Hungarian Government statement
In France, according to the Act on ‘freedom of communication of 1986,’ the CSA, the media authority may, in certain cases, renew a frequency without announcing a tender, up to two times. In such cases, when the media authority does not renew the frequency, it must provide a lawful justification thereof, and despite objections from the licensee, the media authority may announce a new tender for the frequency permit following (unsuccessful) negotiations of six months at most with the licensee.33
Expert assessments: tendering and licensing, and issuing decrees Example
The citation above is essentially accurate: the High Council for Broadcasting (Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel – CSA) may renew a frequency without a tender up to two times, except under certain conditions as specified in the Freedom of Communication Act of 1986.34 According to the Freedom of Communication Act of 1986, the CSA can renew a license without a tender, unless:
a) the state modifies the destination of the frequency or frequencies;
b) the license holder has been penalised for breaches to the Freedom of Communication Act or certain articles in the penal code;35
c) the renewal would infringe on media pluralism requirements on the national, local and regional levels;
d) if the license holder is unable to financially continue operations, and
e) if, for radio broadcasting, the license holder does not fulfil the specific requirements of the license for which it has been granted.
If none of these conditions apply, the CSA may renew a license without a tender up to two times for a maximum of five years each time.
The CSA handles tendering and licensing for all terrestrial private TV and radio channels in France.36 The license renewal procedure is as follows: one year prior to the expiration of a broadcasting license, the CSA publishes its decision of whether or not to implement the renewal procedure. In the event the CSA decides to renew an audiovisual communication service without a tender, it is required to cite the main clauses of the agreement in force that it wishes to see revised as well as those clauses of which the holder requests amendment. For the audiovisual communication services other than radio, the CSA holds a public hearing within one month following publication of its decision. It may also hold a public hearing for concerned third parties.
The CSA frequently renews licenses without a tender for both TV and radio broadcasters. In 2011, for instance, the CSA renewed the frequencies for many radio stations in the Ille de France region. The CSA did the same for a number of local TV stations in 2009.37 There have also been cases in which the CSA has refused to renew a license for exceeding maximum allotted advertising revenue (more than 20 percent) or for not broadcasting the required proportion of local programs.
The CSA’s decisions can be challenged in the French Conseil d’Etat (the Supreme Administrative Court). In general, the power to renew frequencies without tendering has not been criticised as a press-restrictive system in France, as in many cases it has worked to ensure media pluralism. It also helps to simplify the procedures of renewing the licenses, while excluding media that does not respect the law.
33 See “Criticism 4,” in “Criticisms and answers formulated on the subject of the proposed media act examined in a European context,” Ministry of Public Administration and Justice, December 20, 2010, at: http://www.kormany.hu/en/ministry-of-public-administration-and-justice/news/criticisms-and-answers-formulated-on-the-subject-of-the-proposed-media-act-examined-in-a-european-context 34 Article 28(1) in the Freedom of Communication Act (No. 86-1067 of 30 September 1986; hereafter: “Freedom of Communications Act 1986”), available at: http://www.csa.fr/upload/dossier/loi_86_english.pdf. 35 Freedom of Communication Act 1986, Articles 28(1)(2) at: http://www.csa.fr/upload/dossier/loi_86_english.pdf. 36 See the CSA’s website, available in English at: http://www.csa.fr/multi/index.php?l=uk 37 See 2009 CSA Annual Report, http://www.csa.fr/rapport2009/donnees/rapport/II_autoris_conv.htm#11.