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Trade Union Contests AFP’s Decision to Flout French Election Law

mardi 5 juin 2012

As announced in April, the SUD-AFP trade union has lodged an official complaint over Agence France-Presse’s decision during the recent French presidential election to provide its clients with estimated results before the legal deadline of 8:00 pm.

(NB : On July 17, the Higher Council handed down its decision - which as we expected went against us. The Council nevertheless criticised AFP’s attitude over the electoral results, which it described rather mysteriously as "regrettable". For SUD-AFP’s account of the decision - available only in French, click here)
Our complaint was filed on May 11th with the agency’s "higher council", the watchdog body charged with ensuring that AFP conforms to Article 2 of its 1957 statutes. Article 2 notably states that : "Agence France-Presse may under no circumstances take account of influences or considerations liable to compromise the exactitude or the objectivity of the information it provides" and "Agence France-Presse must... provide French and foreign users with exact, impartial and trustworthy information on a regular and uninterrupted basis". (For a complete translation of AFP’s statutes into English, see the SOS-AFP web site). The brief provided by SUD in defence of its complaint - which can be downloaded in French from the address provided below - refers both to the way AFP handled the election results on voting day and to management’s decision to publicise the controversy sparked by its decision to send estimates to clients before the legal deadline. Our investigation shows that far from having reacted defensively to widespread flouting of the 8:00 pm embargo by its main competitors, AFP was in fact among the first to transmit the estimated results. We believe the agency therefore contributed to the very phenomenon it claimed to be reacting against. AFP management then went on to use the controversy over the early results as a promotional opportunity, notably via a blog post published in both English and French, and since deleted from the Agency’s blog platform. Our brief (450 Kb PDF file - French only) is at

Be it on the level of industrial relations or democratic freedoms, no desire to appear "modern" can justify AFP betraying its mission or acting outside the law.
SUD-AFP - Tuesday June 5th, 2012