ARCEP says regulatory framework should depend on goals

French communications regulator the ARCEP has published its reflections on the reform of audiovisual sector regulation following a move by the French government to investigate whether telecom and TV regulation should be brought closer together.

The ARCEP said that whether a move to bring together the regulatory bodies responsible for telecom and TV regulation – meaning the ARCEP and the CSA respectively – would be justified would depend on the purpose of regulation of the audiovisual sector. If this were to be focused on “preserving strong content regulation” in the spirit of France’s ‘cultural exception’, while modifying rules to take account of new modes of distribution, then it would make sense to preserve two distinct regulatory regimes. This could be combined with a more informal committee including members of both to look at areas of common interest.

If the goal were to base a modernised regulatory regime more on economic principles, it would make sense to split responsibilities between the tow with ARCEP looking after technical and economic regulation of both sectors while the CSA looked after content. If on the other hand regulation were to be based principally on economic considerations, it would make sense to merger the pair into a single regulator on the model of the UK’s Ofcom, said the ARCEP.

The ARCEP said that the outcome would depend in large part of the enquiry currently being conducted by former Canal Plus chief Pierre Lescure and the conclusions drawn by the government and parliament.