21 Jan 2015

Paris mayor outraged at Fox News 'insult'

12:53 pm on 21 January 2015

The mayor of Paris has threatened to sue Rupert Murdoch's Fox News after the American cable network "insulted" the French capital's image.

Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Photo: 123RF

Anne Hidalgo said the honour of Paris had been hurt by Fox News portraying some neighbourhoods in the city as "no-go-zones" in the wake of terror attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher grocery.

The mayor told CNN the city's honor had been prejudiced by Fox reports that wrongly suggested areas of the city were closed to non-Muslims.

Fox on Saturday issued several apologies for statements made on-air that suggested such zones existed in Europe.

In one such apology, anchor Julie Banderas said the network "made some regrettable errors on air regarding the Muslim population in Europe," and apologized "to any and all who may have taken offence, including the people of France and England."

The US broadcaster had also apologised for airing a claim that the British city of Birmingham was a Muslim-only city where non-Muslims "don't go".

It was not immediately clear where Paris might sue Fox, a division of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.

Legal experts said the city faced an uphill legal fight, especially in the United States, which has strong protections for media against defamation and libel claims.

"Even if a judgment were obtained in France, it would be impossible under American law to enforce it here," said Robert Drechsel, a journalism professor who teaches media law at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Michael Clemente, Fox News' executive vice president of news, said in a statement on Tuesday: "We empathize with the citizens of France as they go through a healing process and return to everyday life. However, we find the mayor's comments regarding a lawsuit misplaced."

Gunmen on 7 January stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, killing 12 people to avenge cartoons they said had mocked Islam.