Regulatory authorities

Like many markets or professional fields, media markets operate under many regulatory authorities and laws with the aim of limiting liberal economy and free competition. These laws aim at not only regulating business and economy but also professional ethics or practices. Market structure of press, radio, and TV is historically characterised by the pivotal role of the central state and its linked organisations. As an illustration the Direction Générale des Médias et des Industries Culturelles (General Directorate of Media and Cultural Industry - DGMIC), an arm of the Ministry of Culture and Communication, is partly dedicated to monitor the allowance of numerous and substantial public subsidies to newspapers and magazines; as well the launch of a radio or TV broadcast is subject to prior approval from the CSA (see above) that manages and regulates the radio and TV spectrum.  

The print press market is strongly regulated by various bodies and laws. As an illustration printing and circulation are managed by joint bodies, in contradiction with free competition. Journalism profession works under no professional Order; however the Commission Paritaire Nationale de l’Emploi des journalistes (National Committee for Parity in Employment - CPNEJ) powerfully regulates the market of journalism education (see below), while the Commission de la Carte d’Identité des Journalistes Professionnels (Commission on the Card of Professional Journalists  - CCIJP) is a joint body that delivers the professional card (see below).

Regarding TV and radio markets, the law of 17 January 1989 created an independent public authority, the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (Superior Audiovisual Council - CSA) with the charge of guaranteeing broadcasting communication freedom in France. The CSA is the only institution in charge of regulating TV and radio content for the public’s sake. It consists of a nine-member appointed board: two members are selected by the president of the Republic; three others by the speaker of the Senate; and an additional three by the speaker of the National Assembly. The scope of its responsibilities under the law of 30 September, 1986, amended numerous times, is wide-ranging: ensuring plurality in opinions expressed, organising radio and television electoral campaigns, rigorous news treatment, allocating frequencies to operators, ensuring human dignity is upheld, protecting consumers. The CSA has significant responsibilities in managing the radio-electric frequency spectrum. It is charged with planning hertzian spectrum bands to be used by radio stations, issuing licences to use the frequencies, and planning and allocating broadcasting channels to digital terrestrial television operators. Under the law of 5 March, 2009, the CSA is also in charge of regulating on-demand audiovisual media services, video on-demand and catch-up TV. Starting in 2002, the CSA has organised the digital terrestrial television (DTT) switch-over. As much as 97 percent of France’s inhabitants can now receive a large selection of quality channels: 19 national free-to-air channels, ten pay-per-view channels, and approximately 50 local channels.  

According to a report issued in mid 2017 by the Autorité de Régulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communication - ARCEP), democratic institutions concluded that independent state intervention was needed to ensure that no power, be it economic or political, is in a position to control or curb users’ (consumers, businesses, associations, etc.) ability to communicate. The ARCEP, a neutral and expert arbitrator with the status of quasi autonomous non-governmental organisation, is the architect and guardian of communications networks in France. As a network architect, it creates the conditions for a plural and decentralised network organisation. It guarantees the market is open to new players and to all forms of innovation, and works to ensure the sector’s competitiveness through pro-investment competition. As network guardian, it also enforces the principles that are essential to guaranteeing users’ ability to communicate. It ensures users’ freedom of choice and access to clear and accurate information, and protects against possible net neutrality violations.