The surprise ruling has been made by the broadcasting regular in France, the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA).
In a letter to French broadcasters this week, the regulator said that mentions of Facebook and Twitter were a form of “clandestine advertising” and should be stopped. TV and radio stations were reminded that this type of advertising falls foul of a 1992 law designed to prevent it.
A spokeswoman for the CSA, Christine Kelly, told radio station Europe 1 that “instead of saying find us on Facebook, presenters should say find us on social networks”. She went on to question why there should be continuous promotion of one network worth billions of dollars while others struggle to get known. “If we give the right to mention Facebook and Twitter, we’re opening a Pandora’s box. Other networks will say “if they get mentioned, why not us?””.
Kelly added “there are lots of rules like this to follow in France and that’s a big difference between France and the United States”. French commentators and bloggers have largely ridiculed the ruling. Journalist Pierre Haski wrote on website Rue 89 that the decision “has made France a laughing stock around the world”. He said the decision “showed the extent to which the administrative and political elite in France are divorced from the reality of how the world is changing”.
But every cloud has a silver lining. While Twitter and Facebook may be banned on TV and radio, another French institution welcomed them in this week. Le Petit Robert, the popular dictionary, announced that its new list of words for the 2012 edition will include ‘tweet’ and ‘Facebook’.