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France bans Facebook and Twitter from TV, radio

June 3, 2011 at 2:58 PM ET

From now on, French broadcasters will have to think twice before referring to Facebook or Twitter in their programs, as regulators have banned the mention of these two big brands from television and radio newscasts.

Sacre bleu! France’s Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel, an independent audiovisual regulatory authority, declared the terms persona non gratae due to a perception of "clandestine advertising," which CSA spokesperson Christine Kelly goes into more detail about in this Business Insider column by Matthew Fraser.

"Why give preference to Facebook, which is worth billions of dollars, when there are many other social networks that are struggling for recognition," she said. "This would be a distortion of competition. If we allow Facebook and Twitter to be cited on air, it’s opening a Pandora’s Box — other social networks will complain to us saying, 'why not us?’"

While that's an interesting point, it does put a crimp in news stations that want to promote their Twitter and Facebook pages with viewers, a staple of most media nowadays regardless of borders. 

Fraser notes that these omissions didn't seem to cause the kind of waves in France, where folks are used to living and working around daily bureaucracy, as it would in say, the U.S. or UK. He hypothesizes there may be some anti-American sentiment in that acceptance, too.

Facebook and Twitter are, of course, American social networks. In France, they are regarded — at least implicitly — as symbols of Anglo-Saxon global dominance — along with Apple, MTV, McDonald’s, Hollywood, Disneyland, and other cultural juggernauts. That there is a deeply-rooted animosity in the French psyche towards Anglo-Saxon cultural domination cannot be disputed; indeed, it has been documented and analysed for decades. Sometimes this cultural resentment finds expression in French regulations and laws, frequently described, and often denounced, by foreigners as protectionism.

We'd like to see our newscasters try it, for just a day. Don't say Twitter or Facebook. Could they do it, or are those brands that deeply integrated in our lives already, as at least one study surmises?

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