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French pols lobby for wine channel

Lawmakers work to change 1991 law to allow Edonys airtime

PARIS– Only in France could wine be the center of a hot political debate.

More than 20 French senators have joined forces to propose a law that would permit the launch of Edonys, a French wine-themed DTT channel.

The project was initially rejected by the Higher Council of the Audiovisual (CSA) in September 2009 because the channel would violate the 1991 Evin Law, which prohibits any direct or indirect promotion of alcohol and tobacco.

In fact, while naked people can be seen on commercials any time of the day on French TV, drinking wine and smoking cigarettes are forbidden in non-fiction programs.

It all seems a bit absurd, given the lofty reputation of French wine. Not to mention image of the stereotypical Frenchman or woman smoking Gauloises in a Parisian cafe while sipping a nice vin rouge.

The Evin Law has a bad rep, notably for prohibiting posters of “Coco Before Chanel” showing thesp Audrey Tautou lighting a cigarette, but in the case of Edonys, the French sentiment is more complex.

One comment on newspaper Le Figaro’s blog summed up the opposition: “Why don’t we also have a channel dedicated to smoking pot with drug dealers as TV hosts?”

But as Julien Dumont, Edonys’ project coordinator, explains, “The senators have realized that in France, talking about wine is culturally and economically important.” Indeed, it’s the country’s top export.

Senators from regions where wine plays a major role in the economy — like Bordeaux or Burgundy — have an obvious interest in lobbying for the launch of Edonys.

If the law is rejected in France, the channel will launch from Luxembourg in the fall, says Dumont.

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