French TV, radio programs slapped with social media restriction

French TV Channel slappedThe “social networking age” prevailing in France seems to have taken a step back as a decree from the early 1990’s has found its way back in the form of reimplementation by the French regulators. The controversy was sparked by an unnamed French TV channel when they approached France’s Superior Audiovisual Council to know if they had the right to direct viewers to social sites. The decree by the Council has banned ‘clandestine advertising’, the promotion of a brand outside the boundaries of recognized publicity avenues and also French television and radio announcers naming social networking sites on air except for news purposes. The ruling has prohibited French programs to urge viewers or listeners to follow them on specific social sites.

Christine Kelly, spokeswoman of the council stated that Facebook and Twitter are commercial brands like Coca-cola or L’Oreal or any other and that many social sites existed on many topics and why should only one be mentioned and not the others. French bloggers have shown strong opposition to the decree on Twitter and some have even composed tongue-in-cheek ways to get round the ban. She further emphasized that cultural differences need to be taken into account and there exist many rules in France which doesn’t exist anywhere else. She explained saying that in the US there existed product placement which was prohibited in France.

Matthew Fraser, a social networking expert and author of the “Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom” believes it could be a ban as a sign of defiance against Anglo-Saxon cultural domination. In his opinion the regulation came through as the sites symbolized the United States.

In 2003, the word “e-mail” was forbidden in government literature due to the Toubon law which protects the purity of the French language from anglicized words and phrases. But the Council insisted that this ban was not linked to language purity.

What surprised many is the timing of the ban as it comes at the heels of the e-G8 internet summit held at Paris at which President Nicolas Sarkozy met with the Facebook founder and the youngest billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg.

Report by Sumit