His media appearances are very rare. The last dates back to the beginning of 2022, when Vincent Bolloré spoke to the Senate as part of a commission of inquiry into media concentration in France. This shows that his hearing, Wednesday afternoon, at the National Assembly, was eagerly awaited. Two years later, twice again. Here is the Breton billionaire summoned by a new parliamentary commission of inquiry launched by LFI deputies, this time on the subject of the allocation of TV frequencies.

The Canal group, which it controls, is primarily concerned. Two weeks ago, the audiovisual regulator, Arcom, began the process of renewing 15 digital terrestrial television (DTT) frequencies, including those of CNews and C8, regularly under fire from criticism. This procedure will determine which channels will have the right to broadcast in France in 2025. And many hope for the target for the two antennas of the Canal group. Including within the commission of inquiry: the ecologist Sophie Taillé-Polian launched a petition at the beginning of February to say “no to the renewal of the approval of CNews and C8”. Previously, it was the former Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul Malak, who made this threat.

Questioned as advisor to the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Vivendi, Vincent Bolloré estimated before the deputies that, “if by extraordinary means”, one of the channels of the Canal group saw its frequency withdrawn, this decision “would be perceived as a mark of distrust, apart from the problem of freedom of expression. Whether we like it or not, the external feeling is that the success and freedom of tone of the Canal channels are annoying. »

According to the billionaire, CNews is a success because it “tells the truth, receives everyone, well in any case everyone who wants to go there, and it is today a space of freedom. » Under these conditions, the withdrawal of C8 or CNews frequencies “would be taken as a slap in the face and that will pose a problem for Canal”, he considers. “I think the Canal channels are being scrutinized. (…) I think there is a file that has been prepared for some time… Anyone who wants to drown their dog claims that it has rabies. »

He did not fail to remind the socialist deputy Jérôme Guedj that both “Arcom and the Council of State said that CNews was a news channel and not an opinion channel. I am not going to take the place of Arcom and the Council of State, and you have no reason to do so. » If the media regulator decides to put in place new rules of the game, “have no doubt that we will respect all the obligations, and if they change along the way, we will adapt whatever let it happen,” wanted to reassure Vincent Bolloré. But he said, as he did two years ago, that France should “rather pamper its national champion”.

The businessman returned to his takeover of Canal, which sparked a lot of criticism. “When I arrived at Canal, I fixed things, I named the teams and in fact, I changed quite a few. » A number of senior executives were asked to leave, not because of their lack of skills “but because they did not want to change their lifestyle,” he said.

“They were lords, they were used to living in luxury. The top of the basket, it was a party in the village. These are the ones who have been replaced by much more economical people.” And added: “When we stop a big party, people aren’t going to say it’s because they were partying, they’re going to say “he’s a far-right guy”. » To another member of the commission, who asked him if he was leading a political mission, he assured that he had “no ideological project”, adding in a tone of humor: “I am very gentle and good-natured, not at all an Attila. »

Asked about a possible secret agreement around the sale of Paris Match, within the Lagardère group of which Vivendi owns, to the billionaire Bernard Arnault (LVMH) and a possible acquisition by Vivendi of the newspaper Le Parisien, which LVMH owns, Vincent Bolloré brushed aside this hypothesis. “As Le Parisien is not for sale, to my knowledge, there is no discussion. »

The billionaire also supported Cyril Hanouna, the star host of his channel C8. “Despite fines, despite problems, Cyril Hanouna, it is his success that protects him. It is watched every evening by more than two million viewers.” The controversial presenter of Touche pas à mon poste will in turn be heard by the commission of inquiry of the National Assembly this Thursday at 2 p.m.