A brief introduction to the media industry landscape of France.

Media Industries Assessment 2

The Media Industry Landscape of France

 

The Media Industry landscape of France is very much like that of the UK. Dominant mediums such as TV and Radio monopolise the market and play a central role in the lives of many French citizens.

Television is France’s most popular medium (BBC News, 2017). On average, the French watch around 3½ hours of Television per day (Statista). As I mentioned previously, TV is part of a triumvirate of mediums that dominate the French landscape. Under President Charles De Gaulle in the mid-1990s, the amount of television sets being sold proliferated by around 1million each year. Amidst the backdrop of World War 2, a ‘Monopoly of the Airwaves’ was instigated by the French government in 1945. Only Public stations had the licence to broadcast and, despite their best efforts, peripheral public stations couldn’t infiltrate the market (Inaglobal).

There is a broad mix of both Privately and Publicly owned channels within the market. Public Broadcaster ‘France Television’, that we’d most closely align with the BBC, is funded by the TV Licence Fee and Advertising revenue. Founded in 1992, and currently employing over 11,000 people, France TV is the nation’s most popular television station. Via the TV Licence and its revenue from Advertising; the station makes around £2.6m annual profit (Wikipedia). Of course, with being a Public Service broadcaster, this ‘profit’ is widely reinvested into the business to provide a greater service to the consumer.

Governance of French Television was something that came into contention during the 1960s. The government where incessant on giving French Television ‘proof of autonomy’. However, in 1964 an Act was passed to initiate the Office for French Radio and Television. The board of directors were hereby responsible for the regulation and governance of TV and Radio in France (Inaglobal). Now though, the regulatory policies are slightly different. The regulation now relies on three main parties. These are; The Government, who design broadcasting policy, draft broadcasting laws and issue decrees to enforce these laws. Parliament is responsible for passing said laws and controlling funding of public broadcasters. And finally the High Council for Broadcasting grants licences to private broadcasters, appoints the heads of public broadcasters and oversees the programming activities of all broadcasters (Libbrecht, L. -Broadcast Legislation in France).

This current set of regulatory bodies was implemented in the 1986 Law on Freedom of Communication. In addition to those mentioned above, two other groups input on the regulation of TV in France. These are; ‘The Department of Media Development’ and ‘The National Centre for Cinema’. Again, these two forces combine to implement regulation and governance across the French TV Landscape.

In addition to Television, the French Press also accounts for a large share in the media market. There are over 100 daily newspapers that circulate through France. The French have long been perceived to have a ‘strong tradition and independent journalism’. In recent years though, ‘defamation cases, intrusive new security laws’ and ‘editorial pressure on journalists’ have contributed to concerns about diminishing media freedom (Freedomhouse). As such, the French press plays a considerably small role than that of the UK Newspaper industry. The market is characterised by a distinct lack of daily newspapers that one may come to expect in the UK. On a positive though, France is said to also have a lack of ‘frivolous, muck-raking, tabloid journalism which sadly is so popular in the UK (AboutFrance).

The readership and circulation of French newspapers has slowly diminished over the years and is continuing to do so. Almost all of the French newspapers have ‘lost readers’ since 2000. The fall has supposedly increased since 2011 due to the ‘decline in disposable income’ throughout the Country. This decline must have been drastic when you consider the average price of a Newspaper is 50p in the UK. Another factor contributing to the current demise of French Newspapers is the rise of free papers; like Metro in the UK. The free papers, often funded by advertising and grants, provide all the information you could wish for – but crucially at no expense. This, amongst other factors like disposable income and the internet, are threatening the existence of some of the country’s oldest Newspapers – such as Le Monde and Liberation (AboutFrance).

Community Radio is a prominent media outlet in France. France was one of the first European nations to introduce a ‘regulatory and funding framework’ for Community Radio. This fund subsidises over 500 Community stations throughout the country. As a means of collating funds for the Funding Framework, commercial stations ‘pay a levy on their commercial revenues into the Support Fund for Local Radio Expression’. Many Community stations throughout the nation rely on the fund for crucial financial subsidisation. Community stations in France date back to the 1970s. Since then, they have been prevalent in the media landscape of the country. The community-ran mediums offer a different viewpoint to that of the Government-owned Private Sector media outlets (Buckley, L.- Community Media Handbook).

The largely privately-owned nature of the media in France leads us to question its trustworthiness and reliability. Can the French really assume that what their media conveys is true? Are they getting a truly reflected image of the world or just a refraction? I would surmise that such a narrow scope of media will project a skewed and distorted image – not a truthful one.

 


References:

BBC News, 2017 – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17299010

Inaglobal – https://www.inaglobal.fr/en/television/article/television-history-french-exception

Statista – https://www.statista.com/statistics/381558/daily-television-viewing-time-of-individuals-in-france/

Libbrecht, L. – Broadcast Legislation in France – https://www.persee.fr/doc/reso_0969-9864_1995_num_3_2_3299#reso_0969-9864_1995_num_3_2_T1_0283_0000

Freedomhouse – https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2017/france

AboutFrance- https://about-france.com/french-newspapers.htm

Buckley, L. – Community Media Hanbook – http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002150/215097e.pdf

 

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