The Law of December 20 2016 concerning the abolition of commercial advertising during youth programmes broadcast on French public television has been adopted by Parliament and will enter into force on January 1 2018.
While a Green Party senator proposed a similar ban in 2010, the bill was never added to Parliament's agenda and consequently was never been debated. This idea resurfaced on the initiative of another Green Party senator, who submitted his proposal on July 24 2015.
The purpose sought by the legislature is to protect children under 12 years old (regarded as a particularly sensitive and vulnerable audience) from the advertising pressure to which they are allegedly exposed. One of the negative effects highlighted in the proposal is the rise in obesity. Surveys have showed that a large majority is in favour of the ban.
Pursuant to this new law, two articles of the Act of September 30 1986 on the freedom of communication have been amended.
Starting from January 2018, the 1986 act, as amended, will provide that commercial advertising cannot be broadcast on French public television 15 minutes before, during and 15 minutes after the airing of a programme targeted at children under the age of 12, with the exception of generic messages relating to health, child development or public interest campaigns. This ban applies not only to messages broadcasted on television, but also to all websites of French public television companies (Article 53 (VIbis)).
A report assessing the actions taken by French public television to comply with this new obligation and providing recommendations to enhance self-regulation in the advertising industry will be submitted to Parliament each year by the French Audiovisual Council (Article 14).
This new ban applies only to the channels and websites of French public television, not private television companies, despite the attempt of a Communist senator to widen the ban. Nonetheless, the content of advertising messages broadcast by all television companies subject to French regulation during programmes targeting young viewers will be regulated by decrees adopted by the Council of State. This provision is not a radical change from existing French law, as Article 27 of the 1986 act already provides that the general obligations regarding advertising which must be followed by television companies will be defined by decrees issued by the Council of State. Pursuant to this article, a decree dated March 27 1992 was passed to regulate advertising broadcasted on television; notably, the decree provides that advertising must not cause moral or physical detriment to minors (Article 7).
Television companies broadcasting from foreign countries will not be subject to any future obligations adopted by the Council of State.
The revenue shortfalls for French television linked to this ban has been estimated at around €20 million a year.
Unions of scriptwriters (Guilde française des scénaristes, AGrAF and Groupe 25 images) expressed their concerns during the adoption of this ban, which they said could render a sector which is already in a worrying situation even more fragile.
For further information on this topic please contact Antoine Jacquemart at Nomos by telephone (+33 01 43 18 55 00) or email ([email protected]). The Nomos website can be accessed at www.nomosparis.com.