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Opinion n° 2017-05 of February 22nd, 2017 on the bearing decree project modification of the specifications of the national companies of programs France Televisions, Radio France and of the company in charge of the audio-visual outside of France

Publication date: Monday, February 27, 2017


The Superior council of the audio-visual one,

Considering the law n° 86-1067 of the modified September 30th, 1986 relating to the freedom of communication, in particular its articles 9 and 48;

Considering the decree of the bearing November 13th, 1987 approval of the books of the missions and loads of the Radio France company and National institute of the audio-visual one;

Considering the decree n° 2009-796 of June 23rd, 2009 fixing the specifications of the national company of program France Televisions;

Considering the decree n° 2012-85 of January 25th, 2012 fixing the specifications of the national company of program in charge of the audio-visual outside of France;

Considering the sasine of the ministry for the culture and communication of the bearing January 2nd, 2017 on a bearing decree project modification of the specifications of the national companies of program France Televisions, Radio France and company in charge of the audio-visual outside of France;

Considering the rectifying sasine of the ministry for the culture and communication of the bearing February 6th, 2017 on a decree project modifying the specifications of the national companies of program France Televisions, Radio France and the company in charge of the audio-visual outside of France;

After having deliberated on February 22nd, 2017 on it,

Emits the following opinion, which relates on the one hand to the operating rules of the committees relating to honesty, the independence and the pluralism of information and the programs and, on the other hand, on the reinforcement of the provisions of the specifications of France Televisions as regards respect of the rights and freedoms. It books the possibility of formulating later on observations on the other draft amendments of the specifications of the national companies of program raising as well of sasine of January 2nd as of sasine of February 6th referred to above, like on other sets of themes likely to concern these specifications:

The law n° 2016-1524 of November 14th, 2016 aiming at reinforcing freedom, independence and pluralism in the mediums introduced into the law of September 30th, 1986 article 30-8 which provides that a committee relating to honesty, the independence and the pluralism of information and programs made up of independent personalities must be instituted near any editor of radio general practitioner with national vocation or television who diffuses, by terrestrial hertzian way, of the political and general data transmission. 

The modifications of the specifications of the national companies of program proposed by the Government in particular aim at defining the procedure of these committees.

The Council notes that other provisions of the above mentioned law have authority to apply to the public editors like private and thus books the possibility of enacting general rules suitable for apply to the national companies of program. 

With regard to the installation of committees relating to honesty, with the independence and the pluralism of information and programs

The Council notes that the ethics committees are a central part of the device wanted by the legislator. This is why it wishes to make a certain number of remarks and of proposals to improve its operation and to guarantee its effectiveness. 

The Council takes note of the choice retained in the decree project to create a committee by national company of program. He considers however that when a company or a group publishes a significant number of poles of diffusion, he could be useful not to limit himself to only one authority. It estimates moreover that it would be justified to create a specific committee to each service of information uninterrupted, because of the specificity of the programming of this kind of service with the glance as of goals pursued by the law. 

The text project provides that each committee is composed of five members, named by the board of directors, which appoints among them the president. The Council considers that the number of members should be higher since the field of competence of the committee, by nature various, is broad. In addition, it estimates preferable that the members of the committee, independent with regard to the editor pursuant to the law, are themselves charged to appoint their president. Moreover, it appears desirable that the same person cannot exert more than two consecutive mandates, in order to reconcile continuity and renewal in the composition of these authorities. 

In order to supplement the cases and methods of revocation of the members, the Council suggests that the committee can propose to the board of directors to put an end to the mandate of a member who would not respect the criteria of independence fixed at the second subparagraph of article 30-8. The possibility of revoking, at the request of the committee, one of its members in the event of repeated absences could also be envisaged.

The decree project gives the possibility to the board of directors of the company of allotting an allowance to the members of the committee. The Council considers that this allowance, which constitutes a form of remuneration, is not compatible with the independence which sticks to their statute. 

The text provides that the committee meets once at least per civil six-month period, of the meetings also being able to be organized at the request of its president or of the majority of his members. Considering the importance of the missions which are entrusted to him and the number of sasines or consultations which it is likely to have to treat, in particular when he is competent on several poles of diffusion, it seems essential that more regular meetings are fixed. The Council proposes consequently that the committee meets at least once per quarter. For reasons of effectiveness of the role of the committee, he proposes in addition that each one of its members can ask for the registration of one file the agenda of a meeting. 

The decree project provides finally that the committee can hear any person whose hearing appears to him likely to light it. The Council proposes to also open the possibility to him of being made communicate any document likely to clarify its work or research, in the respect of the secrecies protected by the law.

The Council in addition proposes to supplement the decree project on the following aspects. 

He considers first of all necessary to surround the taking of evidence of the files by the committee of warranties of confidentiality in particular with respect to the leader bodies. The following provision could thus be usefully retained: “ It guarantees the anonymity of any person who calls some at the committee if this one requires it. »

In addition, the calendar of publication and the contents of the annual report could be specified in the following terms:

« The annual report must be published in the 3 months following the past year. It mentions in particular amongst requests treated during the year, amongst files transmitted to the Superior council of the audio-visual one, and it gives an account of the results of the deliberations of the committee. It draws up a state of the means put at the disposal of committee and exposes the difficulties of any nature with which this last could be confronted in the exercise of its missions. ».

The Council estimates finally that to give to the committee the opportunity of publishing some of its decisions could contribute to the effectiveness of its action.

With regard to the reinforcement of the provisions of the specifications of France Televisions as regards respect of the rights and freedoms

The Council approves the modifications of articles 35 and 36 of the specifications of France Televisions brought by articles 6 and 8 of the decree project which correspond to the proposals that he formulated in his opinion n° 2016-9 of May 4th, 2016.

The Council proposes however that the drafting of article 8 of the decree project is clarified. Indeed, the text appearing in the 2° of article 8, presented like an addition, appears already in the 5° of article 36 of the specifications of France Televisions. A modification about the subparagraphs of article 36 not seeming useful, it proposes thus that is removed the 2° of article 8 of the decree project.

 

These opinion will be published in the Journal officiel de la République française.

Fact in Paris, on February 22nd, 2017

For the Superior council of the audio-visual one:
The President,
Olivier SCHRAMECK