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7 - French Freedom of Communication and Pluralism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 May 2021

Andrew T. Kenyon
Affiliation:
University of Melbourne School of Law
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Summary

French law counters the idea that positive dimensions of free speech are not part of the freedom, or that media pluralism is distinct from free communication. Instead, protecting pluralism is central to French constitutional law. The approach echoes ideas of sustained plural public speech raised in earlier chapters. French law aims for an effective freedom for recipients. For people to express opinions that have political effect, as is said to occur in a democracy, people must be able to form opinions first. Democracy depends on plural public speech, involving multiple diverse outlets and transparency over information sources and financing. The French example is interesting for what it says about free speech and democracy, but what the requirements actually amount to is less than expected. A great deal of detail is left to actors beyond courts. In part, this reflects French traditions of protecting rights, although they are changing. Overall, strong statements about pluralism do not translate into as precise or demanding constitutional requirements as they might, but trends to date suggest more could eventuate.

Type
Chapter
Information
Democracy of Expression
Positive Free Speech and Law
, pp. 170 - 208
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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