ABSTRACT

The European Convention on Transfrontier Television, amended in 1989, created a media regulatory and policy framework for the European Union (EU). In 1997, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe voted to support a directive that specifi ed this Convention and encouraged Member States of the EU to engage in national cultural protectionism by intervening in the broadcast market and guaranteeing free access to key television events, including popular sporting ones. As a member of the EU, France, a country whose media policy had been focused on market regulation and cultural diversity but not necessarily sport, amended a decree in 2004 that guaranteed free-to-air access to twenty-one major sporting events of importance to French society and French citizens. However, only two years after the adoption of this decree, one of the major events on the list, the 2006 European handball championship, was not aired on free-to-air television. This omission was all the more unfortunate because the French team won the championship! Thus, the French public was denied an opportunity to watch an event deemed to be of major importance and, predictably, the French Handball Federation, a large number of handball fans, and politicians made a series of complaints about this policy failure.