Protestorsstormed the newsroom of leading Frenchpay-TV network Canal Plus on Thursday, forcing the channel to abandonits afternoon and evening news broadcasts.

Theprotesters are the intermittents du spectacle - audiovisual workers includingactors, film directors, cameraman and other technicians, all of whom havetraditionally received financial support for a proportion of their periods ofunemployment - who are rallying together against cutbacks in their benefitssystem.

Despiteproposals made Wednesday by culture minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres in anattempt to calm an inflamed situation that has been ongoing since last summer,workers were not assuaged.

Theworkers' aim in targeting Canal Plus appears to be a demand for time on thechannel's broadcasts that will emanate from Cannes during the upcoming filmfestival.

Althoughthe culture minister's proposals were strategically timed to avoid possibleprotests at Cannes, a press release from the major organization set up todefend workers' rights said the minister "had only added fuel to thefire." The group asked to be granted "a daily intervention on Canal Plusduring the entire festival."

While fears within theindustry are that demonstrators could disrupt the general flow of the festivalby staging protests or even going so far as to halt screenings - something akinto what has happened at other French festivals over the past year - Cannes organizershave maintained that measures are in place to avoid any such disruptions.

The workers' representativessaid they would assure the respect of the films, directors, technicians andactors. However, they did add that the festival could "not go on as usual."