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Association "Ici et Maintenant" v. Conseil Supérieur de l'audiovisuel , n° 173073, Conseil d'Etat, 9 octobre 1996, AJDA 1996 Jurisprudence p. 000

Facts: the listeners of a radio who participated to a talk-show broadcasted by a radio channel once made racists and anti-Semitic remarks on the radio. The remarks were broadcasted by the association "Ici et Maintenant" despite an order not to broadcast similar remarks issued by the Superior Council of Radios and Televisions to another talk-show association. The Council thereafter issued a sanction against the association, namely a reduction of one year of their authorization to broadcast on the radio channel. The association responsible for the talk-show claimed that the sanction was illegal and violated the principle of liberty of expression. The Council argued that the remarks violated the principle of human dignity and that therefore the sanction it issued was justified.

Holding: the Conseil d'Etat held that the sanction imposed by the Superior Council of Radios and Televisions to the association responsible for the racists and anti-Semitic remarks was valid. It found that the remarks violated the principle of human dignity that overweighed the principle of freedom of expression in that case.

Reasoning: the remarks did infringe the right to human dignity of the listeners and the public. Under article 1 of the Law of September 30, 1986, the holders of the radio channel had to assure the conformity of the remarks of the listeners with the principle of respect for human dignity. The channel failed to comply with this duty. This failure justified the sanctions taken against the channel pursuant to article 42-1 of the Law. Given the seriousness and repetition of the alleged charges, the Council did not exceed its power by only reducing the authorization of the association to broadcast by one year.

 

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