Ladies and gentlemen, “And here is the colour, on the appointed day and at the appointed time”… Many of you did not know, or may have forgotten, the phrase of the then Minister of Information (Georges Gorse) more than forty years ago, on October 1, 1967. All of a sudden, the black and white image had taken on colors. Other times! Today, what seemed like magic is part of our daily lives.

Address by Mr. Frédéric Mitterrand, Minister of Culture and Communication

It was, the minister said, a “small revolution”, but we know well, behind the modesty of understatement, that the “small screen” is often the witness and even the vector of “big revolutions”.

These great revolutions are both collective and intimate. Television is both in our internality, and it brings us together: we are together not only by everything we do, but by everything we watch together, which sets our attention at the same time.

Today, we are launching a new revolution, a technological revolution. And it’s “not small”, as they say in Molière: it’s, as you know, the transition to digital television, what’s called DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television).

Digitization is a technology that brings about exceptional progress in all areas of Culture and Communication, be it access to our heritage (audiovisual, books, etc.) or in television and radio. That is why I have made the acceleration and coherence of our digitization policies one of the main priorities of my action in the Ministry of Culture and Communication.

For television too, the advantages of digital are obvious and recognized:

– in terms of image quality and sound;
– in terms of the choice of channels multiplied: 18 free national channels; that is three times more than the current offer.

All this has already been said to you and I will not go back to these technical aspects. On the other hand, I want to stress the exceptional chance that this technological revolution will give everyone access to culture.

As I said, culture is the domain of intimacy: it must not be the place of intimidation. It is still too often seen as a form of “distinction”, or discrimination. However, I am convinced that this digital revolution, these 18 free channels, will go a long way towards improving everyone’s access to masterpieces of heritage and creation.

From now on, for example, exceptional cultural events can finally be followed in the best conditions, with a sound and an image equal to the artistic performance. And it will be possible for everyone.
=> Proof of this is the screening last Monday, September 14, of the opening show of the Paris opera: Mireille de Gounod. This opera, broadcast on France 3, obtained 5.2% of audience share, that is to say that the young Provençal girl whose great poet Frédéric Mistral had sung the adventures, just 150 years ago, gathered more than 1.1 million viewers…

The quality of the sound, it is not necessary to insist for an opera... But film lovers know the importance of image quality, not only for the comfort, but for the aesthetic quality of the works. They know the central role of the director of photography in art-house cinema; they know that Godard, without Raoul Coutard, would not have been Godard – and this is true for all New Wave filmmakers. From now on, these marvels, these finesses of the image will be accessible to all.

Technical quality of sound and image at the service of art: but the challenge is also that of the quality of programs.
=> Some, which already exist, will finally be made accessible to everyone. For example, «La grande librairie» by François BUSNEL, at 20:35, on France 5.
Others have been around even longer and benefit from expected rebroadcasts on new free channels. I think of Direct 8, which this week, for example, broadcasts The Count of Monte Cristo with Gérard Depardieu and a cycle devoted to Lino Ventura...
This quality is based on a well-understood diversity. I’m thinking of the philosopher Alain who said “I hate the man in one book”; you could say “I hate the man in one chain”. Alain also said that culture is a cure for authoritarian, tyrannical tendencies because it “makes diversity adorable.”
=> with the new news channels, pluralism is increased and enlivened;
=> To stay in the cultural field, the offer is diverse enough to bring, to those who wish, a kind of permanent cinema.
These channels are not only there to rebroadcast classics: they are often real hotbeds of audiovisual innovation and creativity. These are new talents, new faces that will be visible to everyone.
They are also destined to become the showcase of our audiovisual creation, in all fields: I think of fiction, but also of the documentary that wins the support of the French as demonstrated by the recent success of Apocalypse with 6.5 million viewers.
So it is the chance of a meeting of our creation and the public that is at stake here.
A public finally found, wherever it is in our territory. This is important when we keep in mind that television is the only cultural leisure of a large number of French people and when we know the role it plays as an initiation and cultural incentive for many of our compatriots.
I know the effort that is being made, notably by the GIP France Télé numérique and its director, Mr. Lévrier, to help isolated people, the rural world, the suburbs, the people least aware of technological developments and cultural offerings, and I want to pay tribute to him.
I also offer my full support to elected officials, social actors, associations and the media in the implementation of this transition to quality and diversity, as important, and perhaps even more important, as the transition to colour was once.