The miraculous rediscovery of the soundtracks of François Mitterrand's pirate radio


In 1979, before the liberalization of the airwaves, the police scrambled "Radio Riposte", a program created by the PS to draw attention to the situation of audiovisual information in France.

By François Bougon Posted today at 06:00

Time to Reading 2 min.

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Surely there are not many radio programs that have been so poorly listened to that have had such a political and media impact. On the evening of June 28, 1979, the Socialist Party (PS), led by François Mitterrand, defied the law. From its headquarters at the time, located at 12, Cité Malesherbes, in Paris, it broadcasts on the FM band a "pirate" program emanating from an ephemeral station called "Radio Riposte"

This combative decision was taken four days earlier at an extraordinary national convention. The national secretary for the socialist project and studies, Jean-Pierre Chevènement, who rallied to François Mitterrand at the congress of Metz in April, explains then wanting " to draw the attention of the public opinion on the scandalous situation of the audio-visual information in our country ".

At the end of the 1970s, the law reserves the State monopoly of audiovisual broadcasting, but the technical means now make it possible to circumvent this prohibition: antennas and mobile transmitters open the way to "free radios", which face repression and interference by the authorities.

In Lorraine, in March, was launched, with the support of the CGT, Lorraine Heart Steel. This radio, intended to support the struggle of steelmakers who are worried about the disappearance of this industry, emits until July 1980. Furthermore, this famous June 28, Radio Riposte decides to integrate a duplex with this wrestling sister . Also scheduled is a round table denouncing the bill of the Minister of the Interior Christian Bonnet on immigration, which restricts foreigners' access to French territory.

Security forces dislodge socialist leaders

But, after ten minutes, the jamming disrupts everything. The police intervene and dislodge bluntly, in front of television cameras, socialist leaders, including Laurent Fabius, Paul Quiles, Lionel Jospin and Georges Sarre. The authorities may think François Mitterrand, interviewed by Radio Riposte, but his intervention was recorded, as the entire program, the rest.

Since Brussels, François Mitterrand denounces the police repression. The controversy continues until the summer, with the indictment of the number one of the PS and Laurent Fabius. Two years later, in 1981, the victory of the left in the presidential election paves the way for the legalization of free radios and the upheaval of the French audiovisual landscape.


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