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France presents public audiovisual reform bill

On October 22, 2008, at the Council of Ministers, French Minister of Culture and Communication Christine Albanel presented a bill on audiovisual communication and a new audiovisual public service.

According to a press release, during her speech before the Council of Ministers, Albanel reiterated the public service missions of France Télévisions as described in the bill regarding audiovisual communication and the new public audiovisual service: “to unite, inform, instruct, and promote the fundamental values of our national community.” The obligations contained in the bill mainly address “culture, information, and French and European citizenship.” The press release adds that the bill also describes the mission of the new group tasked with external audiovisual “which must promote French and francophone culture abroad and broadcast the French perspective on current event around the world.”

Below is a summary of the bill’s major points. For more details, please consult the press release and press kit prepared by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.

The bill on public audiovisual reform basically revolves around the following major themes:

  • The end of advertising on France Télévisions airwaves according to specific terms and a schedule starting January 5, 2009. Lost advertising revenue will be compensated for by the state.
  • A reorganizing of public audiovisual companies through which “France Télévisions will become one single company with different networks.” The bill includes the implementation of a process of appointment by order-in-council for presidents of France Télévisions, Radio France, and the company tasked with external audiovisual.
  • The transposition of the European “Services de médias audiovisuals” directive. The bill “defines new, modern modes of audiovisual program consumption that go beyond traditional television—modes known as on-demand audiovisual media service (AVMS).” The press release states that the legal framework applied to these services will set objectives for promoting works and contributing to production and creation.
  • A possible second cut to advertising in films and television fiction.
  • The possibility for government to reform by ordinance the governance of Centre national de la cinématographie (CNC) and film law.

The French Ministry of Culture and Communications press release concludes as follows: “Minister Albanel ended her speech by underscoring the need to adapt our legislation and regulatory framework to an audiovisual landscape that has changed radically in recent years with the arrival of the Internet and TNT (Télévision Numérique Terrestre). Audiovisual production and financing must be reconsidered—

  • In terms of the relationship between different stakeholders in the audiovisual sector, who currently operate according to an obsolete legal framework which dates back to 2001.
  • To promote advertising investment in television by making the 1992 decree more flexible. Networks could offer more airtime to advertisers. As the major funders of creation in France, the entire sector will benefit.”

For more information on this bill, please consult the French Ministry of Culture and Communication press release and press kit.