FM radio is up for grabs, and TV access looms ahead.
The broadcast media in France have done a gigantic flip-flop over the last year and a half. Evangelistic broadcasting, until then all but impossible because of strict government control, is now a distinct possibility. Evangelicals are scrambling to realize the new potential. But they are finding out that communicating to the typical Monsieur and Madame Français will remain a formidable challenge.
In May 1981, François Mitterand was installed as president of a socialist government. With this change of administrations came major social and economic upheavals, including changes in access to the airwaves.
The Socialist party had advocated relative freedom for France’s broadcast industry. In fulfillment of a campaign pledge, President Mitterand, in a law enacted last November and effective last February, released the government’s monopoly on radio. Any nonprofit and nonpolitical group may now apply for low-power (500-watt maximum) FM radio stations, covering listening areas with a radius of from 3 to 18 miles.
Now for the catches:
• Commercial advertising is not permitted, and not more than 25 percent of the total budget may come from a single source.
• Networking is not allowed. No organization may own or finance more than one radio station.
• A frequency must be on the air for a minimum of 84 hours a week (although two or more stations may share the frequency). Programming must be 80 percent produced by station personnel. No succession of pretaped programs is permitted.
• Competition will be keen for the restricted number of frequencies to be allocated. In the Paris area alone, more than 600 applications have been filed for the alloted frequencies: 48 for a 3-mile radius, and 16 ...1
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