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French authorities ban TV and radio on-air mentions of Facebook and Twitter
BonjourParis France News Daily
Paris, June 4— French regulatory authority CAS (Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel or Higher Audiovisual Council, in English) has banned television and radio networks from mentioning social media outlets Twitter or Facebook on the air, claiming that such mentions are unlawful free advertising. Future mentions may only use the general term “social network.”
French media are closely monitored by the CSA, whose members are appointed by the French President.
AFP reported that the Council took up the case at the request of an unnamed television channel.
CSA claims it is neutrally enforcing a 1992 decree that makes it illegal for broadcast media to verbally or visually present goods, services, name, trademark or activities a producer of goods or service provides when such mentions are for advertising purposes. (Article 9 of the Decree of March 27, 1992). Source: Le novel Observateur
With many in France and the rest of the world getting their news first today via social media such as Twitter and Facebook, such a decision obviously benefits owners of TV networks that are losing viewers seeking immediate coverage of breaking news stories.
Le Figaro notes that France 2 public television uses social media to promote its upcoming scheduled programs.
In the US, reporters covering the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case were first to issue news alerts about courtroom activities via Twitter and Facebook.
French digital media expert and news publisher Benoit Raphael notes that the 1992 no-ad ban was created two years before the Internet was introduced in France.
Raphael said the CSA is out of touch, unaware that Twitter and Facebook are used by more than 25% of the French population.
Furthermore, Raphael adds, when President Nicolas Sarkozy met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the recent eG8 conference, it was the equivalent of two heads of state meeting. Zuckerberg’s Facebook community has over 600 million users, a population greater than that of the entire U.S.
President Sarkozy has a history of involvement in controversial cases involving the media and newspaper writers have been dismissed for publishing stories the president did not like. In a sensational 2005-2006 tussle, Alain Genestar claims he was dismissed by Paris Match for publishing photos of Cécelia Sarkozy with the man she would later marry.
In the future, announcers on-air may direct their viewers to their “social network” instead of the more direct “Like our Facebook page” or “follow us on Twitter.” They may not include the URL to sites.
Several French media stories noted that all major French media have Facebook and twitter accounts at their websites and they wonder if these must be removed as well.
Some French media outlets are poking fun at the ruling. Le JDD wrote the CSA is applying the same rules to Twitter and Facebook as applied to well known “fizzy drinks.”
“Why not also ban Youtube and DailyMotion? Google? Microsoft Messenger? They are also extensively quoted brands in the media,” wrote France Info tech columnist Jerome Colombain.
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