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IRIS 2019-1:1/17

France

CSA orders Canal Plus to broadcast message

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Amélie Blocman

Légipresse

At 7 a.m. on 22 December 2017, the TV channel Canal Plus broadcast a programme about Togo, explaining in particular that this African state, in which Vincent Bolloré, the channel’s owner at the time, has numerous interests, has “modern infrastructure” and “an ambitious development policy that encourages investment from all over the world”. The programme, which was just under seven minutes long and resembled an “infomercial”, had not been listed in the schedule and did not contain any opening or closing credits. Viewers were therefore uninformed about its nature or its purpose. As a result, the national audiovisual regulatory authority (the Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel - CSA) opened an investigation.

Following the investigation, it became clear that no information had been given concerning the origin of the images shown, some of which had come from the state’s own corporate films. The channel had previously been issued with a formal notice requiring it to respect the integrity of information, in accordance with its licence. Indeed, Article 15 of the licence stated that: “The integrity requirement applies to all programmes broadcast by the service. The company will verify the validity and sources of information. As far as possible, its origin must be indicated. Uncertain information must be reported in the conditional tense.” Furthermore, under Article 51 of the licence, “if the obligations laid down in this licence are breached, the Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel may order that a message be broadcast under terms and conditions that it shall lay down”.

In view of the circumstances, the CSA considered that the broadcast of the disputed programme, without viewers being given any context or information about its origin, constituted a breach of the channel’s licence.

The CSA therefore punished the channel by ordering that a message be read out on Canal Plus “by a presenter in a studio once, not at the weekend, in the free-to-air programmes of the Canal+ service, within eight days of it being notified of the CSA decision”. The channel broadcast the message at 8.15am on 31 October on CNews, the group’s news channel.

References
Décision du CSA du 24 octobre 2018 portant sanction à l'encontre de la société d'édition de Canal Plus FR
 http://merlin.obs.coe.int/redirect.php?id=19361
 
  CSA decision of 24 October 2018 sanctioning the Canal Plus television channel