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Commercial communications


Ethical definition and rules

The decree of March 27th, 1992 defines publicity as “any form of televised message diffused subject to remuneration or another counterpart in sight is to promote the supply of goods or services, including those which are presented under their generic name, within the framework of a marketing activity, industrial, artisanal or of liberal profession, that is to say to ensure the sales promotion of a public enterprise or private”.

The messages of general interest emanating of administrative organizations, caritative or humane and interesting the whole of the population, do not present advertising character. They can however be diffused in the advertising screens. (See FAQ: Which are the rules which apply for the general interest campaigns?).

The Council takes care of the respect by the ethical diffusers of rules and can in particular sanction the diffusion of a misleading publicity, bearing reached with the human dignity or the public order, bearing damage with the minors or likely to shock the religious convictions, philosophical or policies of the televiewers.

Rules of diffusion of the advertisements

Insertion of the advertising screens in the emissions

The Council is particularly attentive with the methods of identification and insertion of the advertising screens in the programs. It is ensured thus that the diffusers comply with the rules relating to the interruption of cinematographic works and audio-visual.

One period of at least twenty minutes must be passed between two successive interruptions inside the same emission, and what it is of a cinematographic work, a audio-visual work (constitutive, or not, of a series, a serial or documentary) or about one intended program to youth.

Cinematographic works and audio-visual cannot be the object of more than two advertising breaks. And concerning cinematographic works, they must be limited to one six minutes duration on the whole.

However, diffusion of a audio-visual or cinematographic work by France Televisions, and that of a cinematographic work by the television services of cinema can be the object of no advertising break.

These provisions guarantee that advertising insertion takes place in harmony with the contents of the program, in particular at the time of its natural interruptions, in order to avoid the impromptu and premature interruption of a short speech, an interview or a musical service.

It goes from there differently when an emission is made up of autonomous parts, and for a sporting emission or broadcasting an event or a show including of the intervals. In these cases, the advertisements can be inserted between these autonomous parts or in these intervals without limitation amongst interruptions. See FAQ: Why does one see as much publicity during the films and the televised series?.

The time of antenna devoted to publicity

The CSA controls the time of antenna devoted to the programming of advertisements and intervenes with the chains in the event of going beyond the maximum duration of publicity fixed by conventions and the specifications of the missions and of the operators, under the conditions adopted by the decree of March 27th, 1992.

On the private channels, the time of antenna devoted to publicity is framed differently according to their diffusion mode:

  • on the chains diffused by terrestrial hertzian way (i.e. the DVB), it is limited to new minutes per hour on average daily on the whole of the periods of programming during which this diffusion is authorized, and at twelve minutes for one hour of clock given. In order to support their rise, the new chains of the DVB profit from rules reduced during deadline a seven years as from the date of the beginning of the emissions, the time devoted to publicity being only limited by the twelve minute old ceiling per hour of clock given. At the conclusion of this time, they will have to also respect the nine minutes duration per hour on average daily.
  • On the chains distributed by cable, by ADSL or diffused by satellite, the duration devoted to publicity is fixed by conventional way with the CSA. It cannot exceed twelve minutes for one hour of clock given.

The rules framing the duration of the advertisements are more strict on the public channels: this duration cannot exceed six minutes per hour on average daily, nor eight minutes for one hour of clock given.

Moreover, since January 5th, 2009, the chains of France Televisions (France 3 excluded Areas) should not diffuse any more publicity of 8 p.m. old brands at 6 o'clock in the morning. This prohibition applies only to publicity and thus does not relate to the messages of general interest, the advertisements generic (to promote apple, of the dairy products, etc) or sponsorships, which can continue to be diffused. See FAQ: Why does one still find publicity on the chains of France Televisions?.

Prohibited sectors of publicity

A certain number of sectors are prohibited of publicity on television, for ethical, of public health or economic reasons.

Alcoholic beverages

Publicity on television for drinks including more than 1.2 degree of alcohol is prohibited.

Concerning the possible presence of alcoholic beverages in programs, the CSA, in his deliberation of June 17th, 2008, strongly incites the editors diffusing of the programs evoking alcohol to sensitize the televiewers with the dangers which represents the alcohol abuse for health, in their indicating that it must be consumed with moderation.

Tobacco and products of the tobacco

The law of January 10th, 1991, known as law Évin, of which the provisions are integrated today into the Public health code, introduced a total prohibition of publicity and propaganda in favour of the products of the tobacco.

However, this prohibition can be isolated to make it possible the French diffusers to broadcast a mechanical test of sport proceeding abroad and comprising advertising panels in favour of products of the tobacco.


Publicity for a film in the course of exploitation in room or about to the being is prohibited on the TV channels, except for the services of cinema distributed by cable or diffused by satellite or terrestrial hertzian way in digital mode, as regards programs being the object of particular access terms. Promotion in advertising screens of the derived products of a film (video game, original soundtrack, figurine…) at the time of its exit into the room is also prohibited.

The programming of generic campaigns in favour of the cinema incentive the televiewers to attend the cinemas is authorized provided they do not comprise any reference to a film in the course of exploitation or an owner.

Clandestine publicity

Article 9 of the decree of the modified March 27th, 1992 qualifies clandestine publicity “the verbal or visual presentation of goods, services, name, brand or activities of a producer of goods or a service provider in programs, when this presentation is made with an advertising aim”.

It is a practice widespread and regularly sanctioned by the CSA. In the event of non-observance by the diffuser of the existing regulation, the Council has the possibility of initiating a procedure of sanction which can in particular lead to a financial sanction.

Any reference in emissions to goods or services therefore is not excluded, since it is of a nature of information.

A publicity is described as clandestine when goods, services or other brands are presented, apart from the advertising screens, and this with a “advertising aim”, i.e. with an aim not of informing, but of promoting.

The Council does not have to bring the proof that promotion was done subject to remuneration nor in an intentional way. It returns to him to on a case-by-case basis appreciate the various practices detected on the antennas, and to possibly intervene when one of those appears litigious to him.

The CSA has for this purpose of a beam indices:

  • the absence of plurality in the presentation of the goods, services or brands;
  • the kindness displayed towards such or such product;
  • the frequency of the quotation and/or the visualization of the product or the brand;
  • the indication of the address or the telephone contact or Internet of an advertiser;
  • the absence of any critical glance.

Other criteria can punctually be retained.

See also:

Why publicity is too strong?

Publicity with the radio

Learn more