In the context of a consultation launched by the Prime Minister during summer, ARCEP, the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Post, published its position on the merger between the CSA and ARCEP, the two French regulatory authorities in charge of broadcasting and telecommunications, on 2 October 2012.
ARCEP underlines that an in-depth review of the principles and objectives of regulation, especially with regard to broadcasting regulation, is a prerequisite for an institutional reform and stresses that such a reform deserves to be carefully thought through.
In its report, ARCEP identifies three scenarios for a review of broadcasting regulation and looks at their impact on the structure of regulatory authorities:
A status quo with regard to broadcasting regulation objectives, while attempting to widen the scope of regulation to Internet players, would only require improved cooperation between CSA and ARCEP (e.g. through the creation of a joint Board for both institutions).
In the event of an increased economic dimension of regulation, the enhanced economic regulatory function could be assigned to ARCEP, while the CSA would continue to focus on broadcast regulation.
Merging the two regulators, thus following the British Ofcom model, would require an increase in the scope of the new authority with additional powers in the field of competition and of radio spectrum management (currently assigned to the National Frequency Agency).
Background to ARCEP 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 CSA is expected soon, conclusions of ministers in late November.