France bans Twitter and Facebook namedrops
Whether it’s a Facebook comment controversial enough to get mentioned on air, or just running tweets that appear at the bottom of the screen throughout a live debate, it is commonplace, and almost expected these days that social media is including in mainstream television program.
In Australia, the ABC’s Q&A program on ABC1 actively uses Twitter to field comments and questions from the public, while the station’s radio station Triple J directs listeners to its Facebook page to submit song requests.
However, the same can no longer happen in France, where French officials have banned any mention of specific social media platforms unless they are integral to a story.
The French government’s broadcast authority, the Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA) issued a ban under a 1992 decree that does not permit the advertising or promotion of private business on programs as it is deemed either as blatant or subliminal promotion, and is seen as unfair to other similar networks.
Christine Kelly, a spokeswoman for the CSA said in an interview with The Guardian: “Why give preference to Facebook, which is worth billions of dollars, when there are other social networks that are struggling for recognition”.
With the ban in place, French media programs can no longer promote their Twitter page or direct viewers and listeners to Facebook sites. “This would be a distortion of competition,” explained Kelly. “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?’”
Back home, it is interesting to note that while the ABC is a commercial-free broadcaster, promotion of various programs’ Twitter and/or Facebook page is highly prevalent, even though the station’s editorial policies “allow commercial references only if they are editorially relevant and are not unduly frequent or prominent”, as quoted in a report by The Age,
Sally Culkoff, an ABC spokeswoman said in the same report that the ABC’s policies had been recently revised. “In order to inform our audiences about our presence on social media sites, we need to tell them where we are. Its editorially relevant to do that”.