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Just in case you didn’t believe the headline, I will have to say it again – after all it is worth repeating. That’s right, the French government are banning the use of the words ‘Twitter’ and ‘Facebook’ from being spoken on television or radio news programmes.
In accordance to a 1992 decree, commercial enterprises should not be promoted on news programmes and the French government have decided to uphold this stance. Before you say, “je ne comprends pas”, let’s have a look at what’s happened.
The broadcasting regulation organisation for France is the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA). They have banned the words ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’ from being used casually when broadcasting on television or radio. This is specifically aimed at stamping out broadcasters asking audiences to ‘follow us on Twitter’ or ‘leave us a Facebook message’, thus preventing broadcasters from engaging and interacting with their viewers.
According to reports [See: Twitter and Facebook reminders banned from French airwaves | Guardian] the only context these words can be spoken is if and when these companies are in the news for whatever reason.
A spokeswoman for the CSA, Christine Kelly has said, “Why give preference to Facebook, which is worth billions of dollars, when there are other social networks that are struggling for recognition. This would be a distortion of competition. If we allow Facebook and Twitter to be cited on air, it’s opening a Pandora’s box. Other social networks will complain to us, saying ‘Why not us?'”
Such a stance is clearly going to put French news broadcasters at a distinct disadvantage when trying to engage listeners or viewers to interact with the show – something that has become common place form many news programmes across Europe and the rest of the world.
It’s another story in a long line of clashes between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the internet leaders of the world. A few weeks ago, we reported on the e-G8 conference in France, where Nicolas Sarkozy had been trying to convince the likes of Google’s Eric Schmidt on the need for internet regulation [See: Internet Leaders Bite Back at Sarkozy].
What is bizarre about this latest stance is the use of a decree that was initially issued ten years before social networking existed, so why do they feel it is necessary for today’s media? Well some people are calling this resentment towards Anglo-Saxon cultural domination. But what do you think? Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.