Convinced that television commercials for films in France would create a schism in the local marketplace, France's culture minister Jean-Jacques Aillagon met with EU commissioner Frits Bolkestein last week to make his case.

Based on rules laid out in 1992, France retains an exception regarding television advertising for films, publishing, the press and large retail outlets.

In May 2002, the European Commission asked that France modify its position on the issue. Aillagon travelled to Brussels to put forth his proposals.

Although the culture minister made some concessions, with regard to film he maintained that a restriction on film advertising should continue. However, he did propose that thematic movie channels could open their airtime to ads. Thematic channels already have the right to air trailers.

Aillagon's position is in line with the general attitude of the film industry which argues that opening ad time to cinema could spell disaster for the local industry which would find it difficult to compete with US studios in terms of buying power.

Reportedly, however, Bolkestein was unconvinced by Aillagon's argument and has asked that France make new proposals.

Local film organisations, the BLOC and ARP - the former a distributors' representative and the latter the association of authors, directors and producers - both re-stated their resistance to changing the laws following the news coming out of Brussels.

BLOC said that it reaffirms "its strongest opposition to the opening of television advertising to the film sector," which would have a "devastating effect on the distribution and production of French and European works."

ARP said the potential opening of advertising "does not take into consideration the specificity of a cultural sector nor the interests of European creation and would favour a rise in concentration detrimental to independent production and distribution companies." ARP also noted that the American dominance of the video and DVD markets can be traced to the fact that there are no restrictions on advertising in that sector.