“The decision of the Council of State is intended to strengthen freedom of expression”

“Risks for freedom of expression”fear of the establishment of a “thought police”threats of censorship on editorial lines, etc. » enjoin » the Regulatory Authority for Audiovisual and Digital Communication (Arcom) to re-examine CNews’ compliance with the rules of pluralism that it undertook to respect in exchange for a broadcasting authorization has, since February 13, raised reactions passionate to the point of excess. Lawyer for the NGO Reporters Without Borders at the origin of the appeal filed with the Council of State, Patrice Spinosi recalls that, far from restriction, respect for pluralism guarantees freedom of communication.

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Did you understand the extent of the negative reactions caused by the decision of the Council of State?

What surprised me the most was that this decision was presented by the media in the Canal+ galaxy as a decision infringing on freedom of expression. The 1986 law was introduced to guarantee freedom of communication, which includes the necessary respect for pluralism. This is what the European Convention on Human Rights requires. The decision of the Council of State aims, quite contrary to this truncated presentation, to strengthen freedom of expression.

How was Arcom at fault?

The tools she had put in place were too formal, essentially based on counting the speaking time of politicians. This method was effective at a time when political speech was mainly within the reach of politicians. It was a time when there were fewer television channels, and especially no news channels that risked being used as an opinion channel.

CNews refutes making an opinion. It claims to offer decryption.

A fair title. In its decision, the Council of State recognizes that Cnews is not ignoring the commitments it made to Arcom in exchange for its broadcasting authorization. What the Council of State says, however, is that to assess pluralism, the Regulatory Authority must take into consideration all of the speeches during the debates that CNews broadcasts, and include those of columnists and of the speakers. The debate focused on this channel, because it illustrates the phenomenon, but the decision of the Council of State applies to the entire media sphere. It applies immediately but especially in the long term. To guarantee pluralism, the judges wanted to prohibit any lasting and obvious imbalance which would indicate a deliberate intention of a publisher to favor a current of thought or opinion.

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