(This statement drafted by " Les Pieds dans le PAF", a militant French association of TV viewers, is not a professional code of ethics, but it does list the duties of television as a mass medium, as seen by some at least in the public).
Television has today become the principal means of communication, an instrument indispensable to the information, culture, entertainment of men and women. Television exists only by and for its diversified audience. Viewers, citizens male and female, have rights that need to be acknowledged. The viewers' freedom of choice, equality of rights before audiovisual communication, the right to express oneself and to participate are principles upon which those rights are founded.
Considering that the acknowledgement of those principles and rights forms the foundation of a free, diverse, quality television, the undersigned publish the following declaration:
ARTICLE 1 :
Television viewers are free and all have the same rights, whatever their origin, social status, opinion, gender or age.
ARTICLE 2 :
Every viewer has a right to express his/her free opinion regarding all television channels, be they publicly or privately owned, be they local, regional, national or trans-national.
ARTICLE 3 :
Every viewer has the right to access diversified prime time programs, that supply his/her needs for information, culture and entertainment, with no other obligation but to pay the annual fee . For the exercise of that right, nobody can be obliged to pay extra.
ARTICLE 4 :
Every viewer has the right to refuse any attack on his/her person, privacy or image by way of debilitating, soul-destroying, mercenary, violent or sexist programmes. Programmes of a racist character are by law prohibited. A code of ethics will be drafted jointly by viewers and television professionals. A viewer's right of reply shall be established to counter media aggressions.
ARTICLE 5 :
Every viewer has a right to the respect of his/her cultural identity. French minorities or foreign minorities living in France are entitled to regular programmes that deal with the original cultures and their present lives. Children have a special right to a choice of appropriate programmes showing the diversity of all world cultures so as to stimulate their imagination.
ARTICLE 6 :
Every viewer is entitled to transparency as regards programme planning on the various channels. He/she especially has the right to be informed of why a programme has been interrupted or taken off the schedule. Abrupt deprogramming, for no urgent reason, of news and public affairs shows is not permitted.
ARTICLE 7 :
Every viewer must be offered original productions. Big screen and small screen movies considered as creative works must not be interrupted by commercials. Such films must be aired uncut and never be touched up or coloured, save with the agree¬ment of the author.
ARTICLE 8 :
Every viewer must be clearly warned of the beginning and end of every commercial interruption. Any change in the sound volume during commercial interruptions is strictly prohibited. Deceptive advertising is prohibited, as provided by the law. Sponsored programmes must be marked as such.
ARTICLE 9 :
Television news must not be the occasion of any discrimination. It must be accessible to all free of charge. No information programme can be subject to exclusivity, especially in the field of sports reporting. Television news will follow the ethical rules listed in the Charter of Journalists.
ARTICLE 1O :
Canned laughter and applause can be considered as media aggression and should not exist. Every use of play-back must be indicated and justified by the broadcaster. Fixed games are prohibited. The use of subliminal methods is prohibited.
ARTICLE 11 :
Every viewer has a right to know about audience surveys, especially their methodology, their techniques, their samples. Results from opinion polls should be quoted in the conditional and set in their context. A viewers satisfaction index will be created .
ARTICLE 12 :
Every viewer is entitled to training in critical television literacy from his/her first years at school up to university. Audiovisual education, the syntax of sound and picture must be considered as a full-fledged scholastic discipline.
ARTICLE 13 :
Every viewer has the right to be informed of how the user fee collected by the State is used and distributed. The fee must first and foremost be assigned to the development and improvement of French television creativity and programmes.
ARTICLE 14 :
Every viewer, whatever his geographical location, is entitled to receiving national over-the-air channels, existing or yet to be created.
ARTICLE 15 :
Every viewer who lives in a cabled area is entitled to a free connection enabling him/her to access a minimum service, including the public channels, one local channel, an educational channel and one open access channel, a studio being made available to citizens and their associations.
ARTICLE 16 :
Every viewer is entitled to expressing him/herself on the air. This will be provided by regular prime time programmes.
ARTICLE 17 :
Television networks and stations must accept viewers as full partners. Some representation will be guaranteed to viewers and their associations, in a way to be defined in cooperation with the regulatory agency and the public and private channels. The will of viewers should be expressed via universal suffrage.