Gallic ad ban law galls EC

Brussels has asked French gov't to justify legislation

BRUSSELS — The European Commission has moved to strike a French law, applied since 1996, that seeks to defend France’s cultural exception by banning retail chains from advertising on television.

The EC believes the law illegally stops foreign ad agencies from offering their services to the retail sector.

Brussels has asked the French government to justify the legislation, which is designed to protect the advertising revenue of France’s local press. The EC believes, however, that the law is in breach of EU rules preventing trade restrictions in the Union.

“This is a typical case of French cultural arrogance, and it’s about time Brussels took some serious action on this,” said one Brussels insider.

The French government has two months to defend its law. If France fails to respond or its defense is not deemed satisfactory, the EC can formally demand that the law be revoked and if necessary force France to do so by taking it to the European Court of Justice.