PARIS — France awarded its first commercial television network Wednesday to friends of President Francois Mitterrand and an Italian television magnate who was accused by a Cabinet minister of flooding his country's channels with shoddy programs.
French newspapers said Mitterrand made the decision personally, bucking strong opposition within his Socialist Party.
The new channel is expected to carry movies, series, games and light entertainment. It will go on the air to about 45% of French viewers by Feb. 20. France now has one pay and three state-run channels, with no local stations.
Criticism of the decision came from politicians in both camps, the broadcasting and film industries, and the society of writers and composers.