Who: French media players, French broadcasting authority, French Parliament
When: 22 August 2021
Law stated as at: 22 November 2021
The French Parliament adopted the Climate and Resilience Law on 22 August 2021 to fight against climate change and excessive consumption of resources (Law no. 2021-1104 dated 22 August 2021).
In force since 25 August 2021, this law contains several provisions aimed at regulating advertising, which has resulted in amending Articles 14 and 18 of the French Broadcasting Act of 30 September 1986.
The aim is to accelerate the “greening” of corporate and consumer behaviour by providing a set of rules prohibiting or more strictly regulating certain advertising or promotional practices considered to have a negative impact on climate change.
- The French Advertising Self-Regulatory Body (ARPP) shall submit each year to the French Parliament a report setting out the self-regulation mechanisms it puts in place and their results. This commitment and others had already been taken publicly by the ARPP in March 2021 to further strengthen the efficiency of the regulation of the advertising sector in the context of non-binding declarations. The inclusion of the commitment in the law formally recognises the crucial role of the ARPP and the professional advertising regulation system in the climate transition.
- The French Broadcasting Authority, known as CSA but soon to become the ARCOM, shall promote and publish sectoral and cross-sectoral codes of conduct on advertising (the so-called climate contracts) between media and advertising players aimed at significantly reducing, in particular, ads on TV, radio and online platform services relating to goods and services with a negative impact on the environment, including ads that favourably present the environmental impact of such goods and services – the law refers in particular to impacts “in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, damage to biodiversity and consumption of natural resources over their entire life cycle”. In parallel, the Climate and Resilience Law has already banned advertising for fossil fuels and highly polluting cars.
- These codes of conduct will include clear goals and indicators that allow for annual monitoring by the ARCOM of their implementation.
- In reports presented to the French Parliament on an annual basis, the ARCOM, together with ADEME (the French Environment and Energy Management Agency), will provide a review of the effectiveness of the Codes of Conduct by identifying the good and bad practices in the media industry. In addition, the list of entities that do and do not subscribe to the Codes of Conduct will be published on a public online platform for greater transparency.
As part of the Bousquet-Leroy report published on 7 June 2021 at the request of the French government, there has been a proposal for an example of a possible climate contract for the media industry (see p. 28 to 30 of the Advertising Climate Contract report) with the participation of advertisers, medias (including TV channels), the ARCOM and other organisations,. It provides for the following measures:
- TV and radio publishers are committing to reduce progressively the gains and rewards of most greenhouse gas-emitting products and are working to promote more environmentally responsible gains.
- Syndicat des Régies Internet (SRI) is ready to grant campaigns of general interest in favour of the ecological transition, a specific price negotiation throughout the year instead of their usual general terms and conditions of sale.
- TV services providersmight address or highlight environmental and ecological transition issues, directly or indirectly, in programmes, magazines, news, entertainment, games, documentaries, educational programmes aimed at young audience, but also in fiction. This may result for instance “in subplots and/or in the construction of characters; and/or by portraying more responsible consumption practices and more environmentally friendly habits”).
The ARCOM is currently negotiating with the players in the media industry to build these Codes of Conduct. The focus is therefore on negotiation and compliance with voluntary commitments, this to take into account the importance of media financing through advertising.
Why this matters?
Reducing the carbon footprint of campaigns is one of the main lines of action chosen by the advertising sector to make its ecological transition. This is in line with the European trajectory of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030.
In this vein, SRI has also published a reference framework for calculating the carbon footprint of digital campaigns, in order to limit the ecological and energy impact of campaigns. In addition, the first report from the ARCOM on this topic is expected at the end of the year 2021, it being specified that the ARCOM will publish a more detailed report by the end of 2022, with commitments for improvements up to 2030. Media industry players are therefore encouraged to take the necessary steps quickly.