Twitter, Facebook, and the CSA: a Strange Story of Conservatism
The French Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel ruled that “follow us on Twitter” or “check us out on our Facebook page” amounted to implicit publicity and was therefore contrary to a 1992 Decree prohibiting “clandestine” publicity. Article 9 of the Decree forbids the visual or verbal reference to any product, service, name, brand, or activity from any producer or service provider in TV programs when the visual or verbal reference shows an advertising purpose.
The CSA explained that directing the public to web pages on social networks was mainly informative, while expressly referring to a Facebook page or tweet relating to specific TV shows or programs was publicity instead.
Quoted by the Guardian, CSA spokeswoman Christine Kelly explains: “why give preference to Facebook, which is worth billions of dollars, when there are other social networks that are struggling for recognition. This would be a distortion of competition. 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?’”
Interestingly enough, the dictionary “Robert Illustré 2012,” which is updated every year to reflect the evolution of the French language, just incorporated “Facebook” and “tweet” as words. The truth is, the diversity, beauty of the French language, and its preservation throughout the years is part of what we could call “patrimoine.” I can relate to the imperative of preserving that diversity, and I can understand why a barrage to the seemingly unstoppable incorporation of English/American words into French vocabulary can be seen as essential. However, I must confess that any public effort made to educate French people into not using English or American words has received embarrassing ridicule.
Years ago, the French Academy – the authority on the becoming of the French language – had rejected “email” as a word and had tried to impose instead “courriel,” a derivative from the French word for mail “courrier.” The Academy has no legal power and no need to say that no one in France actually uses “courriel” for “email.” Except news anchors.