PARIS    -  The anti-government Yellow Vests protests have been dominating national headlines in France since mid-November. A major French TV network gave a gentle, yet controversial, touch to the protesters’ narrative, which was exposed by the eagle-eyed audience.

France 3, the nation’s second-largest public TV channel, was accused of violating freedom of speech after it emerged that a recent news broadcast featured a doctored photo of a Yellow Vests’ protest.

The image in question, supplied by French news agency AFP, shows a protester with a placard reading, “Macron” with a blank space under the president’s name. However, it appeared that the banner on the original AFP photo was saying “Macron Out” — something that gives it a whole new meaning.

The France 3 news anchor that cited the retouched photograph brought her apologies to the viewers for what she called “a human error”. “We have identified its origin. It will not happen again”, she pledged.

It seems, however, that some were not satisfied with the channel’s apology.

“Open the photo on Photoshop by mistake, take the eraser tool by mistake, delete ‘out’ by mistake, save the modified photo by mistake, project it on the screen by mistake, watch France 3 by mistake… It won’t happen again”, a user tweeted.

Several angry French viewers said that they had filed a complaint with France’s broadcasting authority, the Superior Council of the Audiovisual (CSA). Thierry Mariani, a French MP and former minister, likened France 3’s faux pas to “North Korea’s propaganda” and asked who was responsible for the move.

FRENCH PROTESTS COST SHOPPING MALLS BILLIONS IN LOST REVENUES: TRADE UNION

French shopping malls have lost billions of euros in missed revenues after five weeks of protests scared away Christmas shoppers, the National Council of Shopping Centers (CNCC) said Monday.

“Visitor numbers this weekend again dropped by over 10 percent compared to 2017… The days left before Christmas will not offset the losses, estimated at 2 billion euros [$2.3bln],” the statement reads.

Tunisian riot police face residents of the southeastern Tunisian town of Ben Guerdane

The trade association said malls had experienced the fifth weekend of falling sales last Saturday since “yellow vest” protesters first rallied across the country in mid-November.

Weekend demonstrations in Paris and other cities closed stores and public attractions, including France’s famous landmarks, the Eiffel Tour and Louvre, as thousands took to the streets in a show of anger against a rise in fuel prices and then against high living costs.

The “yellow vests” rallies, which initially opposed the increase in gasoline prices, began on November 17. They have been marked by violent clashes with police officers, who have used tear gas and rubber bullets against the protesters.