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French TV viewers resent needless use of English

Ben McPartland · 15 Apr 2014, 12:31

Published: 15 Apr 2014 12:31 GMT+02:00

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Despite efforts to protect the French language and culture in the TV and radio industry, the language of Moliere continues to suffer at the hands of English, according to a new report by industry regulators CSA.

And French viewers themselves are not too happy about it.

CSA’s report revealed that of all the complaints the organisation receives it is the invasion of English which most grates them.

“The council regularly conducts language survey’s complemented by the letters and emails from viewers and listeners about inaccuracies noted on TV and radio.

“We see that what offends the public the most is the borrowing of English words and terms, to the detriment of their French equivalents, the inaccuracies and the use of rude words or vulgar expressions.”

This was backed up by Nicolas Jacobs from France 2 TV channel, who has said previously that he receives more and more mail from viewers fed up with the growing presence of English on their screens saying it is like being accused of being a "traitor or a sell-out".

"This is a new phenomenon," Jacobs said.

Several rules are in place for the industry to protect French language and culture, notably the rule that 40 percent of programmes or songs played on certain radio shows must be French. The CSA report revealed that in 2013 this rule was frequently broken, with the regulator having to send out 21 warnings. 

Other steps are also taken to protect the language.

France Televisions has an agreement with French TV and radio regulator CSA, for example, that bars the use of foreign terms when a French one exists.

The channel TF1's official "convention"  states it must "strive to use French titles for its programmes" and that "an advisor on the French language must be employed by the channel".

But with the TV and radio sector changing rapidly, the old rules no longer seem adequate and the CSA has struggled to keep up.

Last December leaders of France’s TV and radio industry, as well as politicians, met to try to come up with a new strategy to boost French resistance against the relentless invasion of English.

In this week's CSA report under the section headlined “Respect for the French language” it is reminded that the council “must ensure the defence and the illustration of the French language” in the audio visual sector.

Story continues below…

However one of the problems arisen in recent years that has put the CSA in somewhat of a pickle is that many French artists chose to sing in English, in the hope of becoming a success abroad.

Added to this is the fact that many French people now listen to music on internet channels like YouTube and Daily Motion, which are not subject to French laws.

The CSA proposes that the famous rule, forcing radio stations to play 40 percent of the songs in French during certain music shows, should be adjusted to take account of these changes and so authorities can impose a requirement to play a minimum of French songs on these new radio shows.

Should the French protect their languiage and culture? If so, how?

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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