Radio stations in France on Tuesday staged a boycott of Gallic songs after the government ordered them to play more native-language tunes to stem the invasion of English pop culture.
Since 1994, at least 40 percent of songs played on radio stations must be in French.
The government, led by Fleur Pellerin, the culture minister, has now beefed up the law after accusing radio stations of simply playing the same French songs to meet the quotas – such as those by revered French crooner Serge Gainsbourg.
The practice is stifling diversity on the airwaves and means “new talent no longer has a chance to be heard by the public”, French MPs warned earlier this month while debating an amendment designed to tackle the issue.
The new rule, which requires government approval, stipulates that the 10 most frequently aired French-language songs can only account for a maximum of half the stations’ francophone song quota – down from as much as 75 percent today.
Ms Pellerin also accused music radio stations of not having “respected (the quota laws) until now”.
Producers’ and artists’ unions welcomed the amendment, describing it as a “major step forward for musical creativity that in no way stifles radio stations’ editorial freedoms” and would simply require stations to add “two new songs per month” to their programme.
But the country’s main private stations, including Europe 1, RFM, Virgin Radio, NRJ and RTL, slammed the amendment as “killing freedom”. On Tuesday, they announced they were suspending their “participation in the French-language quota system for 24 hours”.
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