Secret advertising: Do you Follow or Like?

It’s become almost default for broadcasters on TV and radio to say “Follow us on Twitter @****” or “find on our Facebook page…”.

Even David Dimbleby opens up every week’s BBC Question Time with a mention of the #bbcqt whether he understands what that is or not. Another BBC stalwart programme Have I Got News For You even promotes its #hignfy in text format in the opening credits. Radio phone-in shows it seems couldn’t live without promoting Facebook or Twitter debates nowadays. That’s here in Britain. In France, that sort of promotion has just been banned.

French regulator, The Superior Audiovisual Council (CSA) have ruled that roadcasters in France cannot refer to social networking sites by name unless a story justifies it. So if Twitter hits the news, using the name of the now superbrand is justified but to drive traffic to a show’s or personality’s own social offering would be breaking the rules.

The ruling from the CSA comes as a clarification of French law that forbids secret advertising in broadcasts. Getting in touch via Twitter – or the French equivalent – will never again be heard on French Airwaves. THe CSA statement said:

“The return of viewers and listeners to the show page on social networking without mentioning this is informative, while the reference to these pages by naming the relevant social networks is an advertising character who contravenes the provisions of Article 9 of Decree of 27 March 1992 prohibiting surreptitious advertising,”

Yet, the promotion of the services are not banned completely. It is only the use of the brand names. So it is expected broadcasters will soon find a way around the law, perhaps asking their audience to get in touch via social networks, which if not mentioning brands direct would stay on the right side of the law.

Do you think the UK should follow suit?

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Tim Fuell only joined the Webfusion team last year but having been a customer of the group for more than 10 years, he knew all about their success in the Web hosting field. After writing his Masters thesis on the threat of cybersquatting way back in 1998, he has seen the Internet grow beyond even his wildest dreams. A journalist for over 16 years and a qualified Solicitor, Tim is one of a team of bloggers in the Webfusion stable aiming to educate, inform and assist their online readership.