Here is a view from a someone actually on the spot in France, someone who lives and works there, a French citizen with remarkable English as his profession is translation.
TV : There are a number of programmes which debate current affairs. The invitees are not what I would consider “intellectuals” but people such as journalists (mostly left of centre and anti-Sarkozy), authors and specialists in the field being debated, such as politicians, economists, the head of the IPSOS the national survey institute etc .... You regularly see the same Parisian clique of “pseudo-intellectuals” on all the programmes, so it gets a tad repetitive. France has a “thing” about writers and authors (a relatively closed French language market so there is less quality competition) so everybody writes a book. Bernard-Henri Lévy is a modern day philosopher who is THE intellectual in France. Do not forget that all French kids study Philosophy in their last year at school and sit an examination for their Bac. Most kids (and parents) think it is a waste of time and money, but the teaching fraternity and the state use it as a tool to perpetuate France’s image as THE country of culture (eg a famous contemporary politician once said after admitting that English was THE global language: “English might be the language of business but French is the language of culture”. The height of intellectual recognition is the Academie Francaise which has 40 members, and when one dies the others elect a replacement. Where the UK created quangos France creates “Institutes” which cover all and any subject: try French googling. They have budgets, buildings, staff and nice salaries and perks. “Business” in all forms make financial contributions, whether wholly legal or not!! They have become the “French expert opinions” concerning their specific field, which includes them as intellectuals over here. But are they???
Radio: the above repeats itself for Radio. This medium has more heated debate and comment than TV as the spoken word has less emotional impact than when you see something happening. Again the cleavage left/right is pre-eminent. Most of the scandalous comments are made on the radio. Some would be taken to court in the UK. There are quite a few “phone-in “ programmes which cover a wide range of topics, and they can get quite heated. They can also be rude and offensive. For example, after the Peking Olympics, one well known sports commentator said, and I quote “ I heard, and this is not my opinion but I heard someone else say it, that the English track cyclists were doped. There is no way they can come from no medals four years ago and win so many gold medals when the French team that are strictly controlled and have dominated the sport, haven’t won any”.
The written press: in France has re-invented the tenet “the freedom of the press” to mean that they can write absolutely, and I mean absolutely anything without any proof whatsoever; it could be what they overheard in a bar the night before!! They ferociously defend the anonymity their sources, so the truth will never out. If anyone tries to unearth the truth, the industry closes ranks and screams “foul” how dare you question our integrity, for example the recent spat with the government about phone tapping and the scandal of the Princess Diana reporting. This also comes from the fact that there are very few decent newspapers in France. There are of course local newspapers which are different as they have no competition. The nationals are all from Paris and suffer from very obvious political bias and, Again, cliquiness!!!. The French like their magazines, in fact they invented the “top people mags” like /gala etc, my mother-in-law knows more about the royal families in Europe than anyone I have ever met!!
In general topical discussion in the media in France is not really intellectual, it involves the same participants and can suffer from chronic “nombrilisme”!!! I’ll leave you to make an adequate intellectual translation of that wonderful gallic word.
Interesting, but it sounds rather like someone upset that left-wing views also get an airing. I am guessing the chap's politics, but I am guessing he thinks the Economist and BBC are part of a left wing cabal.
I have heard from various English people in France that it is refreshing that people can be openly intellectual. Of course, that means the few are added to by chancers, whereas in England Intellectuals pretend not to be.
That said, from my limited insight (talking to Parisians and non-Parisians) I can believe the French media is more Paris-centric than ours is London-centric.