RSF Says Targeted By Vivendi PR Firm

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Reporters Without Borders, RSF, on Thursday accused a PR firm with links to French billionaire conservative Vincent Bollore of orchestrating a “vast disinformation campaign” against it.

The Paris-based NGO, known for its work in defending press freedom around the world, said the PR firm, Progressif Media, had set up false websites made to look like that of RSF.

It also sent out messages on X to discredit RSF, the NGO said.

The fake sites included content accusing RSF of trying to censor CNews, the country’s most popular news channel that is regularly accused of promoting far-right views.

Progressif Media, RSF found, is part-owned by Bollore’s telecoms conglomerate Vivendi, and is based on the same premises.

Vivendi also owns CNews and several other news organisations that are seen as shifting France’s media landscape to the right in recent years.

Vivendi, which denies political bias in its news outlets, told the media it had “no knowledge of possible illegal practices attributed to Progressif Media by RSF.”

However, a spokesperson confirmed Progressif Media had been deployed by a part of its media empire “to counter certain arguments about CNews.”

“We will see what happens next, what choices Vivendi will make now that the facts have been exposed publicly,” said Arnaud Froger, head of RSF investigations.

CNews launched in 2017 and is often compared to Fox News in the United States.

According to RSF, the campaign came shortly after it made a formal complaint calling for stricter oversight of CNews.

Following RSF’s complaint, media regulator Arcom was instructed in February to tighten control over TV and radio stations to ensure balanced political coverage.

Bollore, known for having conservative views, has been gradually buying up many of the most important media companies in France, including film producers Canal+, Paris Match magazine and Europe 1 radio.

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