France Télévisions Mediation

Categories: Contract Law
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France Télévisions is the French public national television broadcaster. It consists of several channels : France 1ère, France 2, France 3, France 4, France 5, and France Ô. Television broadcasting involves making choices on a daily basis and disputes may arise. Several mediators are available to provide an amicable solution, free to the complainant. The Mediator of the France Télévisions Programmes (Le médiateur des programmes; see 2014 report) has thus competence for any programme on any of the channels of France Télévisions. Referral to the Mediator may be by post or online (ENVOYER UN MESSAGE). France 2 has its own Editorial Mediator (Le médiateur de l'info de France 2; SEE 2015 report). He may be contacted by post, facebook (www.facebook.com/mediateurinfofrance2?fref=ts) or on his website (www.francetvinfo.fr/nous-contacter/mediateur-info). France 3 also has its own Editorial Mediator (La médiatrice des rédactions de France 3; see 2013/2014 Report). She may be contacted by post, online (www.francetvinfo.fr/nous-contacter/votre-tele-et-vous/) or by e-mail (mediateurinfo.france3@france3.fr). She also has a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Votre.Tele.et.vous), a monthly TV show entitled ‘Votre télé et vous’ (Your TV and you); and a blog for the most important reactions (such as the fact that the Charlie-Hebdo murders were far from being given a prominent treatment on the very day of the terrorist attack, a decision which shocked spectators: Fusillade à Charlie Hebdo, "un silence incompréhensible, hallucinant, honteux" dans le 12/13 du 7 janvier 2015). An important difference is that the Editorial Mediators intervene at first instance, whilst the Mediator of the France Télévisions Programmes intervenes on ‘appeal’. All mediators are bound by the Mediation Charter.

The Mediation Charter is included in the Antenna Charter (section 1.4, p. 26). It may also be found in the Annual Reports (see the 2014 Report of the TV Programmes Mediator p. 12, the 2015 Report of the France 2 Editorial Mediator p. 74, or the 2013/14 Report of the France 3 Editorial Mediator p. 61). Key points are recalled on the relevant websites. Section 1.4 of the Antenna Charter is entitled ‘Listening to viewers’. The role of the Mediators is to be the intermediaries between the public and the TV channels, to consider the comments and complaints of viewers. The mediators were set up to offer viewers the opportunity to refer to an impartial body. They help to establish a quality relationship between channels and viewers. The Mediators are independent. They are appointed for three years. They are outside any hierarchy, and exercise no editorial control. They never intervene in the selection, planning or development of programs. Further information is provided by the France 2 Editorial Mediator blog (Charte & statut). Following a call for application, the mediators are appointed by the President of France Télévisions, according to either the selection procedure of each channel for the Editorial Mediators or the proposal of the Board of Directors of France Télévisions for the Programs Mediator. They are administratively attached to the Secretary General of France Télévisions for the duration of their mandate. They may not be removed during their term. Their successors are appointed three months before the end of their mandates. Editorial Mediators have a minimum income equivalent to the average wage of an editor-in-chief at the national level. At the end of their term, the mediators are reintegrated into the France Télévisions group in a position at least equivalent to that previously held.

Viewers may refer their issues directly to them. Mediators never intervene a priori but a posteriori, when they are asked to do so, in writing, after the broadcasting. They do not respond to anonymous letters or e-mails. Services in contact with the viewers (whether by mail, phone or internet) keep them updated with all the comments, criticisms, suggestions or protests of viewers regarding the processing of information by TV News and news magazines of France 2 and France 3 for the Editorial Mediators; the programs of any France Télévisions channels for the France Télévisions Programmes Mediator. The Mediators examine all requests, hear all parties, and decide to follow up, or not, claims. They communicate their views to the interested parties and decide, if necessary, to make them public. When they consider it useful, they explain to viewers the choice of editors, the difficulties that they face and potential solutions. The 2014 Report of the Mediator of the France Télévisions Programmes offers a good sample of his work. The Report consists mostly of a (huge) selection of (anonymised) letters received (7000 in 2014) and general answers from the Mediator, illustrating the diversity of issues raised and the difficult balance between conflicting opinions. It draws on the daily work of the Mediator, who synthetises the messages received in relation to a particular programme and publishes his general answer on the Mediator’s website on a very regular basis. For an example, see ROLAND GARROS - LES TÉLÉSPECTATEURS NOUS RENVOIENT LA BALLE, where the Mediator explains the policy inspiring the choice of programmes and offers practical solutions to both sides in the form of specific websites, where the ones who complained about not seeing enough tennis may see all the matches and where the ones who complained about having their favourite TV series shortened because a specific match lasted a bit longer than scheduled may access it in full. 

Mediators may also be seized by the President of France Télévisions, the channels directors or the editors-in-chiefs. They must, in parallel to their own intervention, notify the legal department of any case which may result in proceedings.

Finally, they may reflect on a number of recurring themes in collaboration with programs managers, editors-in-chiefs and external stakeholders as they deem appropriate. It may lead to the drafting of rules of conduct on a particular theme, which must be approved by the channels directors.

(Altalex, 13 June 2016. Article by Emmanuel Guinchard)

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