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Regulation of the audio-visual mediums at the time as of three electoral campaigns of the first half of 2014: elements of proposals

Publication date: Monday, September 8, 2014

Three polls followed one another during the first half of the year 2014: the election of the town councillors and the Community advisors March 23rd and 30th, the election of the members of the congress and the assemblies of province of New Caledonia on May 11th and the election of the representatives in the European Parliament May 24th and 25th.

At the conclusion of these electoral campaigns, the Council estimates that with regard to the elections other than that of the President of the Republic, a total reflection takes a lead in the adequacy of the legislative texts and lawful which frame the freedom of communication in election time with freedom to inform and the pluralist expression of the currents of thought and opinion.

He questions himself in particular, at the time of the multiplication of the information sources, on the relevance of the coexistence of a audio-visual sector fixed with strict rules under the control of the regulator and the little controlled sectors of the written press and of Internet whose obligations on the matter are incomparably more flexible.

From this point of view, two options can be considered:

  • the first considering that the services of radio and television preserve a particular impact on the formation of the opinion of the voters and on the determination of their vote which requires a specific legal mode;
  • the second considering that the strict legislative and lawful constraints which weigh on the radio and television constitute a brake with the free discussion which should prevail in a democratic space, and which they introduce an inequality of treatment between the modes of communication, as well as an inequality between the citizens in the access to information.

On the first assumption, the maintenance of the current device would preserve all its legitimacy if it protected indeed the voters from any external influence. Force is to note a variation growing between the will of the legislator to guarantee the sincerity of the poll by sanctuarisant the exercise of the right to vote and the technological developments and their uses.

On the second assumption, the recognition that the voters are in measurement, in a developed democracy, to exert their free-referee in any circumstance must result in revaluing the validity of the limits brought to the freedom of communication. Moreover, insofar as the audio-visual mediums would remain subjected, under the control of the regulator, with a logic of internal pluralism, this evolution would not exonerate them their responsibilities.

This reflection will have to relate initially to the obligations attached to the period known as “of reserve”, in particular those prohibiting the interventions “character of electioneering propaganda” the day before and the day poll or prohibiting the publication of surveys and any result these same days, which come under the legislative field.

It will have to also approach the framework fixed by the Council with the treatment of the electoral campaigns under the terms of its lawful power, as regards modes of enforcement of the principle of equity which governs the presentation and the access to the antenna of the candidates and the parties and political groupings which support them. 

In addition, this reflection could be the occasion to proceed to a re-examination of the conditions under which are organized the audio-visual official campaigns, in particular overseas.

The reflection of the Council is guided by the concern of being used the principle as pluralism. It is fixed for objective of sparing with the editors of services of radio and television the possibility of bringing to the listeners and to the televiewers who are the voters, information, the analyses and the comments most complete. Excessively strict rules have indeed as a consequence, to the detriment of the pluralism of the currents of thought and opinion, to dissuade the editors to treat challenges of the electoral campaigns and to call on political trainings and to the candidates.

To conclude this reflection, the Council wishes to associate the whole of the recipients (public authorities, editors, political parties) and to collect the contributions of qualified experts with it.

Lastly, the elements of reflection and proposals which follow are not worth necessarily for the election of the President of the Republic, on which, for the expiry of 2017, the Council will hold specific consultations in parallel.

Download below the text of the report of the CSA on the regulation of the audio-visual media at the time of the three election campaigns of the first half of 2014.

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Key dates

  • 1955 - First broadcast simultaneously on radio and TV official countryside at the time of the legislative elections

  • 1965 - First broadcast simultaneously on radio and TV official countryside for the presidential election

  • November 12th, 1969 - Adoption by the Board of directors of the ORTF of a directive which poses the principle of a pluralist access to the antenna

  • 1982 - Creation of the High ranking authority of the audio-visual communication (HACA)

  • 2000 - Definition by the Superior council of audio-visual of the “principle of reference as regards pluralism”