Zoom. FR.aHcO. Music Quotas on French Radio.

Music Quotas on French Radio.

1994. February 1. A law fixed the French language quota basis on-air.

Radio stations now had to air a minimum of 40% of the music …created or sung by French or Francophone artists or authors (with lyrics written in any regional dialect used in France) during their music program. From this quota 20 % has to be from new talents or new productions. All these quotas have to be strictly respected during prime time.

2000. August 1. The law has been modified because of some radio stations who asked for a change. So now they have three choices which are:

  • Keeping the same quotas (the solution chosen by general format radio stations)
  • For radio stations playing “old school music”, the quota now is 60 % French music with at least 10 % airtime for new productions.

  • For “youth radio”, the minimum is 35% French music with a minimum of 25 % for new productions

Some people criticize this system; they say it is mostly useful for the major record companies. Well I think even if there would be no quota, the situation would be the same. Radios, TV, cinema screens, concert stages are like a jungle. If some firms have more money to promote their productions then the probability is higher that they get to have more airspace.

Some people say that unfortunately this law doesn’t help the small independent bands.

The other problem is about how to definite a song that can enter in the quotas. This rule had been passed also to promote French / Francophone artists and therefore the French language. For electro music for example, it is complicated for this kind of music to take a place in the song quotas because the lyrics are most of the time in English. Indeed, some artists will prefer to write in English in order to express their creativity, and it is their right to do so. So in a way, this law can also be seen as a restriction for artistic creativity. Two weeks ago I saw a documentary about a French rock band singing in English who gained a lot of success in USA. To promote their second album in France, their production staff had translated one of their songs in French. The singers wanted to keep their chorus in Shakespeare’s language, but the staff refused because that represented more than 50 % of the song and the radio would refuse to enter it in their quotas. So it would be more difficult to air this song!

Quotas are shapeless and can be improved for the better of everyone, but at the end, people need it as a necessity to pep up our local creations and talent. This law had revamped French lyric writing, contributing to the further development of “chanson française” or French language “Hip hop“ blossoming.

Information sources.



The situation about English language bands from France depends, there are no regular rules. For exemple last year in Iasi a band call Papier Tigre (www.myspace.com/papiertigre) was invited by the French Cultural Center in Iasi, and they sang in English. It was the same for Gomm. French language bands from France can receive financial support from Le Ministere des Affaire Etrangere if they have a European Tour.

To explain all the special links that we have in France with Culture, it is a hard exercise, because that needs some background study in history and sociology.

Author: AhCo

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