Media and Protection of Minors in France - TV and Cinema
Author: Mathias Grenier, European Audiovisual Observatory
All along the 20th century, the cultural landscape in France has known many evolutions and continues changing with the development of new media such as Connected TV. In cinemas, this evolution is especially marked by the types of films shown and the violence an increasing number of works contain. New technologies and techniques available for the creation of filmed art enabled creators to express fully their artistic desires and this leads sometimes (and more often than before) to more realistic depiction of violent scenes in films. The dominance of US action films in France especially has brought a new meaning to "violent films" with a banalisation of killings and other physical abuses. Pornography and erotic films also took an important place in the media landscape through time, first in cinemas and then on television.
Television partly mirrors cinema because it repeats movies that were first shown in cinemas. Additionally, it also produces its own content, with TV films and different types of shows. But television is special in that, since the 1950s, it became one of the most powerful media in terms of influencing audiences, and especially children. This influence was made clear when Patrick LeLay, former CEO of TF1 – the first television channel in France – said "the first job of TF1 is to help Coca-Cola to sell its products. For an advertisement to be perceived, the viewer's brain has to be available. Our shows are cut to make it available […] What we sell to Coca-Cola, is time of available brain". Even if this quotation is very controversial, it is a good example of what kind of power television can have on our minds and even more on the evolving
minds of children.
The integration of an increasing amount of violence and pornography in these two media led to concerns about the protection of minors against content that could harm their development. The reason why television and cinema are regulated with a view to protect minors is clear: both TV and cinema are powerful cultural tools and their influence on youths' development should be controlled.