Charged with taking care, pursuant to article 3-1 of the law of September 30th, 1986 relating to the freedom of communication, “to the defense and the illustration of the language and the culture Frenchwomen”, the higher Council of audio-visual (CSA) recalls the provisions legal, lawful and conventional relating to the use of the French language to which the editors of services of television and radio are subjected.
I - Principle
The law of August 4th, 1994 relating to the use of the French language is the concrete translation of the constitutional principle according to which French is the language of the Republic. It imposes the obligatory use of the French language in the televised and radiophonic programs as within the framework of marketing and promotion, in particular by audio-visual way, of the goods and the services.
Introduced by article 12 of the law of August 4th, 1994, article 20-1 of the law of September 30th, 1986 affirms the necessary use of the French language on the antenna of the whole of the television services and radio, as well in their programs as within the advertising screens. This article poses the principle according to which “the employment of French is obligatory in the whole of the emissions and the advertisements of the organizations and services of radio or television, whatever their mode of diffusion or distribution”.
The specifications of the missions and of the companies of the public sector and the conventions concluded by the Superior council from audio-visual with the private operators reaffirm the principle posed in article 20-1 of the law, in particular while requiring of these companies to take care of a correct use of the French language in their emissions.
In this respect, without it being in its intention to impose the use of an official terminology, the CSA estimates that it is desirable that the personnel of the services of radio and television intervening with the antenna prefers, under the foreign terms, their equivalents in French devoted by the use.
The Superior council of audio-visual points out in addition that the provisions of the law of August 4th, 1994 relating to the use of the French language are not opposed to the use by audio-visual way of the regional languages of France (metropolis and overseas).
II - Exceptions
The principle according to which the use of French is obligatory in the televised and radiophonic programs is matched exceptions. In profit:
- cinematographic works and audio-visual in original version (first subparagraph of article 20-1 of the law of September 30th, 1986);
- musical works, including those inserted in advertisements, whose text is in whole or part in foreign language (second subparagraph of article 20-1 of the law);
- programs, parts of programs or advertisements included in the latter which are conceived to be completely diffused in foreign language (third subparagraph of article 20-1 of the law). The CSA, on the basis as of recommendations of the circular of the Prime Minister of March 19th, 1996 relating to the application of the law of August 4th, 1994, retains in particular for this reason, on the one hand, the programs suggested by foreign services received in France, on the other hand, those diffused by the national operators for foreign communities residing in France, finally, those intended for a diffusion out of France;
- the programs whose finality is the training of a language and the retransmissions of pertaining to worship ceremonies (third subparagraph of article 20-1 of the law).
III - It is obligatory to make use but nonexclusive
If the use of French is obligatory in the programs and the advertisements, the use of foreign languages is not banished, provided he is resorted to a translation in French, “as readable, audible or understandable as the presentation in foreign language” (fourth subparagraph of article 20-1 of the law of September 30th, 1986).
Applicable to the whole of the emissions, this provision more particularly finds place to apply out of advertising matter for reasons holding particularly with the consumer protection, who must be precisely informed on specificities of the goods or promoted services.
The CSA considers, in agreement with the circular of March 19th, 1996, that “a similarity of the two presentations and a parallelism of the modes of expression between the two versions are not required. Moreover, the translation can not be with the word for word one, since it remains in the spirit of the original text”. Consequently, on the one hand, the translation of mentions in foreign language can indifferently be verbal or written, on the other hand, it is not necessary that the French translation of mentions written in foreign language is laid out with the screen under similar conditions or that the characters used are of identical size or color.
Nevertheless, as well as precise the circular, the mention in foreign language does not have, “because of its size, its graphics, its color, its sound volume or for very other causes, being understood better than that established in French”. As it imports as the latter sufficiently approaches the presentation in foreign language to be able to be looked like “also readable, audible or understandable”.
IV - Typical case of the brands and the titles of emissions
It results from the last subparagraph of article 2 of the law of August 4th, 1994 that if the trademarks, of trade or service within the meaning of the articles L 711-1 and following of the Code of the intellectual property are not subjected to the provisions of the relative law to the use of the French language, the mentions and messages which accompany them there are subjected.
Thus, the mentions and messages in foreign language, when well even they would have been deposited with a brand, must be the object of a translation in as readable, audible or understandable French as the presentation in foreign language.
As regards brands themselves, the Council recalls that they can be deposited, recorded or used in France without translation. However, the public people and the individuals in charge of a public service mission cannot employ brands made up of a foreign term, since there exists a French term are equivalent approved within the framework as of regulations relating to enrichment of the French language (I of article 14 of the law of August 4th, 1994).
These provisions apply in particular under emissions which were the object of a deposit as brand.
Thus, the public companies of television and radio, at the same time subjected to the legislation on the limited companies and invested of a public service mission pursuant to article 43-11 of the law of September 30th, 1986, cannot allot to their emissions a title made up of foreign terms. Three exemptions however are envisaged by the law: titles of emissions whose these companies acquired the rights of diffusion and from which the design escapes to them; titles made up of a foreign term of which there does not exist any equivalent in French; the titles which were deposited as brand before August 7th, 1994.
The Superior council of audio-visual requests from the editors television services and the radio operator private ones to endeavour to use French in the title of their emissions. On the assumption that they would make the choice of a title in foreign language, the Council recommends a verbal or visual translation of this title for a good comprehension by the public.
The present recommendation will be published in the Journal officiel de la République française .
Consult the page of the Official journal