Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Barroso is wrong to claim that France's 'exception culturelle' is "reactionary"

This man has appalling taste in ties
Francois Hollande, his socialist government and a sizeable chunk of press and public opinion are currently up in arms about inflammatory remarks made yesterday by European Commission president José Manuel Barroso. His comments expressed his displeasure at France's refusal to ratify a trans-Atlantic trade agreement between Europe and the United States unless its film, television and music industries were excluded from it. Barroso said;
"[The French stance is] part of this anti-globalization agenda that I consider completely reactionary. [...] Some say they belong to the left, but in fact they are culturally extremely reactionary."
He went on to argue that he believed in protecting cultural diversity but not in "sealing off Europe".

French government negotiating officials had insisted upon this exemption in the name of France's 'exception culturelle' - a protective measure for French cultural production that was introduced partially in an effort to stem what was and still is seen by French governments as being an unacceptably high percentage of foreign (read 'Anglophone') films, music and television series being shown and broadcast in France. Installing limit quotas on them in order to protect home-grown and European product was the method chosen, and this principle is backed up by legislation. The major clauses of the law stipulate that;

a) TV stations must pay a 3.2% tax upon their annual turnover of which three-quarters helps to finance French films.
b) TV stations must reserve 60% of their airtime to films for European films, 40% of which must be French.
c) Music radio stations must reserve 40% of their airtime for French-language songs.

Now what's so 'reactionary' about that? Anglophones don't tend to consider these issues much because almost all their media broadcast uniquely Anglophone cultural products, but in smaller, non-Anglophone countries, there is obviously good reason to support home-grown product in order to protect their cultural identity. And it's not as if foreign culture isn't allowed onto the market in France, which, if you turn the figures round, reserves 40% of TV time and 60% of radio time to other than European - and that, again, essentially means Anglophone - films and music. That may not be as much as the Hollywood moguls would like, but France nevertheless represents a substantial market for them. Anglophone documentaries and other non-film products also get their fair share of the remaining airtime, thus further increasing the total amount of Anglophone product. Then add non-European and Anglophone product - even if there isn't much of it - and you have a situation in which about half of all product is non-French. Isn't that enough?

And there's another factor which should be taken into account when analysing just how much France protects it's own culture to the detriment of that of others, and that is the difference between what the law theoretically says should be done and what is actually being done in the real world. The fact is that TV stations, radio stations and cinemas regularly feature a substantially higher percentage of Anglophone product than they should, but the authorities turn a blind eye to it. In other words, it's a safe bet to say that over half of all product diffused by French TV, cinema and radio isn't French.

No, that is not reactionary and Barroso is wrong.

1 comment:

  1. Manoel de oliviera ,immense cinéaste ,qui nous viens du Portugal venait dans notre pays de réactionnaire pour trouver des financement pour ses suis heureux d,être un réactionnaire.