On 20 July 2016, the Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA- French "Independant Authority to Protect Audiovisual Communications Freedom") issued a press release in which it directly addresses to its Turkish counterpart.
The press release is short. Here is what it says: "Le Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel exprime sa vive inquiétude à la suite de la décision du Conseil suprême de la radio et de la télévision (RTÜK), le
The press release is entitled "Le CSA s'inquiète du retrait par le
Isn't this surprising?
One would understand that the members of a Regulatory Authority, just as many people, would worry about what has been happening lately in Turkey. One can also share the view that these events might cause them to fear for the sake of public liberties and democracy in the country.
Should a Regulatory Authority express its "worry" though?
Shouldn't it be the Government's role instead, within the framework of its 'diplomatic relations' with the state and with the use of an appropriate vocabulary, to express any 'worry'?
First of all, this is a salient example of the ambiguity of the Audiovisual Regulator. Indeed, while it itself insists on the fact that it acts as an economic regulator of a sector whose development and
As such, people who still embrace the distinction that was previously assumed between public liberties regulation and economic regulation still consider the CSA - along with the CNIL - as the prototype of the former type of regulatory body.
Here the CSA expresses its "deep concern" and sends a request not to "jeopardize liberties", which is the polite version of an injunction, to a foreign regulatory authority upon which it has no authority whatsoever.
One can understand that the Regulator develops soft law about operators on which he has actual authority. But what about here? Shouldn't the adage Nemo plus juris apply?
How is the Regulator competent to issue 'releases' in which he formulates desiderata towards a foreign body whose behavior is unappealing to him? Shouldn't the Quai d'Orsay (French Ministry for Foreign Affairs) be in charge?
The Regulator took a political stance here, while it is known that a Regulatory Authority can only be legitimate when it stands as a technical authority; emphasizing on the political features of its job actually jeopardizes this legitimacy, all the more when international politics are involved (which is the case here).
However, the Regulator does preempt criticism in its press release:
It starts indeed by stating that it only expresses this sort of 'feeling' because of the old ties that exists between the French and the Turkish Regulators: it essentially considers that friends can be true to one another, express a few criticism and expect changes. Friendship in the digital media and in politics would allow for many things.
Besides, the CSA recalls the solidarity that prevails between the two regulators. Because they are "long-time partner within the European Platform of Regulatory Authorities (EPRA) and the Mediterranean Regulation Authorities Network (RIRM)", the French Regulator is enabled to express the Turkish Regulators its view on how it is jeopardizing democracy and how it should consequently stop.
Maybe the many ties that exists between