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Fired chief hijacks French TV

Ousted chairman of Canal Plus hijacks airwaves to complain about "unfair dismissal".

Regular programmes on French station Canal Plus were interrupted yesterday when Pierre Lescure, the firm’s ousted chairman, hijacked the airwaves to protest against his sacking.

Mr Lescure claimed he was unfairly dismissed by Jean-Marie Messier, chief executive of Vivendi Universal, which owns Canal Plus.

Mr Lescure openly criticised Mr Messier live on air, before the station managers managed to cut him off and switch to the weather forecast.

“Messier gave the management 24 months to turn round the station’s finances and fired them one month later… How can we trust a guy who can’t count up to 24?” Lescure asked.

The forced departure of Lescure follows last week’s resignation of Denis Olivennes, the second in command at Canal Plus, and has fuelled speculation of a management crisis at Vivendi Universal.

The row increases the pressure on Jean-Pierre Messier who appeared on state television yesterday to personally defend his actions. Vivendi's share price has fallen by 37% this year and he is likely to come under fire from shareholders at next week's annual meeting over the management changes at Canal Plus and a controversial options package for executives.

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