Complaints about 'racist' French TV coverage

Colombia's players celebrate last-minute equaliser at Manaus, Brazil, August 9, 2016. — Reuters pic
Colombia's players celebrate last-minute equaliser at Manaus, Brazil, August 9, 2016. — Reuters pic

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PARIS, Aug 10 — France’s broadcasting watchdog said yesterday it was examining complaints that commentary during French TV coverage of the Rio Olympics has been “colonialist” and “xenophobic”.

The head of sport at state-funded France Televisions, Daniel Bilalian, has come under attack from an anti-racist group for his commentary of a segment of the opening ceremony about Brazil’s history in which he described African slaves as “necessary” for the country’s industrial development.

The Representative Council of Black Associations said the commentary for Friday’s opening ceremony had been “a veritable festival of mistakes, ineptitudes and colonial statements”.

Thomas Bouhail, a medal-winning Olympic gymnast who is working as an analyst on the gymnastics coverage, was widely criticised on Twitter for comparing Japanese competitors to “little Pikachus”, referring to the animated Pokemon characters.

The CSA watchdog said it had received at least two complaints from viewers and was studying the complaint from the anti-racist group.

France Televisions said in a statement it “regrets the commentary, understands the reactions and is taking a serious look at the situation”.

The head of France Televisions, Delphine Ernotte, will meet representatives from the anti-racist group after the Olympics.

More than one million people in France watched Friday’s opening ceremony despite it starting after midnight in the country. — AFP

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