The National Assembly adopted on Monday, July 18, 2016, in new reading, the bill on freedom, independence and pluralism of the media, carried by Patrick Bloche and the members of the Committee on Cultural Affairs. This text confirms major advances in the independence of information, notably with the strengthening of the protection of the confidentiality of journalists' sources, supported by the Minister of Culture and Communication, Audrey Azoulay.
« This is a major democratic issue» recalled Audrey Azoulay in her speech to parliamentarians at first reading, “ You know my determination to ensure that this reform called for by the profession be adopted, as the President has undertaken ».
In a work of co-construction with the deputies, the text brings four major developments to the inadequacies of the law of 4 July 2010 on the protection of the confidentiality of sources.
- Removal of the vague notion of “overriding public interest imperative” from the 2010 Act on whose behalf it may be justified to breach source confidentiality by replacing it with a specific and limited list of grounds defined by the seriousness of the offences in question.
- Extension of the protection of the confidentiality of sources to all editorial staff and the publication director, where the 2010 law only protected journalists.
- Ban on convicting a journalist of the crime of concealment of a breach of the secrecy of the investigation or investigation, of a breach of professional secrecy or of a breach of privacy.
- To be able to prejudice the confidentiality of sources, when the law allows it, only under the authority of the judge of freedoms and detention, independent magistrate of the investigative procedure.
These guarantees are essential for the vitality of our democracies, they allow citizens to access pluralistic and independent information, a guarantee of real democracy» recalled the minister.
The examination of the text in the Senate last May resulted in a real setback, consisting in returning to the law of 4 January 2010 (Dati Law) currently in force. This law is considered too little protective of the confidentiality of sources by many organizations of journalists but also press publishers who asked that it be clarified, in particular by clarifying the cases in which the confidentiality of sources can be lifted.
By taking up the obvious advances of the text adopted at first reading in the National Assembly, the Government presented in public session a coherence amendment on the cases justifying the lifting of the confidentiality of sources, which was adopted.
Under this amendment, the judge is entitled to investigate the sources of journalists for offences punishable by a minimum of 7 years in prison, compared to 10 years at first reading.