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French TV sends porn to Arabs

PARIS, July 22 -- French television Canal France International has expressed 'regret' that a hard-core pornographic film was broadcast around the Arab world in place of a scheduled children's show. The mistaken Saturday afternoon broadcast had provoked the Arabsat satellite consortium to pull all Canal France programming off the air.

CFI is financed by the French government. CFI officials said the switch in programming had taken place 'because of a technical error,' and an investigation was in progress to determine how it happened. The French government also apologized. French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jacques Rummelhardt told a news briefing today, 'We share in the high feelings prompted in Saudi Arabia and more widely in the Arab world.' He explained that CFI had no 'role in broadcasting such a program' and that, instead, the error occurred at France's Telecom's state communications agency. The agency feeds French television programming to many different satellites, including Arabsat, which broadcasts to many different Arab nations. He said the scheduled children's program was erroniously replaced by France Telecom with private French station pornographic film destined for clients in the Pacific. Rummelhardt said emphasized it was 'extremely regrettable,' adding that the incident was taken 'very seriously by France' because of efforts to offer Arab nations something other than American-made films. CFI reports its programming last year went to a Middle East audience 'potentially exceeding 33 million people.' ---

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