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French Broadcasting Authority Bans “Free Advertising” for Facebook and Twitter

The board of the Conseil Supérieur de L'Audiovisuel

The French broadcasting authority has reminded television producers of their obligation not to name drop specific brands or trademarks as part of the French law on audio-visual advertising.

The Conseil Supérieur de L’Audiovisuel wrote an open letter to the broadcasting networks in which it welcomed integration with social networks to provide a rich experience for viewers. However, the CSA said that specifically nominating a brand to promote was tantamount to advertising and in contravention of Article 9 of Decree No. 92-280 of 27th March 1992.

French advertising law prohibits the verbal or visual presentation of goods, services, names, trademarks or activities of a producer of goods or a provider of services in programs unless doing so is specifically part of the program or news story.

Facebook and Twitter both benefit from a large amount of free advertising in other countries where even government departments and bus companies encourage citizens and customers to “find us on Facebook and Twitter”. The objections of the CSA point to the fact that both companies are money making operations and benefit in the millions from such support.

In a series of interviews following a rigorous debate in France, Christine Kelly defended the actions of the CSA saying that the authority does not make the law, but it does uphold it, and that the mention of trademarks on air in France is heavily regulated. She compared French advertising law, which strictly limits the time alloted to advertising, with US advertising law which permits product placement and interruptive advertising slots.

Ms Kelly also underlined the approach to competition at the CSA, questioning why television networks should mention specific brands and trademarks which are ubiquitous, when there are many other networks struggling to compete. She said that the CSA had the support of internet users, who had long ago identified that illegal advertising of Twitter and Facebook had been taking place.

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Editors and staffers from the Technology Desk at The Global Herald.

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