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IRIS 2017-5:1/19

France

Publication of Decree laying down rules applicable to the new ethical committee at each national public-sector audiovisual company

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Amélie Blocman

Légipresse

The Decree of 21 March 2016 amending the terms of reference of the national public-sector audiovisual companies lays down the common rules applicable to the new ethical committees established at each of the national programming companies (France Télévisions, Radio France, and the company responsible for the audiovisual sector outside France). The ‘Media Independence’ Act of 14 November 2016 added to the Act of 30 September 1986 an Article 30-8, which provides for the founding of a committee on honesty, independence and diversity in news and programmes, whose members are independent, including each television editor broadcasting political and general news terrestrially, and each generalist radio station broadcasting nationwide. Referrals may be made to these committees by “the governing bodies of the editor, by any mediator, or by any person” to obtain a pronouncement on observance of the demands they supervise.

Adopting the recommendations contained in the opinion delivered by the national audiovisual regulatory body (Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel - CSA) on 22 February  2017, the text leaves it to the board of directors of the editor in question to determine the exact number of members of its ethical committee (between 5 and 7), who elect their own chair. The company’s board of directors may, on its own initiative or on the basis of a proposal from the committee, terminate the mandate of any member who has failed to refrain from publicly adopting any position on matters currently under investigation, or who has failed to observe the confidential nature of its deliberations. As recommended by the CSA, there is no intention that the committee’s members should be remunerated, although they may obtain the reimbursement of travel and accommodation expenses incurred in the context of their duties.

The committee is to meet “at least” once every half-year, whenever its chair or a majority of its members so request. Any member may ask for an item to be put on the agenda, and the committee may hear any person it considers to be of use and, protected by confidentiality as afforded by law, may request communication of any document likely to elucidate relevant issues. It also guarantees anonymity for anyone consulting it, should the person so request. The committee’s annual report, indicating applications handled and cases passed on to the CSA, will be made public.

References
Décret n° 2017-363 du 21 mars 2017 portant modification des cahiers des charges des sociétés nationales de programme France Télévisions, Radio France et de la société en charge de l'audiovisuel extérieur de la France FR
 http://merlin.obs.coe.int/redirect.php?id=18500
 
  Decree No. 2017-363 of 21 March 2017 amending the terms of reference of the national programme companies France Télévisions, Radio France and the company responsible for the audiovisual sector outside France