3rd December 2008

The French sometimes struggle to come to terms with this internet age. Living here is a curious mix of the ancient and the modern, each jostling for position in a land famed for its love of tradition and old values. On the one hand, no-one seems to knock anything down, preferring to leave in situ all those ancient, wonderful chateaux and riverside watermills - waiting for the arrival of les rosbifs (the English) to spend vast swathes of money on renovation. But, on the other hand, the French still feel they are the most superior people on earth so don't wish to be left behind in this internet age. Sometimes I get a fit of the giggles when I see an IT engineer struggling through some ancient stony portal in order to establish a broadband connection in one of the oldest villages in the world. Never the twain shall meet?
Well, now French TV seems also to have come of age. There is a plan for the French government to launch its own 'Web TV' site, with proposals to respond to questions about public services and reforms. However, comme d'habitude with anything new, the public is up in arms. Enter stage left, government Information Services Minister Thierry Saussez, who tells everyone not to worry. "Propaganda is saying the president is the greatest', he says, "so we don't be doing that." Quite. Everyone knows that we don't need a web TV for that: the man himself is more than capable!

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