Media for Diversity and Migrant Integration

Representation of the Diversity of French Society on Television

TitleRepresentation of the Diversity of French Society on Television
Publication TypeReport
Original TitleRepresentation de la diversite de la societe francaise a la television
Year of Publication2010
Date Published04/2010
Place PublishedParis
Type of WorkReport
1) Abstract

This 2010 report from the Conseil Superieur de l'Audiovisuel gives a critical assessment of the treatment of the issue of diversity in the audiovisual media in France, and summary of actions taken to date for the promotion of diversity, from actions initiated by them to actions implemented by various stations, as well as a list of recommendations.

2.1) Publication LanguageFrench
2.2) Type & Structure


Actions of editors in 2008: heterogeneous efforts, leading the council to commission a study of the perception of diversity on screen
Initiatives of editors off screen
Creation of foundations by TF1 and France Televisions
Actions for human resource
Other initiatives
Initiatives of editors on screen
Reports from television stations: no assessment in the long term
Study of one week of programming: a snapshot of diversity
Creation in 2009 by the Council of an objective measurement tool for diversity: the barometer for diversity
Tool devised after consultation with stations
Significant analysis timeframe
Introduction of weighting system according to programme duration.
Qualitative criteria
Lengthening of time slots if necessary
First edition of the barometer for diversity
Study boundaries and allocated means
Results of the first edition of the barometer
Initiatives of the Council for raising awareness of media professionals
Watchdog for diversity in audiovisual media
Stature of recruited media professionals
Public bodies representatives
Raising awareness of media professionals in order to conduct concerted campaigns
Journalism schools
Qualifications for image, sound, writing and producing
Representative from audiovisual creative industries
Artistic distribution agencies and casting directors
The council calls for concerted and effective actions from editors in 2010
Council resolution of November 10, 2009 sets the framework for editors’ engagement
Content of engagements
Terms of entering into engagements
The resolution includes terms of assessment in the long term of editors’ engagements
Barometer for diversity
Other engagements from editor
Supplemental information from the editor
Communication of engagements and results
Engagements gathered and accepted by the council for the year 2010
Engagements common to all broadcasters
Supplementary engagements for some broadcasters

3.1) Main Issues

The report starts with an excerpt of a law which has been recently revised, to account for the need for diversity in the media.

Text of the law:

“The Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel (High Council for Audiovisual media) is a contributing party to actions in favour of social cohesion and in the fight against discriminations in the field of audiovidual communication. The council acts as a watchdog for editors of audiovisual communication services, so that the programming reflects the diversity of French society and contributes also to the prestige of overseas French territories. It reports to Parliament every year, on the actions of the editors of television services with regards to programmes which reflect the diversity of French society and proposes measures which will improve the effectiveness of this diversity in all programme genres.
The Council may also offer recommendations to the editors and distributors of audiovisual communication services, with respect to the principles set out in the present law. These recommendations will be published in the Official Journal of the French Republic.” Aricle 3-1 of the law of September 30, 1986 (modified) with respect to freedom of communication (p.6)

As early as 2000, the council commissioned a first quantitative study on perception of diversity in television, and thereafter introduced within each private television station contract, a clause whereby they committed to diversity in programmes. A committee on diversity was subsequently created in 2006, In 2008, the watchdog for diversity was created, and a study commissioned on perception of diversity on free digital stations and on Canal +.
As for diversity of origins, the council used categories of perception as “white”, “black”, “asian”, “arab”. The study never endeavoured to discover the “real origin” of people, but rather the perception of the audience. The results showed that even though the theme of ethnic diversity was widely reported, the representation of diversity had not improved.
2008: assessment of action in editorial offices. Most digital stations gave reports on programmes, however other stations, such as TF1 (private) and France 2 (public) also accounted for off-screen initiatives. Both TF1 and France Televisions created “foundations for diversity” to help associations. TF1 said that they have increased the number of journalists issued from diversity, and France Television have also mentioned scholarships, internships and apprenticeships. BFM indicated a strong link to the Club Averroes, and their support to schools which are attempting to open up to students issued from diversity.
Other initiatives included the creation of a permanent committee for diversity in France Television, which will report to the company on a yearly basis. France Television have also created a website to highlight their work on diversity. France Television have included a new clause in any contract on production, coproduction or purchase of fictions:

“This work will be included in programming which reflects the diversity of French society and of foreigners living on French territory, and as such, the contract holder will make sure that the spirit of this engagement is respected “. (p.11)

M6 (private station) has a partnership with the Institut du citoyen visible (Institute for visible citizens) and has scheduled short films produced in order to shed a positive light on diversity.

As for on screen diversity, reports from the stations have differed vastly, and the council has concluded that there could be no general assessment, nor could there be any objective assessment of progress. It thus concluded that an objective tool was needed. The council has thus selected Eric Masse, sociology professor in the University of Bordeaux, to undertake a study of one week of programming on 15 television stations, with the help of the watchdog body for diversity. The methodology and results are reported here, with the main results being a notable under-representation of some categories; under the ethnicity category, progress has been shown to be very slow in the past 10 years. This becomes even more obvious for programmes directly depicting French society, such as fiction – characters seen as black, 7%, as arab, 1% and asian 1%. This is even lower for principal characters. The same is observed for news programming and for invited guests.

In 2009, the CSA created their measuring tool: the barometer for diversity, based on the above research. This will now be used twice a year, and the results will be considered in tandem with further information provided by the stations. Moreover, a element of weighting will be introduced for the length of the programmes in order to differenciate between short (less than 5 minutes) and long (more than 5 minutes). Qualitative criteria will also be used.
The schedule time for the programmes scrutinized has been agreed with all participants, from 18.00 to 23.00. The first results show a distinct need for improvement; ethnicity marker: only entertainment has a good result, due to the different origins of performers.

The report then describes the watchdog body for diversity.

A meeting with all 12 certified schools of journalism was held by the watchdog body and the CSA, in order to review the processes introduced by the schools to diversify their intake. Several schools have introduced preparatory classes for entrance, which can help students issued from disadvantaged areas prepare for the competitive exam with the help of professionals. Some entrance requirements have been changed in some schools, and others have introduced a selective recruitment process for disadvantaged areas. Some measures have been introduced to offset the very high cost of courses, amongst which grants and scholarships, as well as contracts of internship contracts linked to the schools and media companies for students issed from disadvantaged areas. As for education in other areas of media jobs, the results are less obvious, despite the efforts of two schools. The cost of the studies seems to be a major block.
Meetings with production companies and casting companies, whilst showing some elements of initiatives for diversity, als showed that these are isolated.
The report then lists the new contracts of engagement that the television stations will be expected to sign, with an engagement for diversity in programmes and employment, and regular reports to the Council. It also notes the need for further quantitative and qualitative research, and quotes the European commission as referring favourably to the work of the CSA.

3.2) Media

Audiovisual media, public and private

Keywordscontent, diversity, diversity policies, diversity practices, France, migrants' integration
TagsContent analysis, Regulatory bodies, recommendations,