Posted by: carolbcarolb | November 20, 2011

Maybe France is McChesney’s utopia…

In this week’s readings McChesney warns Britain against implementing media deregulation laws. Doing some reading about the state of Europe’s media system, I came across an article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper about France’s stance against media deregulation. Even though media deregulation continues to gain ground in the US and Britain, France is still resistant to it.

In France, unlike Britain, the state not only directly funds/supervises public broadcasters but also regulates the output of private television by implementing legally binding quotas. One example is Canal Plus: with its commercial success it is required to invest in independent cinema production, which gave independent filmmakers like the Coen brothers and many others a chance to make films.

Other aspects of the French media system:
● Broadcasters must give the same amount of airtime to different candidates during election campaigns.
● Advertising limited to 9 minutes/hour on public channels, and 12 minutes on private.
● No one media group can control more than 30% of the daily press.
● During judicial criminal investigations, publication of images related to a crime, or identity of a victim of a sexual offense is prohibited.
● Photographing, filming or recording court proceedings is prohibited.

Media laws in France derive from a national consensus (a national consensus on media reform and policy making is what McChesney keeps saying we desperately need here).

1. The Guardian article says that the rules requiring private broadcasters to reinvest some of their profits into art/cultural cinema production is “an example of regulation at its best.” Do you agree?

(This type of funding is proposed by McChesney in our readings, as part of his media reform solutions, i.e. taxing private broadcasters to pay for public and cultural programming.)

2. In France there is no filming of court proceedings. Do we gain anything as a society from watching courtroom spectacles such as the Rodney King, O.J. Simpson, or Michael Jackson trials? Or is it purely sensationalism and voyeurism?

(As someone who lived through the LA riots, I have a strong opinion.)

3. Could media regulations like those listed above, have a positive effect in the US on stopping what McChesney says is the “massive negative externality of sensationalism in what we see” and halt its “dismal effects on society”?

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