It has been five years since the French government decided to ban advertising at night for public-service television channels. Indeed Article 28 of law No. 2009-258, dated March 5, 2009, prohibited the broadcasting of advertisement from 8.00 PM to 6.00 AM on all French state-held channels.

This regulation, however, has recently been the subject of debate. The main French public service broadcaster, France Télévisions, has recently called for a lift of the ban, and at the end of August 2014 requested “the return of advertising during half time at major sports events during the evening“. The underlying reason for this request was that government compensation, given to public channels in consideration for the advertising ban, has recently been significantly lowered. As a consequence, broadcasters are now looking for a boost in their advertising revenues.

Is this likely to lead to a change in the legislation? The French Minster of the budget has not excluded this possibility. In fact, in 2009 the French government put in place two new taxes in order to offset the loss of income, on telecoms operators and on private TV channels. The European Commission is currently considering whether these taxes distort competition, in which case they could be suppressed. As a result, the French minister of the budget is considering the return to advertising on public channels, in the event that the taxes are suppressed.