France has banned the use of Twitter and Facebook on television and radio, begging the question, “What’s up with France?” Protectionist? Absurd? Is the French government protectionist against American culture or is there more to the story?
This ban isn’t new. It finds its roots back to French advertising laws in banning the clandestine direction of companies as an act of advertising. France has strict advertising laws, but when one takes the time to look them over, they’re actually not that bad and tend to protect consumers from false, misleading, and potentially harmful advertising. They even help cut down on advertising to keep cities clean and commercial brainwashing to a minimum.
For example, in the United States, a viewer can expect to see commercials every 5-7 minutes. In France, commericals come on every 30 minutes and are specifically introduced as advertisements. Commercials and advertisements can’t offend people because of race, sex, nationality, disability, age or sexual orientation in any scene of violence.
Commercials for junk food, drinks, and restaurants must have a health warning and encourage viewers to eat a balanced diet with at least five fruits and vegetables a day. Some companies have complained that the advertising sends mixed messages, because on one hand, they’re encouraging people to eat non-nutritious food while encouraging them not to eat their products. These types of disclaimers can be found in print, radio, and television.
French local governments have even been fighting visual pollution to keep cities and towns low of outdoor and billboard advertising. It makes some advertisers angry because the advertising industry rakes in over a billion euros each year, however the French people and their elected officials don’t want a wasteland of advertising in their neighborhoods.
Last year, in the city of Reims, restaurants and businesses were banned from posting any mobile advertising signs that would direct customers to their stores because they create too much of a cluttered visual mess in the downtown promenade. Fines of around 1,500 euros were given out to businesses that left their signs out.
The ban simply prohibits the clandestine advertisement of companies and the French government considers the mention of Twitter and Facebook both subliminal and unpaid. It’s not difficult for a company to say, meet us at popular social networking sites. Anyone who is connected to Twitter and Facebook will automatically understand the instruction. News reports can cite Twitter and Facebook if they are a part of the story, they just can’t say, “Meet us on facebook for more information about us.” That goes for any wildly successful social networking medium.
Some would say that France is protectionist and doesn’t want any American influence by mentioning American brands on the radio or during television broadcasts. It’s an absurd argument. Go into a French grocery store and find on just about every aisle an American brand or inspired product. There is a McDonalds, Subway, or KFC in just about every major city. Go into Maisons Du Monde, a popular home decorating store, and find an entire section on American themed decorations, specifically around New York City.
Just as Americans want other Americans and immigrants to assimilate to the American culture, the French are working to preserve their own heritage for future generations,. However, I don’t think banning the use of two American companies is an agressive act against American culture. What do YOU think?