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French town accused of censoring left-leaning press

© AFP

Text by Rachel HOLMAN

Latest update : 2013-05-17

The small French town of Puteaux, an affluent suburb northwest of Paris, has been accused of censoring access to left-leaning publications after the main multimedia library there ended its subscriptions to several newspapers and magazines.

The small French town of Puteaux, an affluent suburb just northwest of Paris, has come under fire for censoring access to left-leaning publications after the main multimedia library there halted its subscriptions to several newspapers and magazines.

The controversy stems from the town’s decision to introduce a new system for re-evaluating which publications it should make available to library patrons.

French daily newspapers were the first to disappear from the racks, regardless of their political persuasion. The initiative then homed in on magazines, singling out periodicals such as Le Monde Magazine, Le Nouvel Observateur and Marianne, all of which are known for their left-leaning slant.

The move provoked a livid reaction from members of Puteaux’s local Green Party, who accused the town’s right-wing government of censoring access to left-leaning magazines. Pointing to the fact that other more conservative publications like Le Figaro Magazine and Le Point were still on display at the library, the party criticised what they called an “obvious and partisan act that would be laughable if it weren’t so serious”.

Yet Puteaux’s City Hall has fervently denied allegations that the selection process was in any way politically motivated.

“This isn’t a political decision, it’s an administrative decision,” a City Hall spokesperson told FRANCE 24. “There are so many publications in France, we can’t put them all on display, so we had to make a choice.”

“We observed what was read and what wasn’t read,” the spokesperson added, saying the decision to stock certain magazines and not others was based entirely on demand at each of the city’s three multimedia libraries.

But it is not the first time that Puteaux’s City Hall has found itself embroiled in controversy over its dealings with the press. The town’s mayor, Joëlle Ceccaldi-Raynaud, a member of France’s right-wing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), made headlines in October 2011 after allegedly buying up every single copy of satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchainé in order to keep the public from reading an article implicating her in a corruption scandal.
 

Date created : 2013-05-16

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