In the context of a consultation launched by the Prime Minister during summer, the Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel, (CSA), published its contribution on the envisaged merger between CSA and ARCEP, the two French regulatory authorities in charge of broadcasting and telecommunications, on 30 October 2012.
In order to draft its position, the CSA consulted with 40 experts and stakeholders and relied on benchmark studies as well as on the analysis of regulatory structures in foreign countries. Even though respondents were in favour of two separate regulatory frameworks, they emphasised the need for enhanced cooperation between CSA and ARCEP. Maintening two separate specialised Boards, preserving the independence of the converged body and maintening the strategic allocation of frequencies between the different sectors as a prerogative of Government are seen as prerequisites for any form of institutional convergence.
In the report, the CSA makes two proposals for institutional convergence:
The first step of the proposal suggests maintening the current regulatory structures, establishing a joint regulatory body with decision-making powers and introducing enhanced cooperation between departments. The second step proposes the creation of a single body, composed of two Boards and the merging of departments.
The second proposal suggests the creation of a single converged body governed by a single Board. The merging of the two Boards is however considered premature by some players who fear that economic and competition considerations would take precedence over cultural and societal concerns.
Background to CSA´s report: The French Prime Minister has asked several ministers to come up with proposals to ensure a coherent and effective regulatory framework for media and electronic communications. The debate will be based on the positions of ARCEP and CSA and will be coordinated with a report dealing with the issue of "cultural exception" conducted by Pierre Lescure. The position of the ARCEP was published in early October 2012.