was Frederic Mitterrand, who has been host or producer of several Antenne 2 programs, including some that have been affected by the cutbacks.

Before a national TV audience, Mitterrand - a nephew of President Francois Mitterrand - placed his trophy on the floor.

″That’s where public television is - on the floor,″ he said, noting that his protest was being broadcast by TF1.

The Socialist government had made clear that it was not prepared to defend Guilhaume.

Prior to the resignation, Communications Minister Catherine Tasca had questioned how Guilhaume could ″declare that all is going well at a company in which the majority of employees say there are problems.″

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