President Nicolas Sakozy has pushed through parliament a bill that requires television stations funded by the French government to cease taking advertisements in order to be funded. The president argues removing ads represents a “veritable cultural revolution” that will restore quality to public television which increasingly has to compete with commercial television. The bill also allows the president of France–currently Nicolas Sarkozy– to select the chief of the public broadcasting company. In theory, a public broadcasting company should be independent from political control. Didier Mathus, of the Socialist Party, believes the change is really an attempt by Sarkozy to place public television on a leash during the upcoming 2012 presidential election.
Many years ago when television first appeared there was extensive discussion in American about the importance of having a non-commercial public television station that maintained “quality broadcasting.” Unfortunately, with the emergence of hundreds of television stations the issue of quality gets lost because people do have choices. Unfortunately, those choices often result in American Idol programs over serious discussions on public television.
The issue is not ads or no ads. The issue is offering programs that are seen by people. We humans tend all too often to seek the lowest common denominator in television. Such is the human condition.