Radio Beur: Multiculturalism on the French Airwaves

  • Richard L. Derderian


The 1981 decision by the Socialist government to end the state monopoly over radio has been one of the most important but least studied events in the recent cultural history of France. From the establishment of Louis XI’s royal postal system in the fifteenth century to the development of the telegraph in the nineteenth century, French governments have historically exercised strict control over all forms of communication. State control over radio began to tighten during the tumultuous years leading up to and following World War II. In September 1939, after the declaration of war against Germany, all private stations were required to relay public broadcasts. At the end of the war, the ordinance of March 23, 1945 revoked the last remaining authorizations held by private stations.1 From 1945 to 1981 the French government effectively monopolized all radio broadcasts within its own borders. Even the handful of radios périphériques—postwar long-wave stations broadcasting to much of France from the border regions of neighboring countries—were controlled by a state-directed holding company (Sofirad) and a state-owned media conglomerate (Havas).2 As late as 1980, France had only seven legal stations for a population of 50 million— proportionally some 25 times less than the United States.3


Young People Station Member Minority Station Algerian Community French Society 
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© North Africans in Contemporary France 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard L. Derderian

There are no affiliations available

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