A few observations about French media

As usual I spent Christmas in France. While drinking the finest wines of humanity I also had plenty of time to think about their media. Here are four random observations and thoughts:

1 – The French have banned advertising – this is bad for the BBC
The French government has banned advertising on their state run TV channels. There is more information on this here

Strangely, advertisements are only banned between 8pm-6am, which I guess are the hours when Sarko is watching TV with Carla Bruni.

Although this brings the French model closer to the BBC’s, ultimately this move is bad for the Beeb, as it is another example of western governments cutting back the size and scale of state run TV.

2 – French TV has a lot of talk time
There is an incredible appetite for talk shows in France. Be it a panel show discussing current affairs, daft comedy or quiz shows, the French like talking. A lot.

Many talk shows can last for two or three hours and as a result of the huge amount of talk time, celebrity brand endorsement is a cost effective way of marketing a product or service. Public Relations people take note.

3 – French satire is better
This is a HUGE generalisation, based on the fact that Le Canard Enchaîné is better than Private Eye http://www.lecanardenchaine.fr/ . If you are in France, make sure you buy a copy. It is published more regularly and more widely read too.

In addition, their love of satire doesn’t stop with the print media. Long since the Brits dumped Spitting Image, the ever popular Les Guignols still draws in the viewers with its puppets doing their best to ruin the reputations of France’s politicians.

French comedy might be much maligned, but perhaps they have the edge on satire? After all satire is based on a French word, non?

4 – The French are off the pace with social media
I’m going to get beaten for saying this, but the French are well behind the times when it comes to Social Media. This is is in part due to the French reluctance to use English ahead of their own language. The French are very nationalistic when it comes to the products they use, and while the Germans are happy to chat, blog and converse in English, the French see it as their mission to further the French language. This ultimately holds back progress.

Yes there are French versions of Facebook and Twitter etc but that is not the point. The point is that when a new Social Media is launched, usually it is developed in the US. It is not until a year or so down the line that a French language version is launched.

Ultimately this gives PR practitioners an advantage over our counterparts in Paris.

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2 Responses

  1. This is an interesting insight, thanks James. How is the French media coping financially at the moment?

    • admin says:

      The regional media is popular in France, although I am not sure about their advertising revenues. There are two free sheets for commuters in Nice, and I’d expect one to go bump soon. I was trying to find this out while I was there but there aren’t many media moguls in Vic en Bigorre.

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