For example, in early October of this year Sarkozy was featured on front news pages as having suffered a migraine that prevented him from attending his weekly ministerial meeting with rival de Villepin. A story of such a personal nature would likely not have been run prior to 2002, when he was first appointed interior minister.
There are certain laws and restrictions that govern the French press and ensure protection of individuals. "The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the most precious human rights: hence every citizen may speak, write, print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be determined by Law." Freedom of speech, thus defined by Article 11 of the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen has achieved universal scope worldwide. The article inspired the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948 (Art. 19) and the European Convention on Human Rights adopted on 4 November 1950 (Art. 10).
In France, the State guarantees press freedom and safeguards media independence by ensuring the diversity of opinion and pluralism of news and information. The law prevents excessive media concentration by prohibiting any one media group from controlling more than 30% of the daily press. The Act of 29 July 1881 on freedom of the press provides a framework for press freedom by setting restrictions designed to strike a balance between freedom of expression, protection of citizens and maintaining law and order. In 1984, the Constitutional Council acknowledged the constitutional value of press freedom and its necessary role in a democracy.
Protection of individuals
The law protects minors from written material and illustrations in which they can be identified. It prohibits licentious and violent publications which target minors.
The law punishes slander and defamation: "Any offensive expression, contemptuous term or invective, not based on fact, constitutes slander. Any allegation or imputation of an act which dishonours or damages the reputation of the person or entity against whom it is made constitutes defamation". (Article 29, Act of 29 July 1881).
Article 1 of the Act of 30 September 1986 (amended) on Freedom of Communication states that "this freedom may be limited only, to the extent required, for the respect of human dignity, freedom and property of other people, the pluralistic nature of the expression of ideas and opinions and, for the protection of children and adolescents, safeguarding of law and order, for national defense, public service reasons ()."
REASONS FOR AND AGAINST IMPOSITION OF A NEW LAW
There are reasons why the Government should impose a new law that limits the intrusion of the press taking into consideration people's personal lives/ affairs and problems. First, the information intended to be published by the media should be subjected to scrutiny to ensure there is no contravention of the law leading to defamation or erosion of character of the party involved. Another reason is that as in the Sarkozy's case, the media have not been so sure