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France: "Non" mentioning Twitter, Facebook on air


French regulators have forbidden broadcasters to direct their audiences to Twitter or Facebook.

It's not a complete blackout, if, for example, either of the two companies figure in a news story. But broadcasters are not allowed to point their audiences specifically to Facebook or Twitter to interact or to get more information about a story.

As bizarre as this decree might sound to some on this side of the pond, the regulation is derived from a 1992 statute governing the responsibilities of editors when it comes to advertising, sponsorship and what was described at the time as "teleshopping."

Christine Kelly, an advisor to France's Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel, sought to play down the potential for controversy in an interview with the AFP news service where she said there had been a "misunderstanding."

"We encourage the use of social networks," she said. "There is no question of blocking."

However, she underlined a distinction in how the social networks ought to get mentioned on air. Kelly said a broadcaster must say 'find us on social networks' instead of 'find us on Facebook' But this is not the CSA said that it is advertising illegal and we are charged to respect the law."

"Why should we promote a network that is worth billions of dollars like Facebook and not for another one that is having a hard time getting known," Kelly said, adding that it would be "a distortion of competition" to give one social network preference over another.