Radio and television anchors in France are no longer allowed to use the names of the social networking sites promotionally in their broadcasts.
The script has become cliché – the phrase that begins “Social networking sites like…” is almost always followed by the words “Facebook and Twitter.” But as of May 27th, the French are turning up their noses at the mention of those names on TV.
C’est impossible, you say? But the French cite a 1992 law on the books that bans the promotion of business enterprises on network television programs. And a mere mention of “follow us on Twitter” or “check out our Facebook page,” in the eyes of the French government, represents subliminal advertising and promotion of those platforms. Reporters are still allowed to mention the sites by name if the news story itself concerns one of the businesses, but referring to Facebook or Twitter in a promotional capacity is a definite non.
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In fact, it’s precisely because Facebook and Twitter are such juggernauts in the social networking arena that France’s broadcast regulatory group wants to silence their mention over the airwaves. Noting that Twitter was often cited as a source of news after DSK’s arrest, the organization began reminding networks that mentioning social media websites by name was a violation of the broadcast code. The group’s spokeswoman Christine Kelly says, “Why give preference to Facebook, which is worth billions of dollars, when there are many other social networks that are struggling for recognition.”
Instead of asking viewers to continue the conversation on Facebook or Twitter, we predict programs will come up with some quite clever ways to circumvent the restriction, meaning the advertisements will likely become more blatant, only sans name. There would be virtually no confusion if a reporter said, “Visit us on the website where you can post real-time updates in 140 characters.”
There’s no word on how the law will be enforced or what the penalties will be. But without future mention of the two biggest players in social networking, could Myspace and Friendster be headed for a French revival?
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