The ‘Toubon law’ passed in 1994, updated in 2016

What is the ‘Toulon Law’?

The law takes its common name from Jacques Toubon, who was Ministre de la Culture when it was passed, and who proposed the law to the Assemblée Nationale. It was imposed in 1994 to protect France from what the government saw as the “Anglo-Saxon cultural invasion”.

A nickname is Loi Allgood – “Allgood” is a word for word translation of “Toubon” into English (“All Good” being a translation of “Tout bon”) – as the law can largely be considered to have been enacted in reaction to the increasing usage of English in advertisements and other areas in France. As the law sought to strengthen French as the dominant language within the countries and her territories, the law also came under considerable attack from the European Commission which regarded its provisions as particularly offensive to the concept of free competition across national borders.

Daft Punk famously wearing helmets
Daft Punk famously wearing helmets

Why an update in March 2016?

Responding to increasing pressure from stations opposed to the quota, MPs voted in March 2016 to reduce quota from 40 to 35 per cent, thus reducing the country’s legal quota of French songs played on the radio amid complaints the rule forces radio DJs to repeatedly play ‘boring’ old French ballads.

The 40 per cent quota was increasingly making life difficult for programmers because a high proportion of young French artists such as Daft Punk are now singing in English to attract a more international audience. The quota was then lowered to 35 per cent.

Many stations have resorted to repeating the same songs ad nauseam, with the culture ministry saying in September 2016 that only 10 songs accounted for 74 per cent of the French titles aired on NRJ radio, and 67 per cent of those broadcast on another station, which has the English-sounding name Skyrock.

But the concession comes with a condition: stations will have to air more new French songs as the country’s culture minister, Audrey Azoulay, said: “This is a balanced solution.”

For more information, read this article from the Telegraph newspaper:

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