The Following Is Not a Test.

You know how it goes. You’re watching your favorite program and bam it happens: a commercial that seems harmless comes on. Then you find yourself singing the product jingle in the shower, on the bus, or at work. It’s there to stay!  In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy has taken extensive measures to prevent this problem for French viewers:

As of Jan. 5, after 8:00 p.m. there are now no commercials on public television in France and commercials will be phased out entirely by the year 2011.


According to, Sarkozy introduced the ban idea to public stations, Television France 2 and France 3, in 2008 in an attempt to improve the quality of public television and compete with the BBC model. According to, the loss in advertisements would be made up in a balancing scale, rearranging taxes for others:

The government has pledged to make up the resulting budget shortfall — which it estimates at €450 million in 2009 — with a new tax on Internet-service providers and mobile-phone operators, plus a levy on the ad revenues of private TV channels

However, some critics think Sarkozy is less concerned about upping quality of France’s public television and more about upping the money in the pocket of his friend Martin Bouygues owner of private channel, Television France 1:

…the only sector to benefit from the advertising ban would be private stations like France’s most watched TV channel TF1, which would face less competition for advertising revenue.

Not only will Sarkozy be controlling the advertisements on France television, he will also be controlling the content. After approval from The National Assembly, the head of France Television will no longer be selected by an independent party, but will instead be the choice of Sarkozy.

Responses from the media included strikes,  the possibility of television as political propaganda, and a book analyzing the mass effects of Sarkozy’s move with French television.

Sarkozy had this to say of his reasoning in a February of last year:

If we keep commercials we are subjecting ourselves to the tyranny of audience ratings. And this always means the worst programming dumbed down to lowest levels.


Almost two years later as Sarkozy’s plan starts to come into action in French programming, with no effective rebuttals, one has to look at the validity of his efforts. How far is too far? Should his son make it into office, would he agree with the policies? Does Sarkozy’s plan take away the people’s voice?

Would this work in America?