On July 14, Emmanuel Macron announced the implementation of a “Sobriety Plan” to reduce French energy consumption by 10% by 2024. As part of this plan, a draft decree on the luminous advertising was announced on July 24, 2022 by the Minister for Energy Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher in an interview at JDD. After validation by the Council of State, it should come into force on September 21.
“Harmonize the rules of extinction”
What will this change? Currently, urban units with less than 800,000 inhabitants are required to turn off illuminated advertisements between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. (Environment Code, article R581-35, latest version in force dated January 30, 2012). Urban units with more than 800,000 inhabitants can be authorized to leave their illuminated advertisements on if the local authorities so wish, via the local advertising regulations (RLP, still according to article R581-35 of the environment code).
Contacted by CheckNewsthe Ministry of Energy Transition explains that the decree scheduled for September 21 aims to “harmonize the rules for extinguishing illuminated advertisements throughout the territory”. Illuminated advertisements must in fact be switched off between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., regardless of the size of the urban unit, and whether it is covered by an RLP or not. Failure to comply with the rules of extinction will be punished with a fine of 1,500 euros per advertisement (compared to 750 euros currently).
Another modification made by the decree: until now, all illuminated advertisements are not affected by the rule of extinction. Those installed on street furniture (bus stops, sealed signs) can thus remain lit at night (under the Environment Code, article R581-35). The decree of September 21 aims to extend the ban on illuminated ads to these panels present on street furniture at night. Exception: public transport furniture (such as signs at bus stops) may leave advertisements on, during the opening hours of said transport only.
Many other advertisements will not be affected by the prohibitions of the future decree. Currently, illuminated advertisements located in private premises such as stores or shopping centers, installed indoors and visible from the public highway, are authorized to be lit at night (unless otherwise decided by the community). And the decree of September 21 will not change anything.
Let us add the special case of stations and airports. The interior of these transit areas is not subject to the previous prohibitions. However, only illuminated advertisements located on certain outdoor station platforms are subject to nocturnal bans. Here again, the decree of September 21 will not make any changes.
Thomas Bourgenot, advocacy officer for the association Resistance to advertising aggression, at war against the direct and indirect negative effects caused by advertising, believes on Twitter that “the “rare exceptions” in question are in fact the majority of screens…”. Contacted by CheckNewsthe same explains: “Even after September 21, airports, train stations, but also shopping malls and indoor shop windows, will be able to continue displaying illuminated billboards.” He pursues : “As the screens are mostly inside the premises, turning them off is up to the goodwill of companies and municipalities. So the law should be changed.”
How many ads are affected?
Will the majority of screens really be exempt? The Ministry of Energy Transition simply indicates that the “exact costing” illuminated advertisements concerned by the decree of September 21 “is difficult to obtain”. He adds that “estimates are in progress”. Despite this (big) unknown, the ministry nevertheless advances energy saving estimates: “Switching off signs at night would save the equivalent of the average annual electricity consumption of 110,000 homes.”
It should be noted that between the end of 2019 and June 2020, the Citizen’s Climate Convention had proposed a more ambitious objective to the government: “The banning of advertising video screens in public spaces, public transport and in points of sale.” This proposal was not accepted.
The application of the decree of September should face an additional difficulty. Solicited by CheckNewsStéphane Dottelonde, President of the Union for Outdoor Advertising (UPE), emphasizes a difficulty not mentioned by the Ministry: on October 1, he estimates that only 9% of illuminated advertisements located on street furniture can be turned off at night. “Not all street furniture is fitted with remote-operated switches, explains the president of the UPE. A large majority is connected to public lighting, so we cannot remotely turn off a sign at a bus stop for a few hours at night. We will have to equip them, but it will take time. For the organization, “the objective is to achieve 100% of street furniture equipped with remotely operated switches by June 1, 2023”.
Laura Huynh Quang and Elie Saikali
This article was produced as part of a partnership with the CFPJ for the promotion 61 application journal.