Freedom of the [wine] Press?…Mais, Non!

Does this bother you?

A French court has now determined that articles about wine must be considered "advertising" even if the article is not paid for in anyway.

You’ve not read that incorrectly.

Decanter is reporting that a French court has determined that a magazine article recommending four bottles of inexpensive Champagne was, according to the court, "intended to promote sales of alcoholic beverages in excersising a
psychological effect on the reader that incited him or her to buy

As a result, the court says, such articles must carry health warnings. WOW!!

Decanter reports the reaction of Dominic Ponsford, editor of
UK-based industry journal, the Press Gazette:

"It’s absolutely extraordinary. (YA THINK!!!) The central tenet of
journalism in a western democracy is that journalists can publish the
truth as they see it without the interference of the government or an
outside body, within the boundaries of libel and copyright."

Ponsford is correct in every way…and yet, apparently wrong.

When the government gets in the business of proclaiming the right to add its own editorializing to media reports you know you’ve come a long way from the simple notion of "freedom of the press". The ugly thing is I can imagine the Marin Institute and the Center for Science in the Public Interest reading about this and attempting to make the same case here in America. That might be more of a comment on the radical nature and busibodiness of those organizations than it is about the state of American Journalism. But you can almost see those folks salivating right now.

That said, I’m a huge fan of France. Been there at least a dozen or more times. Married a French woman once. Will be taking my kids to France for the first time next year. But just how crazy have the French become? Such a ruling is so entirely subversive to the notion of press freedoms it’s hard to fathom just exactly what was on the minds of the court. I’ve known for some time that serious anti-alcohol sentiments have been moving through that country, but are they so strong that the French are willing to so thoroughly discard their freedoms?

Posted In: Wine Media


15 Responses

  1. Thomas Pellechia - January 10, 2008

    For a primer on how this stuff takes place, you need to read up on the Prohibition movement of the nineteenth century. It’s happening all over again, internationally.
    The marvel of humanity is that
    1. it is a repetitive organism
    2. it is a repetitive organism.

  2. Tom Wark - January 10, 2008

    Am I wrong or is this absolutely crazy, Thomas? This seems like an awfully long reach.

  3. Thomas Pellechia - January 10, 2008

    What seems like an awfully long reach, Tom? Have you ever heard of Gene Ford?

  4. Tom Wark - January 10, 2008

    See if you start dropping references to Gene Ford next thing you know you’ll bring us into a discussion of Jerry Mead. All bets are off when Jerry is in the mix.
    You date yourself, my friend.So do I by getting the reference.

  5. Thomas Pellechia - January 11, 2008

    Oh no, I only heard of Ford and Reed, from reading ancient history books.
    In any event, have you heard that the French society for journalists is petitioning the court? It is a serious matter when courts select what is journalism and what is advertising, especially when they clearly do it our of an agenda and that agenda has them referring to clear journalism as advertising.
    Liberte, Equalite, Fraternite, for everyone and everything but alcohol and tobacco…firearms may be ok in France, too, I don’t know about that… 😉

  6. Thomas Pellechia - January 11, 2008

    Oops, I meant Mead, not Reed. Need some coffee…

  7. Fredric Koeppel - January 11, 2008

    Let’s see, after this wine lists in restaurants will have to have health warnings, and waiters, when they pour your wine, will be required to whisper, “Excusez-moi, Monsieur, but after drinking wine please don’t attempt to operate heavy machinery.”

  8. Thomas Pellechia - January 11, 2008

    They are crazed in France. The BAC is soon to be 0.0. In others words, one glass of wine and you are in trouble if you get caught driving.
    The BAC laws have already hurt restaurants in rural regions.
    The interesting thing about this case is that the watchdog group that filed suit against the newspaper was awarded $7,500. For what?
    Maybe Tom doesn’t agree, but it can happen here and elsewhere…it did happen here once before.

  9. swirlingnotions - January 11, 2008

    This just sounds so very American, doesn’t it? What’s happening over there?!

  10. Thomas Pellechia - January 12, 2008

    “Very American?” I don’t know about that.
    Seems to me that European Facsism succeeded for a time in the past; in America it’s always been on the incursion level.

  11. Nancy - January 12, 2008

    So, I guess restaurant reviews are advertising, too. Are they going to start having ingredient lists, caloric content, etc. required for restaurant reviews? What about movie reviews and the number of brain cells that are wasted by watching the movie? And a warning about the dangers of driving with a car review? I agree with swirlingnotions, it sounds frighteningly American to me…

  12. Thomas Pellechia - January 12, 2008

    You are missing my point, Nancy.
    The way I see it, the problem is with moralism in general, not with nationalities.
    The Europeans are borrowing our methods, not our thinking. When you dig deeply into these issues of Prohibition and other moralisms you find that the organizations behind these moves either have international tentacles or failing that, good Internet connections.

  13. Marco - January 13, 2008

    “The French are Germans who ran out of land.” I can’t recall who said that. And Thomas, they are crazed.

  14. Thomas Pellechia - January 14, 2008

    I am probably mellowing out in my dotage, but I think it’s safe to say that “crazed” is not under the sole domain of the French. Just wait until you see the additional American wine label warnings over the next few years.
    Plus, I find it incredible that American TV is allowed to run ads for prescription drugs–prescription, not over the counter–but is not allowed to show someone sip a glass of over the counter wine. Talk about crazed…
    And yes, historically, the French are descendants of the Franks that gave Rome a lot of its later troubles.

  15. Taster B - January 14, 2008

    Why am I not surprised…The French people need to take their government in hand: It is out of control…

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