Conclusion: The Origins of “Telecracy”? Some Final Reflections
Since de Gaulle’s return to power in June 1958, the increasingly important role of radio and television was the focus of a heated debate; the Fifth Republic was accused of having exercised a suffocating monopoly on the audiovisual system. Though this can hardly be denied, it is important to note that this monopoly had strong roots in the past. Since 1944, the absolute monopoly of the State over radio and television had been enshrined in law. Moreover, this monopoly had been the traditional practice adopted by the government since the end of the Second World War, more precisely ever since Gaston Defferre, Secretary of State for Information under Félix Gouin’s administration (January–June 1946), reorganised the radiophonic system. This was deprived of its own statute and put under the control of the executive. As noted in earlier chapters, in 1947 de Gaulle had been ostracised from the media by Prime Minister Ramadier, a ban which continued for the following 21 governments until he returned to power. During the Fourth Republic, despite political instability, French radio was known as “the most disciplined radio in Europe”. Later, following the political victory of the Republicans and Guy Mollet’s instatement as Prime Minister at Matignon in 1956, the continuation of the Algerian crisis and the disastrous Suez campaign led to stricter political control over television and the press. Though, the press was not directly subjected to the control of the State, there were attempts to “domesticate” it through sanctions and confiscations. In this context, the theory according to which the Fifth Republic marks the beginning of the subjugation of the media to political power appears to be a myth without sound historical foundations.