Media & Elections : French CSA publishes 15 proposals
With a view to better reconciling freedom of communication with rules on political pluralism in the audiovisual media, the French regulatory authority (Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel - CSA) has published on 10 September 2015 15 proposals concerning the coverage of future election campaigns. The main objective of the proposals is to make the legal framework more flexible and give more trust and room for manoeuvre to the various players of the public debate.
Based on its findings on the elections held since 2012, the CSA announced in September 2014 its intention to assess the adequacy of laws and regulations with current issues pertaining to election campaigns in the media. Over the following months, as part of its working group on Pluralism and associations, the regulator has consulted many government officials, radio and television operators, political parties and experts in order to collect their views and take them into account.
Thus, the CSA proposes inter alia to:
Replace the principle of strict equity (“égalité”) in the speaking time of candidates by the less stringent principle of fairness ("équité") during the period known as "intermediary" of the campaign for the election of the President of the Republic (i.e. the period from the publication of the list of candidates until the start of the party political broadcasts "campagne officielle");
Exercise an advisory role during primary elections at the request of their organizers or radio and television service providers.
Postpone the "silent" or "purdah" period (which currently applies on the eve of the election) of 24 hours, allow the publication of polls until 12:00 on the eve of the election, and introduce a unified closure time for polling stations.
Concerning the implementation of the fairness principle ("principle d'équité"), the CSA notably proposes to continue applying it during a single period of six weeks before election day; broadcasters may however adopt a broader approach in the application of the fairness principle by taking into account all the elements on which they exercise their editorial responsibility.
With regard to European elections, in order to encourage the emergence of a EU public sphere, the CSA proposes to include in the calculation of the speaking time the debates in relation with the appointment of new European institutions, even if they emanate from foreign politicians.
As for the official audiovisual campaigns, the CSA proposes allowing candidates and political parties who so wish to produce party political broadcasts on their own; and allowing all radio and television service providers, even private ones, to broadcast party political broadcasts on the condition that they are broadcast in their entirely and under the conditions defined by the Council.
Source: CSA website